Dr Annika Winbo awarded prestigious international prize

25/02/2021

Dr Annika Winbo awarded prestigious international prize for her cardiac disease research

We are extremely pleased to announce that one of our researchers from The University of Auckland, Dr Annika Winbo, has recently received a prestigious, international award named the ‘Heart Rhythm Society Young Investigator Award’ (YIA).

Hundreds of researchers from around the world submitted an abstract during the submission process. 60 applicants were considered in full and six chosen to be finalists.

Dr Winbo is the first New-Zealand based researcher to win the award since it began in 1990.

A key aspect of winning was that she and her team were also the first to successfully grow what is called human iPS-derived sympathetic neurons and heart cells together in a functional coculture.

“My team and I have been working on this research for some years now so to have our work recognised by the Heart Rhythm Society is extremely encouraging. Through a great deal of time and investment we have been able to increase our understanding of the complexities of this aspect of cardiac disease, some of which are unique to families in New Zealand,” she says.

“The life-threatening arrhythmias in Long QT Syndrome typically are triggered by the sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ response. That means sudden death can be triggered by fear, excitement, or a simple jump into the water. Our research enables us to study human heart cells and sympathetic neurons interacting (in a dish/in vitro), so that we can learn more about what triggers sudden death in families with Long QT Syndrome.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Society for recognising the significance of our work in this area which is now starting to help reduce life-threatening events across generations of Long QT Syndrome families.

“Funding from the Hugh Green Foundation laid the all-important foundation work to enable this novel research to take place so I would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Foundation,” Dr Winbo says.

Dr Winbo’s latest award fast followed a second prize she received in 2020; the ‘New and Emerging Researcher’ Prize awarded by the Physiological Society of New Zealand.