Dr Annemarie Wentzel

Research Faculty and Senior Lecturer

Hypertension in Africa Research Team (HART), North-West University (NWU), Potchefstroom, South Africa

South African Medical Research Council, Unit for Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease, NWU, Potchefstroom, South Africa

  1. What is your role at your work?

As my research focus is neuro-cardiology and cardiometabolic stress reactivity, I also participate in community outreach programs focussed on neuro-cardiology. I also have the privilege to train the next generation of neuro-and cardiovascular physiologists in basic, research and translational physiology. Thus, the trifecta of research, training and community engagement.

How did you get interested in your career path?

The miraculous manner by which people are designed is what fuels my curiosity. And having the privilege of exploring the link between the brain and heart, provides a literal, health-sciences translation to the saying “a good heart and a good brain are a formidable combination”.

What are you most proud of in your career or otherwise?

Most recently I am grateful for my time as a Visiting fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the US, where I was granted the Coleman Innovation Award by the NIMHD-NIH. Additionally, receiving the AHA 2023 Paul-Dudley White International Scholar Award for the best scientific submission from my country. Yet, one must always remember that science is a team sport.

What important career challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Working as a scientist outside my home country was quite daunting at first, but due to the support of the local scientific community, it was a true adventure. As physiology is quite a specialized field, positions, funding opportunities and communities are quite scarce. Yet this creates the ideal environment for interdisciplinary collaboration!

What advice would you give your younger self?

You are not supposed to win or lose arguments. You are supposed to reach a mutual understanding and agreement, otherwise everyone loses.

Highlight your most significant research contributions and publications.

  • Wentzel A et al. The Africans in America study demonstrates that subclinical cardiovascular risk differs by etiology of abnormal glucose tolerance. Scientific Reports 2022, 22:16947
  • Wentzel A et al. Retinal vasculature reactivity during flicker-light-provocation, cardiac stress and stroke risk in Africans: The SABPA study. Trans Stroke Res 2019;(10):485–494.
  • Wentzel A et al. Heart rate variability, the dynamic nature of the retinal microvasculature and cardiac stress: Providing insight into the brain-retina-heart link: The SABPA study. Eye 2019.
  • Wentzel A et al. Non-invasive type 2 diabetes risk scores do not identify diabetes when the cause is β-cell failure. Frontiers in Public Health 2022: 10:941086.
  • Wentzel A et al. Stress Measurement Toolbox, Physiological Measures. NIH-funded Stress Measurement Network, University of California San Francisco, 2020.

Have you had any significant career mentors? If yes, please provide further details.

Indeed, I am indebted to many individuals across the span of my career:

  • Retired Prof Nico Malan (Postgraduate mentor); Retired Prof Leoné Malan (Postgraduate mentor); Prof Roland von Känel (Postgraduate mentor)
  • Dr Anne Sumner – Post-doctoral host, NIH, USA
  • Prof Wayne Smith – Postgraduate mentor and professional mentor
  • Prof Carina Mels – Scientific mentor and advisor