Australian Consulate-General
Chennai, India

Media release

23 March 2015                                                                                                                                                                               PA-CN/03/01

Australia and India collaborate on future cardiovascular surgical technologies for poor and marginalised communities.

A team of scientists from Australia and India led by Professor Craig McLachlan of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) are exploring the potential to develop a new low cost cardiac device. This project is part of a larger effort by the team to explore new medical technology opportunities that can improve the lives of India’s poor and marginalised communities.

The project has been supported by a grant from the Australian Government through the Australia India Council (AIC). Dr K M Cherian, CEO of the Frontier Lifeline Hospital and his team have performed surgeries for existing heart conditions for two patients sponsored by the grant who would otherwise not have been able to afford the surgery.

“This opportunity is very exciting on many levels” said Mr Sean Kelly, the Australian Consul-General to South India; “The project explores a unique collaborative model for future scientific studies between India and Australia – two nations that often lead the way in research and innovation."

“Gaining support to test cardiac devices at a feasibility stage of development is important," said Dr Craig McLachlan, research director of the Rural Clinical School (RCS) at UNSW. "More often than not translational development pathways stall at the human feasibility stage. So this Indian collaboration is key to progressing the development of UNSW cardiac devices either from an academic research or commercial partner perspective,” he said.

Dr McLachlan explained that UNSW is exploring long term collaborations with Frontier Lifeline Hospital for the future.

"UNSW is keen to work with our Indian colleagues on socially-conscious projects that use sustainable technology that lessen the financial burden on patients from lower socioeconomic backgrounds," Dr McLachlan said.

"It\'s also great news that with the support of UNSW, the Australian Government and Frontier Hospital, this Indian-Australian collaboration is helping provide sponsored access to surgery and the latest in technology to poor and mar ginalised communities that otherwise would not have access to this type of healthcare."
The Rural Clinical School brings world-class medical education to the rural Australia, training the next generation of rural and Indigenous doctors, and does extensive work in rural healthcare and medical research.

One of India’s top heart surgeons, Dr Cherian performed the first cardiac bypass surgery in India in 1975 and was one of the first surgeons to carry out a cardiac transplant in India for both adults and children.

"Not only are our team at Frontier Lifeline Hospital thrilled to be taking part on this important study," said Dr Cherian. "But we are also keen to work together with UNSW and the Australian Government on future research on cardiac and related medical research.

"Ultimately we share the same goals as our Australian counterparts - to strengthen healthcare systems in both countries, and to improve the health and well-being of everyone from poor rural communities to urban populations, using state-of-the art medical technology."