Cardiology, Diabetes & Nephrology at the Limits 2020



Professor Derek Yellon

Derek M Yellon PhD, DSc (UK), DSc (SA), FRCP, FACC, FESC, FAHA, is Professor of Molecular & Cellular Cardiology at University College London (UCL) and Director of the Hatter Cardiovascular Institute at UCL & UCLH.

He is past Programme Director (Cardiology & Diabetes) for the National Institute for Health Research-UCLH-Biomedical Research Centre and past Vice President of the British Cardiovascular Society. In 1994 he was awarded a DSc from the University of Bath for his “substantial contribution to the knowledge of cardiovascular disease and treatment”. In 2013 he was awarded a second Doctor of Science (honorius causa) degree from the University of Cape Town in recognition of his distinguished basic and clinical research in the mechanisms underlying the phenomena of myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury and cardioprotection.

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians; the American College of Cardiology; the European Society of Cardiology; the International Society for Heart Research and the American Heart Association.

Professor Yellon was instrumental in establishing a second Hatter Cardiovascular Institute at the Medical School of the University of Cape Town. In recognition of these achievements he was, in 1997, made an Hon Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town. He also holds Honorary Chairs at the University of South Alabama in the USA, and the North China Coal Medical University in China.

He is on the editorial board of a number of major Cardiovascular Journals and has published in excess of 550 full papers and edited 23 books. He runs a translational research Institute with his main area of interest being the pathophysiology of acute myocardial infarction. This relates specifically cardioprotection in the setting of diabetes, ischaemia/reperfusion injury, molecular aspects of adaptation to ischaemic injury and myocardial pre and postconditioning in both the basic and clinical arena.

Professor Lionel Opie

Lionel H. Opie, MD, DPhil, DSc, FRCP is Professor of Medicine Emeritus, Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa, Department of Medicine, University of Cape Town.

After graduating from the University of Cape Town, he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and later worked with Sir Hans Krebs, Nobel Laureate. With Richard Bing, he established the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Cardiology in 1970. After the first Heart transplant by Barnard, Opie was invited back from London in 1971 to develop basic heart research in Ischaemic Heart Disease, for which he received a MRC Unit (1976-1998). He was Visiting Professor (1984-1998) at Stanford University, California. From 2003-February 2010, he was Director, Hatter Cardiovascular Research Institute, Department of Medicine.

His major book, “Drugs for the Heart”, Elsevier, was first published as six articles in the Lancet with the 8th edition co-edited with Gersh in 2013. The British Medical Journalists gave first prize to “Living Longer, Living Better” (Oxford University Press, 2010).

In 2006 he received the highest Presidential award in South Africa, the Order of Mapungubwe, being cited as internationally the best-known cardiologist in Africa after Barnard. In 2011 he became Senior Scholar at the University of Cape Town. In 2012 he received top (A1) research grading and grant support from the National Research Council of South Africa. In 2012 he received the Honorary DSc degrees from the University of Stellenbosch, "for his contributions as an internationally acclaimed cardiologist, his formidable and virtually unequalled research output, for his pioneering work on the energy metabolism of the heart, and for his exceptional talent as author and lecturer to translate complex scientific processes into comprehensible concepts."

He has had the on-going honour of developing Cardiology at the Limits with Derek Yellon, at whose suggestion they initiated the series in 1997.

In 2012 they were cited on The Lancet front cover as "fostering the exchange of science and medicine between African and European continents".

Professor John Cunningham

John Cunningham is a clinician-scientist holding positions as Professor of Nephrology at University College London Medical School and The Royal Free Hospital and an Honorary Fellowship at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, both in the UK. His early training was in Cambridge (pre-clinical) and Oxford, UK (clinical), with postgraduate training at The University of London and Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, USA under Drs Louis V Avioli and Eduardo Slatopolsky.  He has remained an active frontline clinician in both nephrology and internal medicine. John Cunningham was Physician to HM The Queen and was knighted for services to The Royal Family in June 2014.

Academically Professor Cunningham has contributed to the understanding of the effect of acidosis on the bioactivation of vitamin D and described and characterised hysteresis in the parathyroid response to calcium, indicating that parathyroid cells can sense both the direction of change and the absolute concentration of ECF calcium. He subsequently ran research programmes examining the following: control by structurally modified vitamin D metabolites at PTH synthesis and release; the synthesis and release of bone cytokines by osteoblast like cells and the regulation of these by vitamin D metabolites; the location and relevance of the calcium sensing receptor in bone cells; the influence of simulated uraemia on the release of cytokines by bone cells; the factors mediating bone loss following renal transplantation and preventative strategies; the factors that control parathyroid function in vivo, including new vitamin D metabolites and calcimimetic agents. Professor Cunningham’s group has found that new structurally modified metabolites of vitamin D differ markedly in the way they influence the behaviour of both parathyroid cells and bone cells. His group also devised, conducted and published studies of the first effective prophylaxis against bone loss in the post-transplant setting. On these and other subjects, Professor Cunningham frequently lectures nationally and internationally, as well as serving on numerous international expert panels and working groups. He is a founding Co-chairman of the Nephrology at the Limits series held under the auspices of University College London, The University of Cape Town, and The Lancet.

Dr Peter Libby

Peter Libby, MD, is a cardiovascular specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds the Mallinckrodt Professorship of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He served as Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at BWH from 1998 - 2014. His areas of clinical expertise include general and preventive cardiology. His current major research focus is the role of inflammation in vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.  Dr Libby has a particular devotion to translate laboratory studies to pilot and then large-scale clinical cardiovascular outcome trials.

Dr Libby has received numerous awards and recognitions for his research accomplishments, including most recently the Gold Medal of the European Society of Cardiology (2011), the Basic Research Prize of the American Heart Association (2011), the Anitschkow Prize in Atherosclerosis Research of the European Atherosclerosis Society (2013), and the Special Award of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (2014). He has received a number of lifetime achievement awards various organizations. Dr Libby was selected as Consulting Editor of the year by Circulation Research in 2015 and received a 2015 High Citation Award as an editorial board member of Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. He was awarded the Ernst Jung Gold Medal for Medicine for 2016.

Dr Libby’s elected professional memberships include the Association of American Physicians, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and honorary memberships in the British Atherosclerosis Society, the Japan Circulation Society, and the Japanese College of Cardiology. He has served as the President of the Association of University Cardiologists. He also has served in many roles as a volunteer for the American Heart Association, including chairman of several research committees and member of the executive committees of the Councils on Arteriosclerosis, Circulation, and Basic Science. He presided the American College of Cardiology’s Research Allocations Peer Review Committee for two terms. He has frequently consulted for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, including a 5-year term on the Board of Scientific Councilors. He directed the DW Reynolds Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center and two cycles of Leducq Foundation Awards and has received continuous funding from the US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for several decades.

An author and lecturer on cardiovascular medicine and atherosclerosis, Dr. Libby has published extensively in medical journals including Circulation, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, New England Journal of Medicine, and Nature. He is an Editor of Braunwald’s Heart Disease, having served as the Editor-in Chief of the 8th Edition. Dr. Libby has also contributed chapters on the pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of atherosclerosis to many editions of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. He has held numerous visiting professorships and delivered more than 80 major named or keynote lectures throughout the world.

Dr Libby earned his medical degree at the University of California, San Diego, and completed his training in internal medicine and cardiology at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women’s Hospital). He also holds an honorary MA degree from Harvard University, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Lille, France.

Dr Marc Pfeffer

Dr Pfeffer is currently the Dzau Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Senior Physician in the Cardiovascular Division at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA USA.

A noted researcher, Dr Pfeffer is credited with introducing the concept that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors could attenuate adverse ventricular remodelling following myocardial infarction and that this use would result in a prolongation of survival and other clinical benefits. Since this initial discovery, he has had a principal role in several practice-changing clinical trials.

In addition to his role as researcher in the field of cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, heart failure, diabetes and chronic kidney disease, Marc Pfeffer plays an active role in the academic development of trainees and junior faculty collaborating in trials. Dr Pfeffer is Senior Associate Editor of Circulation and is a member of the Editorial Board of several other prominent journals.

As an internationally recognized expert in the field of cardiology, in 2006 he was recognized by Science Watch as having the most “Hot Papers” (i.e., highly cited) in all of clinical medicine.

He is the recipient of the William Harvey Award of the American Society of Hypertension, the Okamoto Award from Japan’s Vascular Disease Research Foundation, the Clinical Research Prize, the James B. Herrick Award as well as the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Heart Association. Dr Pfeffer is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and is the recipient of an Honorary Doctoral Degree from Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Professor Mpiko Ntsekhe

Mpiko Ntsekhe MD PhD F.A.C.C currently serves as the Hellen and Morris Mauerberger Professor and Chair of Cardiology, at the University of Cape Town and Head of Clinical Cardiology at Groote Schuur Hospital. Prior to this he was Director of the Catheter Laboratory Senior Consultant in the Division of Cardiology at the same hospital.

His interests include the interface between infectious diseases and the cardiovascular system with a focus on HIV and tuberculosis. Prof Ntsekhe has a well-iestablished publication track record including several book chapters, numerous peer reviewed articles in high impact journals such as Circulation, Nature Cardiology Reviews and the European Heart Journal. He is a regular reviewer for a number of prestigious journals also serves as an editoral board member for a few. He is a frequent speaker at local and international congresses and society meetings


Professor Brian Rayner

Brian Rayner is Head of the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at the Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa, and established the Kidney and Hypertension Research Unit in 2016. He is a past President of the Southern African Hypertension Society and is an executive member of the African Regional Advisory Group of the International Society of Hypertension. He graduated in M.B.Ch.B. from University of Cape Town in 1978, obtained Fellowship of the College of Medicine (SA) in 1986, and has a Master of Medicine and PhD from the University of Cape Town.  His doctoral thesis studied salt sensitivity and salt sensitive hypertension in indigenous South African people. He received the World Hypertension League Award for Notable Achievement in Hypertension in 2014 in his work related to his doctorate.

The Division of Nephrology and Hypertension and the Kidney and Hypertension Research Unit is an active training and research centre training Nephrologists from Sub-Saharan Africa, and has active Masters and Doctoral programmes. In 2016 the International Society of Nephrology endorsed the Division as a Regional Training Centre of excellence.

Brian Rayner's active research interests are therapy of hypertension, mutations in the ENaC, genetic determinants of salt sensitivity, HIVAN, vascular calcification and chronic kidney disease, primary aldosteronism, assessing adherence in hypertensive patients, ethics of rationing dialysis therapy, AKI and genetics of severe hypertension in blacks. He has a major interest in hypertension guidelines, and together with Profs Seedat and Veriava wrote the 2014 South African Hypertension Practice Guideline. He has 109 publications in peer reviewed journals, is on the editorial board of the CVS Journal of Africa, Austen Hypertension and Nephron Clinical Practice, and acts as a reviewer for many peer reviewed international journals, has made over 100 presentations at local and international congresses (many of which were invited plenary sessions) and has written 6 chapters in books.


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