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Professor Sir Nilesh Samani will succeed Professor Peter Weissberg who will retire in October 2016 after twelve years as current Medical Director of The British Heart Foundation.

Professor Samani is currently British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiology and Head of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester and is also the Director of the NIHR Biomedical Research Unit and a consultant cardiologist at Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital.

Photo Credit : John Angerson
Photo Credit : John Angerson

Professor Samani explains what getting this role means to him: “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.”

He has co-led the discovery of over 50 genes associated with coronary heart disease (CHD), with the BHF Family Heart Study, 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.

In October 2015 the British Heart Foundation announced its new research strategy and committed to spending over half a billion pounds on research over five years. The Medical Director of the BHF oversees the charity’s research funding – the foundation 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.”

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at The British Heart Foundation shares his thoughts on the new appointment:  “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.”

Find out more about how the BHF is fighting heart disease at:

By: Jessica Challoner-Sterland