BHF Professor gets high accolade

4 September 2013        

Professor Barbara Casadei

Professor Barbara Casadei, Atrial Fibrillation specialist and British Heart Foundation Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine, has received high honours at the annual European Society of Cardiologists conference in Amsterdam.

Every year the conference organisers invite scientists to contribute a special series of lectures named after world-renowned physicians and researchers. These scientists are nominated by their peers as leading experts in their fields of research.

This is the result of 20 years at the top of cardiovascular science.


This year, Professor Casadei was selected to deliver the William Harvey Lecture on Basic Science. This accolade is the result of 20 years at the top of cardiovascular science. Starting in 1978 with an academic scholarship to study medicine at the Collegio Nuovo near Milan, she arrived in the UK in 1989 for a six month stint at the University of Oxford and never left.

Within two years of her arrival in England, she’d been awarded the Joan and Richard Doll Research Fellowship at Green College, Oxford. Professor Casadei went on to win multiple research prizes and research grants, becoming a professor in 2006.

She is now Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Oxford, and at the end of 2012 became a BHF Chair. We have awarded Barbara and her team over £1.9 million to look into the causes of atrial fibrillation, and come up with new and improved treatments for patients.

Uncovering Atrial Fibrillation

Around 950,000 people in the UK have atrial fibrillation. Also known by its initials, AF, the condition mostly affects people aged 55 and over and greatly increases the risk of having a stroke. The symptoms of atrial fibrillation – an irregular or racing heartbeat, tiredness, dizziness, feeling faint and shortness of breath – can cause real distress for sufferers.

Professor Casadei’s work has helped establish a detailed picture of what happens in the malfunctioning heart during AF. Her lecture at the conference – one of the largest gatherings of cardiovascular expertise in the world – covered her new insights into the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying AF, and how this research might result in new ways of treating people.

One important breakthrough was her discovery that statins, which are usually used to lower cholesterol, could prevent the crucial signals that lead to AF developing in patients who have undergone major cardiovascular surgery.

Other research run by Professor Casadei is looking at a possible link between AF and inflammation. Inflammation is a normal part of the body’s response to infection and injury, but is also linked to other diseases, particularly coronary heart disease, the major cause of heart attacks.

Supported by your donations

Professor Casadei's work is currently supported by your donations. She is carrying out the highest quality science, which could lead to new ways of tackling one of the most common heart conditions in the UK. All of the research we fund depends entirely on your generosity.

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