Endocrine Hypertension Research Centre

The University of Queensland's Endocrine Hypertension Research Centre is based at Greenslopes and Princess Alexandra Hospitals. The Centre is a major clinical referral centre for the management of hypertension and our research investigates:

  • endocrine varieties - especially primary aldosteronism (PA),
  • renovascular hypertension,
  • pheochromocytoma,
  • renin-secreting tumors,
  • the syndrome of hypertension and hyperkalemia with normal glomerular filtration rate, also known as hereditary hyperkalemic hypertension, and
  • pseudo-hypoaldosteronism type 2 or Gordon's syndrome (named after the Centre's founder). 

Research

Major areas of the Centre's ongoing research and research collaborations in this and other fields include: 

  • optimisation of the detection, diagnostic workup and management of patients with PA 
  • clinical, biochemical and genetic aspects of a glucocorticoid-suppressible, familial variety of PA (familial hyperaldosteronism type I, FH-I), including the determinants of hypertension severity in this disorder 
  • searching for genetic mutations responsible for a second familial variety of PA (FH-II - in collaboration with Drs David Duffy and Grant Montgomery, Queensland Institute of Medical Research; A/Prof Constantine Stratakis, Bethesda, Maryland, USA; Professor Francesco Fallo, Padova, Italy; Dr Paulo Mulatero, Torino, Italy; Professor Maria New, New York, New York, USA; Dr Kevin O'Shaughnessy, Cambridge, UK; and Prof Matthew Brown, University of Queensland Diamantina Institute & Institute of Molecular Biosciences) which the Centre described for the first time in the early 1990's 
  • development of a new, highly accurate and reproducible aldosterone assay system using mass spectrometry 
  • non-blood pressure-dependent adverse effects of aldosterone excess (in collaboration with Professor Thomas Marwick, formerly University of Queensland and now Cleveland Clinic), including the role of salt in the generation of aldosterone-induced injury 
  • pathophysiology and genetics of Gordon's syndrome, condition characterized by familial hypertension and high blood potassium levels and which was named after the EHRC's founder  (work being performed in collaboration with Dr Kevin O'Shaughnessy, Cambridge, UK).

Our achievements

The Centre has in recent years placed particular emphasis on epidemiological, biochemical, morphological and genetic aspects of primary aldosteronism (PA) and has attracted much attention for its work in this area. It demonstrated 19 years ago that this potentially curable condition is approximately ten times more common than previously thought, a finding which has led to the identification of thousands of patients who would otherwise have gone undetected, and in whom hypertension has been cured or markedly improved following surgical or specific medical treatment. It also described the phenotypic characteristics of a common but rarely recognised tumorous form (angiotensin-II responsive aldosterone-producing adenoma) and a new and more common familial variety (familial hyperaldosteronism type II, FH-II). It has contributed to the diagnosis, pathophysiology and treatment of the first described, rare, familial form of PA (FH-I) which is glucocorticoid-remediable.

Research at the Centre has demonstrated evidence of non-blood pressure related adverse cardiovascular effects of aldosterone excess in normotensive subjects with FH-I in collaboration with Professor Tom Marwick, University of Queensland Department of Medicine, Princess Alexandra Hospital using state-of-the-art echocardiographic techniques to study fibrosis and remodelling of the heart. Ongoing studies are focussing on the interaction of aldosterone and salt in the generation of disease states (including cardiac hypertrophy, renal damage and obstructive sleep apnoea) in patients with PA.

Our clinical expertise

Four Hypertension Clinics weekly (three at PAH and one at GH) plus referrals from private rooms provide a sophisticated diagnostic and treatment service for patients from all over Queensland and Northern NSW, with occasional referrals from further afield including Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania and Asia. Detailed and rigorous inpatient (in demarcated "Hypertension Unit" beds) investigation and treatment protocols are closely supervised by dedicated "Hypertension Unit" nurses. More than 1500 thoroughly studied and documented patients with PA provide a unique resource for further research into causes, diagnosis and treatment, and have led to important collaborations with first-class overseas investigators.

The Centre offers opportunities for training of both Medical and Science graduates in hypertension investigation, treatment and research which is both applied and basic, with clinical relevance, in selected cases leading to the award of a PhD.

Our people

Directors

The Centre's current Director is Prof Michael Stowasser and its founding Director was E/Prof Richard Gordon.

Emeritus Professor Gordon established the Hypertension Unit and the Endocrine Hypertension Research Unit (later to become the Centre) at Greenslopes Hospital in 1970 and has over 40 years of clinical and research experience in the pathogenesis, diagnostic workup and management of various forms of hypertension and especially of endocrine varieties. In 1994 Professor Gordon was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions to medicine, especially in the area of endocrine hypertension.

Professor Stowasser has over 25 years research experience and a PhD in endocrine hypertension and is Director of the Hypertension Unit at Princess Alexandra Hospital where the Centre's laboratory is currently based. He is also current Director of the Hypertension Unit at Greenslopes Hospital.

Academic

Research assistants

  • Nicole Wu

Hypertension nurses

  • Tanya Kolb 
  • Diane Cowley
  • Cynthia Kogovsek

Postdoctoral students

  • Zeng Guo
  • Dr Martin Wolley
  • Nicole Wu

Giving

By donating to the Queensland Hypertension Association, a not-for-profit organisation under the auspices of the Endocrine Hypertension Research Centre (EHRC), you can help the EHRC to continue much-needed research towards understanding how high blood pressure develops and finding new ways to treat and even cure it.

Funds received through donations, gifts and bequests will help us stay at the cutting edge of research, and directly benefit our research programs which are helping people with high blood pressure, as well as the general community.

The EHRC is grateful to members of the public and organisations that have recognised our research efforts and continue to support our endeavours.  

To support the EHRC through donations, please contact:

Bernadette Lynch
Secretary/Treasurer
Queensland Hypertension Association
Telephone: 07 33974236
Email: qhainc@ozemail.com.au

Or you can mail to:

Queensland Hypertension Association
PO Box 193
HOLLAND PARK
Qld 4121

Donations over $2.00 are tax-deductible.

Contact

Endocrine Hypertension Research Centre

The University of Queensland
Princess Alexandra Hospital
Ipswich Road
Woolloongabba QLD 4102
Australia

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Office hours
8:30am - 4:30pm, Monday to Friday

General enquiries
m.stowasser@uq.edu.au
Phone: + 61 7 3176 2694  
Fax: + 61 7 3176 2969