My Story and My Vision of China: Interview with cardiologist, Professor Anushka Patel
 (People's Daily Online)

Professor Anushka Patel taking interview from People's Daily Online.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the "number one killer" according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Statistics show that China has one of the world's highest mortality rates linked to cardiovascular disease. In Australia, on average, one person dies every 12 minutes due to cardiovascular disease. Therefore, such diseases are a global health issue, and one that should be tackled by all countries.

Since the 1990s, Professor Anushka Patel, now a professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales and a cardiologist at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, has been researching cardiovascular diseases and other heart-related health problems. She has many partners in China who work with her to improve public health around the world.

At the age of 16, Professor Patel went to medical school, going on to get her Master's degree at Harvard University. In 2005, she enrolled at the University of Sydney to study for her Ph.D., focusing on cardiovascular risk factors in the Asia-Pacific region, and also led the world's largest Type 2 diabetes research. "I became very interested in learning about how to do the right research to generate evidence that could make the treatment situation better."

Professor Patel's research stood out from the crowd, leading to her receive the Peter Bancroft Prize from the University of Sydney in 2006. In 2018, she was also awarded the Australian Academy of Science Gustav Nossal Medal for Global Health.

According to Professor Patel, the George Institute for Global Health is one of the world's top ten most influential scientific institutions and has been committed to improving the health of millions of people around the world. "As the chief scientist of the institute, my responsibility is around developing our research strategy across our regions but also making sure that it is implemented," she said

Professor Anushka Patel at the George Institute of Health of Peking University

"Global health has always been our focus and will continue to be our focus. I first went to China in 2001. I was, at that time, leading a big international trial of twenty countries. There were many research hospitals in China."

In 2004, the George Institute of Health under Peking University was established by the George Institute of Global Health and Peking University Health Science Centre, covering research related to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, kidney diseases, community health, school hygiene, and policy research. This institute became a leading health research institute in China, and over the years, nearly 40 projects have been carried out to help improve the health of people all over the world.

"Initially I was interested in how we could improve the treatment for people who are very sick with heart disease, such as those who have suffered a heart attack. However, as time went by, I became more interested in how you actually prevent this heart attack in the first place, because it is probably a lot more beneficial to the population if you can prevent it."

With the development of modern technology, the institute and Qualcomm Wireless Reach jointly founded a world-class mobile health innovation center in China, the China Center for mHealth Innovation, to focus on developing innervated digital health enabled solutions to improve the care of cardiovascular diseases but also other common non-chronic diseases.

As introduced by Professor Patel, researchers are looking at new ways of delivering care at home using digital technology to assist with the prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions.

With the help of mobile apps designed by the institute, community healthcare workers can conveniently and quickly obtain targeted and evidence-based guidance when nursing patients. Consumers are able to quickly scan the barcode on food packaging to make healthier diet choices.

"I think digital health has huge potential to revolutionize and transform the way we deliver house care. We don't only focus on the technology. We have to really understand how the technology is going to help. Ultimately, the outcome is to impact and improve lives."

Professor Patel has been to China many times thanks to her research and cooperation with China on heart disease. "I have probably been to 30 or 40 cities in China for work. We have friends now in China who have worked with us for 20 years; very strong relationships."

With so many visits to China over past years, Professor Patel told us she has seen tremendous changes in China. "There was real eagerness, willingness and desire to collaborate internationally including with researchers like us from Australia."

Professor Patel believes China-Australia collaboration spans many areas and the two countries will always have close ties. "China has the potential to become a real global powerhouse in the area of clinical trials for new drugs and devices for the prevention and management of heart diseases. There is a huge amount of expertise in Australia around how to develop and conduct large clinical trials. I think Australian expertise can contribute to this development in China. Big trials can lead to benefits not only for the Chinese population but of course for the Australian population and even globally."