BHF Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine
Honorary Consultant Cardiologist
Lead of the Cardiovascular Theme of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre
Immediate Past President of the European Society of Cardiology (first woman in this role).
Radcliffe Department of Medicine – Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Tell us a bit about your role
I lead a bench-to-bedside translational research programme, which spans from clinical trials to bench-based investigation in human tissue and cells.
I have been funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), first as a senior Research Fellow and then as a Chair, and by 3 BHF Programme Grants. This support, great collaborations, and the availability of core research facilities have been instrumental to my career as an investigator.
I believe scientists and institutions need to engage in constant evolution and continuously consider and evaluate openly and transparently the ways in which they could do better. To this end, I have found the attitude and environment of the University’s “wider landscape” quite frustrating and engagement in leadership roles outside Oxford more rewarding.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
To have discovered that I can be very effective when I engage in projects/initiatives that I believe would benefit the scientific community and patients with cardiovascular disease. I also seem to have learnt to join the dots, which is not something I was able to do when I was younger - now I see interesting patterns where I previously only saw and considered each dot separately.
Every time one of my collaborators/trainees is shortlisted for an award or receives a prize I feel 5 years younger.
Can you tell us about something you've done, contributed to that you're most proud of?
At the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) I established and chaired the Society’s 5-yr Strategic Plan on Research that led to a 6-fold increase in revenue and investment in fellowships and grants. I established a Taskforce on “New models of collaboration between industry, health professionals, and the ESC to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease” that led to “EuroHeart”, an initiative supporting the assessment and improvement of quality of cardiovascular care (QCC) in Europe based on continuous recording or extraction of individual patient data and the adoption of an harmonised set of QCC indicators. This initiative also offers opportunities for observational and randomized research and post-marketing surveillance of new devices and pharmacotherapies. I am particularly proud to have established the “ESC Patient Forum” and convinced the international and very diverse membership of the Society that patients should be involved in most of the Society’s activities, including the Practice Guidelines, Advocacy and Education. Same for the “Young Communities”, which are now represented at Board level in the ESC. I chaired the two most successful congresses the Society ever had – one in-person with 35K delegates in 2019 and one in a digital format in 2020 with 125K delegates, both of which had the most positive feedback recorded to date (over 85% of participants considered them excellent).
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
Greater diversity in leadership (gender, background, ethnicity); better communication and transparency in decision-making; less paternalism, stereotyping and conservatism; real equal-pay opportunities; and the lack of need to talk about women as a separate category.