Eminent researcher and cardiologist Professor Sir Nilesh Samani announced as next British Heart Foundation Medical Director

Posted by ap507 at Mar 21, 2016 09:00 AM |
Professor Samani will also continue research at the University of Leicester

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on Monday 21 March

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani has been announced as the next Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation (BHF). He will succeed Professor Peter Weissberg who will retire in October 2016 after twelve years as Medical Director of the cardiovascular research charity.

Professor Samani is currently BHF Professor of Cardiology at the University of Leicester (1), Head of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University, Director of the NIHR Biomedical Research Unit and a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester (2).

He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a NIHR Senior Investigator (3). In 2015 Professor Samani was knighted for services to medicine and medical research.

Among his many research achievements, Professor Samani has co-led the discovery of over 50 genes associated with coronary heart disease (CHD), with the BHF Family Heart Study (4), of which he was co-principal investigator making substantial contribution to this effort. These important findings are providing new insights into the causes of CHD and identifying potential future treatments to help prevent or slow the development of the condition (5).

Professor Samani said: “It is an enormous privilege to serve the Foundation as Medical Director. From my own experience, I know the central role the BHF plays in supporting cardiovascular research in the UK. Advances made through research funded by donations to the BHF have saved countless lives both in the UK and world-wide and reduced the devastating burden of premature heart disease on families and individuals.”

In October 2015 the BHF announced its new research strategy and committed to spending over half a billion pounds on research over five years (6). The Medical Director of the BHF oversees the charity’s research funding – the BHF currently funds over half of all non-commercial cardiovascular research in UK universities and hospitals. Through donations to the charity, the BHF funds over 1,000 different research grants at any one time.

Professor Samani said: “Although there has been great progress, cardiovascular diseases still remain the number one killer and a growing problem in many parts of the world. The BHF has recently announced an ambitious strategy for funding research for the next five years so it’s tremendously exciting to take on this role at this stage.

“By working with the research community in the UK and overseas, the NHS and other funders, including the Government, and patients and the public, we will continue to make important breakthroughs that save and benefit the lives of people with heart and circulatory disease.”

Alongside his new role as the BHF’s Medical Director, Professor Samani will continue research at the University of Leicester and some clinical work at Glenfield Hospital, part of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Professor Samani is an outstanding, world-renowned researcher who has led the development of cardiovascular research at Leicester for many years.

“His research has greatly advanced our understanding of how our DNA affects our heart disease risk, which is now guiding researchers looking for more effective future treatments. Professor Samani has combined his research with clinical work that is bringing the benefits of research to his patients now.

“Everyone at the BHF looks forward to working with Professor Samani on ensuring the UK remains a world-leader in cardiovascular research and continues to fund science that is both exceptional, and most importantly, benefits the 7 million people with cardiovascular disease in the UK and the tens of millions more around the world.”

Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester said:

“This is a tremendous honour and tribute to the talent of an inspirational member of our University community. Professor Samani's world-class work has helped to establish Leicester as an internationally renowned centre of excellence for cardiovascular research. His results have had a huge local and global impact. He has pioneered major advances in his field and he will bring this wealth of experience to bear on advancing the excellent work the British Heart Foundation does. The whole of the University community wishes him well and we look forward to continuing our association with him in his capacity as Professor of Cardiology at the University.”

Professor Philip Baker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology and Dean of Medicine at the University of Leicester said:

“Whilst this prestigious national leadership role is a reflection of Professor Samani’s stellar career, I’m delighted that he will continue to lead his highly successful research group in Leicester. We wish him every success in his new position.”

John Adler, Chief Executive of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust said:

“Professor Samani is a clinician and researcher of huge talent and all his colleagues within Leicester’s Hospitals will be delighted by this news, particularly as he is to combine this prestigious national role with a continued presence in Leicester."

For over 50 years the BHF has invested in world leading research that has helped transform the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions. There are around 175,000 heart attacks in the UK each year, meaning someone suffers a heart attack every three minutes, but successful research has led to treatments that mean seven in ten people now survive. A quarter of all deaths in the UK are caused by cardiovascular disease and there are an estimated seven million people living with the condition (7).

The BHF raises vital funds to fight heart disease through legacies, fundraising and its over 700 charity shops across the UK.

Find out more about how the BHF is fighting heart disease at bhf.org.uk/research

ENDS

For more information please call the BHF press office on newsdesk@bhf.org.uk

Notes to editors:

1) https://www.bhf.org.uk/research/our-top-professors/professor-nilesh-samani

2) More information about Professor Samani: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/cardiovascular-sciences/people/samani

3) Senior Investigators are the NIHR’s pre-eminent researchers and represent the country’s most outstanding leaders of clinical and applied health and social care research. Senior Investigators are fundamental to the formation of the NIHR Faculty. http://www.nihr.ac.uk/our-faculty/senior-investigators.htm

4) https://www.bhf.org.uk/research/heart-research-history/family-history

5) On 7 March 2016 research was published outlining genes associated with increased heart attack risk. And on 10 March 2016, research showed how ‘good’ HDL cholesterol can in some cases increase heart disease risk.

6) Download the BHF’s research strategy: https://www.bhf.org.uk/researchstrategy

7) https://www.bhf.org.uk/statistics

The British Heart Foundation

Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer. For over 50 years we’ve pioneered research that’s transformed the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions. Our work has been central to the discoveries of vital treatments that are changing the fight against heart disease. But so many people still need our help. From babies born with life-threatening heart problems to the many Mums, Dads and Grandparents who survive a heart attack and endure the daily battles of heart failure. Join our fight for every heartbeat in the UK. Every pound raised, minute of your time and donation to our shops will help make a difference to people’s lives.

For more information visit bhf.org.uk.

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