Introducing ISH President-Elect, Rhian Touyz MD, PhD, FRCP, FRSE
Posted on 11/10/2013
I am delighted to share with you a little about myself as I take on the role of President-Elect of ISH.
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa where I had the privilege of receiving an education at a specialised school for Art, Ballet and Music. Equipped with an outstanding matric in the arts, but no training in the sciences, I went on to study anatomy and physiology at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was introduced to cardiovascular research. I had great professors and was very quickly captivated with discovery and science and went on to pursue my PhD under the supervision of J. Milne, H. Seftel and N. Savage while at the same time completing my medical degree at Wits. My interest in hypertension research was triggered when, as a young medical student, I was faced with a patient as young as myself who had suffered a major debilitating stroke due to severe hypertension. The fact that the cause of his hypertension was unknown and that with blood pressure control the stroke most likely could have been prevented, left me with many questions, and so my interest and passion in hypertension research began.
In 1990, I had an abstract accepted at the Montreal 1990 ISH meeting. This was my first experience at an international meeting and I could not absorb enough knowledge and information from the most famous of hypertension researchers. I also had fantastic interactions with mentors in South Africa who were very involved with ISH including. Y.K. Seedat, J. Veriawa and C. Rosendorff. Fortuitously it was a year later in 1991 that I returned with my young family to settle in Montreal and in 1992 had the very good fortune of starting my post-doctoral fellowship at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal (CRIM), under the supervision of Ernesto Schiffrin, who is the current ISH president. It was during this time that my world of hypertension research blossomed - scientifically and academically and before long I was a researcher at CRIM, directing my own projects and group, all the while maintaining productive collaborations with the Schiffrin group. In 2005 I was recruited by Kevin Burns to the Kidney Research Centre (KRC), Ottawa Hospital Research Institute at the University of Ottawa, where I was a Senior Scientist and the Canada Research Chair in Hypertension. Together with my loyal and outstanding team, Drs G. Callera, A. Montezano, Y. He and A. Yogi, we moved from Montreal to the KRC in Ottawa to establish a new laboratory. My time in the KRC was very exciting and productive and it was there that I had opportunities to expand my research and better appreciate the role of the kidney in hypertension. My wonderful journey of hypertension research continued to expand and in 2011 I was recruited by Prof A. Dominiczak to become the Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences (ICAMS) at the University of Glasgow, where I now hold the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Chair of Cardiovascular Medicine. Together with Drs Augusto Montezano and Aurelie Cat-Tuong Nguyen, who followed me from Ottawa to Glasgow, we have now established a new laboratory and research team in the ICAMS, BHF Cardiovascular Research Centre in Glasgow.
My research relates to molecular, cellular and vascular mechanisms of clinical and experimental hypertension. My areas of study include signal transduction, oxidative stress, ion transport, cell and vascular biology, adipose tissue biology and diabetes. I have been so fortunate in being able to enjoy fundamental science and discovery at the bench while at the same time provide clinical care to patients with complex hypertension. This has facilitated my interest and passion for translational research. Without support from major funding agencies, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the British Heart Foundation, as well as fantastic trainees and collaborators, my research would not have been possible.
My research contributions have been recognised through various awards, including the 2005 Dahl Lecture Award by the American Heart Association, the 2006 Grace A Goldsmith Award, American Society of Nutrition, the 2009 Vincenzo Panagia Distinguished Lecture Award, Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences Award, the 2010 Distinguished Service award from Hypertension Canada and the 2012 Robert M. Berne Distinguished Lecturer of the American Physiological Society. I was involved in the writing of the annual Canadian hypertension guidelines and served as the co-chair of the Recommendations Task Force of the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP). My leadership roles in the hypertension community have included: Secretary of the South African Hypertension Society, President of the Canadian Hypertension Society, Chair of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research of the American Heart Association, Member of the Executive of ISH and now Director of the ICAMS in Glasgow. I am also the Editor-in-Chief of Clinical Science, Deputy Editor of Hypertension and Associate Editor of Pharmacological Reviews.
I am so proud and delighted to be your incoming President. Having had leadership roles in the hypertension community in Africa, Canada, USA and the UK, I believe I can truly represent the ‘international mandate’ of our Society. It is an honour to follow in the footsteps of the past few ISH presidents with whom I have worked very closely including Ernesto Schiffrin, Stephen Harrap, Tony Heagerty and Lars Lindholm, and I hope that with their continued input, insight and wisdom, I will serve you in the very best interests of ISH. I look forward to working and interacting with you and in the next few months will share with you some of my thoughts on new initiatives and projects as we move forward.