Two take heart from international honour

26 July 2010


Prof Bongani Mayosi Prof Karen Sliwa
Heading north: Profs Bongani Mayosi and Karen Sliwa will continue their work with long-time collaborators at the Population Health Research Institute, to which they've been invited as international scholars.



UCT's Professors Bongani Mayosi and Karen Sliwa have been named as international scholars to the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) at McMaster University, Canada, paving the way for further research in the population studies of heart disease in South Africa.

Mayosi, head of the Department of Medicine, and Sliwa, director of the Hatter Cardiovascular Research Institute, are among the latest recipients of the PHRI award, made to "highly productive and successful researchers of international distinction, and long-standing collaborators of the PHRI".

Mayosi has been collaborating with executive director Professor Salim Yusuf and his "wonderful team of researchers" at the PHRI - one of the world's leading research institutes in cardiovascular disease - for five years. In addition, several of Mayosi's colleagues, including Professor Patrick Commerford of the Cardiac Clinic, have been working with that group even longer.

The award, Mayosi said, cemented a vital relationship with a highly respected international organisation, and is beneficial to UCT's ongoing ambitions to play a key role in global health. For example, the two teams have worked on tuberculous pericarditis and rheumatic heart disease, both associated with poverty.

"The area of poverty-related heart diseases has been completely neglected," Mayosi noted.

Sliwa, meanwhile, looks forward to the access that UCT researchers will have to the particular skills of the population study centre in Canada, which will allow them to set up very large, high-quality research projects in low-resource areas.

Sliwa has been working with Yusuf, one of the world's most distinguished researchers in population studies, for more than a decade. They collaborated on the renowned Interheart study, among others, one of the landmark studies on risk factors leading to myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

Ultimately, this led her to her own population study, the Heart of Soweto Study, a registry of more than 12 000 men and women with heart disease from this Johannesburg community.

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