Prof Karlheinz Peter, Deputy Director, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute

Kempson Maddox Lecture : Prevention and treatment of myocardial infarction – pitfalls of the past, present challenges and future opportunities
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Prof Karlheinz Peter is an interventional cardiologist at the Alfred Hospital and a basic scientist and Deputy Director at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. He is Professor of Medicine and Immunology at Monash University, honorary Professor at La Trobe University, and he holds an NHMRC principal research fellowship. Prof Peter has been working for many years and continues to work as an interventional cardiologist, including previously as the head of the cardiac catheter laboratory at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He did his postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore and at Scripps Research Foundation, La Jolla, USA. He did most of his clinical training at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

His research is focused on the cellular mechanisms of coronary artery disease and its consequences, myocardial infarction (MI), encompassing the role of platelets, coagulation and inflammation in atherosclerosis, as well as the mechanisms leading to the rupture of atherosclerotic plaques. Together with Dr Chen he developed a unique mouse model of plaque instability/rupture that closely reflects human plaque instability. He has developed novel biomarker (proteomic and microRNA) approaches and molecular imaging strategies using MRI, ultrasound, CT and PET towards the localisation of thrombi, inflammatory reactions and vulnerable, rupture-prone plaques and the identification of patients at risk of MI. 

One of his primary research interests is the development of new “intelligent” drugs for patients with MI. He has developed human single-chain antibody drugs that demonstrate highly promising properties with high anti-platelet, anticoagulant and fibrinolytic efficacy but reduced side effects, particularly bleeding complications. With his clinical background, his knowledge in pharmacology and his expertise in biotechnological methods, Prof Peter is uniquely placed for translational research. His work is the basis of several patent applications covering diagnostic tests/imaging for the detection of thrombi, vulnerable plaques and inflammatory reactions and site-directed therapy.