The University of Cape Town congratulates Emeritus Professor Lionel Opie of the UCT Hatter Institute of Cardiology Research, on receiving a National Research Foundation (NRF) Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday evening, 11 September 2014. The award recognises the lifelong research achievements of an individual who has made an outstanding or extraordinary contribution to the development of science in and for South Africa over an extended period of time. The contribution must be of international standard and impact.
UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price said: "For four decades, Professor Opie has kept UCT at the forefront of international cardiological research. On behalf of the university, I congratulate Professor Opie for his lifetime contribution to this important field and I thank him for his long service to UCT."
Professor Opie is described as "Africa's best known heart doctor" in the citation for the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) given by the President of South Africa in 2006 for his "excellent contribution to the knowledge of and achievement in the field of cardiology". This is just one of many awards that recognise his lifelong commitment to the lives of South Africans who suffer from heart disease.
In 2011 Professor Opie won the award of the National Science and Technology Forum-BHP Billiton Award that hailed his "Lifetime contribution to the improved understanding of the causes of heart attacks, and the more effective use of medication for heart diseases". He showed that damage to the cardiac muscle caused by heart attacks could be dramatically minimised by the simple act of blowing up and down a blood pressure cuff around the patient's upper arm. With the new technique, many more heart cells could be saved while the patient was being transported to hospital by ambulance. Opie has also received a silver medal from the SA Medical Research Council and the Wellcome gold medal for "Research of specific importance to South Africa".
Professor Opie is one of two recipients of the 2014 NRF Lifetime Achievement Award, along with Professor Hoosen Coovadia from the University of Witwatersrand and the University of Kwazulu-Natal.
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