Saifei Liu

Saifei Liu

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

With a background of Medicine (Hebei Medical University, China), Medical Biotechnology (Masters, Flinders University) and Medical Science (PhD, University of Adelaide), I am a basic and translational cardiovascular researcher, undertaking a wide range of clinical and basic science research projects.
My current research relates to three areas:- (i) Chemotherapy induced cardiotoxicity, (ii) B-type natriuretic peptide physiology and pathophysiology in heart failure, and (iii) Mechanistic interactions of inflammatory activation and glycocalyx shedding in cardiovascular disease.

Topic 1: Chemotherapy induced cardiotoxicity

Cancer now affects more than 1 in 3 people in their lifetime and along with cardiovascular disease, they are the two leading causes of death. Cancer outcomes contribute to improve due to earlier detection and newer targeted therapies, with chemotherapy and immunotherapy playing prominent roles in treating many forms of cancer. Recently, substantial improvements in outcomes among patients treated for most cancers have been recorded, but virtually all the agents utilized can cause permanent and potentially fatal heart damage (cardiotoxicity). If this process is left unchecked, it can sometimes cause severe heart failure. Although this is rare (under 1 in 20 patients), heart failure is a serious illness that can be difficult to treat, with a high mortality rate. At this stage, the exact mechanism of drug-induced cardiotoxicity remains unclear.

We are currently running a clinical trial recruiting cancer patients attending QEH Oncology clinics and receiving chemotherapy to study the potential usefulness of certain biomarkers to early identify patients at risk of developing heart failure and help us guide future treatment. We have also established a cell-culture model of anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity in human cardiac myocytes and aim to use this to evaluate (1) the mechanisms associated with damage to the heart cells and (2) potential cardio protective treatment options.

We are also planning to start setting up a clinical Cardio-Oncology Registry, to evaluate tumor-related and cardiovascular outcomes in all patients considered for cancer chemo- or immuno-therapy.

Topic 2: Impaired BNP anti-inflammatory effects in acute heart failure: interactions with viral infections and pharmacotherapy.

Acute heart failure (AHF) represents a very common cause of admission to hospitals and indeed to
intensive care units. With a progressive increase in numbers of patients in the community with chronic
heart failure, this is an increasingly important problem.
B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a hormone released from the heart which releases blood vessels and
helps to resolve inflammation: the latter is a major feature of AHF. I have previously shown that in
patients with AHF, the anti-inflammatory effects of BNP are defective, but that they recover over the
next few weeks as patients are treated.
Very recently, researchers (mainly in Melbourne) have shown that the influenza virus induces, and
thrives in, and environment of high levels of inflammation. Thus would help to explain why influenza
often causes AHF, but no specific treatment is available.
We propose to study patients admitted to hospital with AHF with/without viral infections, and:-
(1) determine whether impairment of BNP response is particularly marked in the presence of viral
(2) identify optimal strategies for rapid restoration of BNP response.
The results should assist in the management of patients with AHF

  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2017 - 2018 Postdoctoral Fellow University of Adelaide, Adelaide
    2015 - 2016 Technical Officer The Queen Elizabeth Hospital
  • Language Competencies

    Language Competency
    Chinese (Mandarin) Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
    English Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2011 - 2015 University of Adelaide, Adelaide Australia PhD
    2008 - 2009 Flinders University, Adelaide Australia Masters
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2017 - 2018 Co-Supervisor Chemotherapy induced cardiotoxicity Basil Hetzel Institute - Honours - Dongqing Chen
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2019 - ongoing Member European Society of Cardiology France
    2019 - ongoing Member ESC Council on Stroke France
    2012 - ongoing Member CSANZ Australia

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