University of Leicester researchers celebrate 'double hat trick' in heart research awards

Posted by pt91 at Oct 14, 2011 11:13 AM |
Third-year in a row for national accolades by University researchers at Glenfield Hospital
University of Leicester researchers celebrate 'double hat trick' in heart research awards

Dr Will Nicolson of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 14 October 2011

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A University of Leicester researcher is celebrating a hat-trick of awards for the quality of his work.

Dr Will Nicolson, Clinical Research Fellow at the Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit, won a prestigious Young Investigator Prize at the annual Heart Rhythm Congress 2011. This is a personal “hat-trick” having won a Young Investigators’ Award at CardioRhythm in Hong Kong in February and the East Midlands Engineering and Science Professionals Master’s Prize in May.

Dr Nicolson was one of 6 finalists shortlisted for the competition at the annual conference of Heart Rhythm UK, which is the national society dealing with all aspects of heart rhythm care. There were two top prizes for the competition (basic and clinical science). Dr Nicolson won the clinical prize which was announced and presented to him during the Gala Dinner at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole Hotel.

Dr Nicolson has been working on the subject of sudden cardiac death under the supervision of Dr G. André Ng, Senior Lecturer in Cardiology at the University of Leicester and Dr Gerry McCann, cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) specialist at Leicester Hospitals. 

3 million people die annually of sudden cardiac death - 100,000 in the UK alone – as a result of lethal heart rhythm disturbances.  These deaths could be prevented with a device called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), inserted in a minor operation.  However, it is very difficult to work out who needs an ICD because current risk markers for sudden cardiac death are limited.  This has led NICE to call for research into new risk markers.

Dr André Ng has spent over a decade researching into the fundamental cardiac electrical properties to understand what makes the heart susceptible to these lethal rhythm problems.  Dr Nicolson’s research translates this enhanced understanding and creates a "LifeMapTM": an electrical map of sudden cardiac death risk using an ECG and combines it with a cardiac MRI anatomical map of arrhythmia risk.

The work presented at the competition was a pilot study demonstrating the great potential for the new technique as a sudden death predictor.  The study took 26 patients being considered for an ICD and 29 normal 'control' patients and tested the ability of the "LifeMapTM" to distinguish between normal and high risk patients and to predict sudden cardiac death.  The results were very promising and importantly showed "LifeMapTM" to be independent of current risk markers and to correlate with cardiac MRI data.

The University of Leicester has patented the technology behind "LifeMapTM".  The research is in its early stage with a 160 patient study ongoing but the team is already looking towards collaboration with Industry on a clinical version of the device. LifeMapTM has also previously won a Da Vinci award and a prestigious Medical Futures Best Innovation in Diagnostics award earlier this year in June.

On the subject of “hat-tricks”, this is the third year in a row that a research fellow from Dr Ng’s research group has won in the Young Investigator Prize competition at Heart Rhythm Congress – Dr Tuan (clinical) in 2009, Dr Brack (basic science) last year and Dr Nicolson (clinical) this year. Dr Ng commented, “We have a very strong group of talented young researchers in both basic science and clinical streams working together to address important areas of heart rhythm disorders. I am delighted with their achievements and accolades which testify to the high quality of scientific research here in Leicester.”


Heart Rhythm UK is the national affiliated group of the British Cardiovascular Society dealing with all aspects of cardiac arrhythmia care and electrical device based therapies. It was formed in 2005 by the amalgamation of the British Pacing and Electrophysiology Group (BPEG), the British Association of Arrhythmia Nurses (BANA) and the UK Interventional Electrophysiology Society (UKICES). It acts as a unifying focus for professionals involved in arrhythmia care and electrical therapies in the UK. The society has members drawn from several different professional bodies including Consultant Cardiologists, Cardiac Physiologists, Arrhythmia Nurses and trainees from each of these disciplines. All members are eligible to vote in elections to the Organising Council. The society has four main subgroups to focus and advance work in key professional areas:

• Interventional Electrophysiology

• Device Therapy

• Cardiac Physiologists

• Arrhythmia Nursing (and Allied Professions)

Heart Rhythm Congress

The Heart Rhythm Congress is an annual event which brings together all those with an interest in arrhythmias. It offers an educational opportunity for members of the medical, allied professional and industry communities to increase their own and others' knowledge of heart rhythm disorders, and does this in an open, interactive environment. The congress boasts a full programme of scientific sessions along with training courses, patient group conferences, live cases, industry sessions, a patients' day and DoH and PCT meetings, with a trade exhibition running throughout.

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