Dr Yan Li

Position:  Professor of cardiovascular medicine

Affiliation:  Shanghai Institute of Hypertension, Ruijin Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine

What is your role at your work?
I am a researcher focusing on hypertension and arterial stiffness. I am leading a team doing epidemiological population studies and clinical trials on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of hypertension.

How did you get interested in your career path?
When I was a resident physician in the cardiology department, I got to know that hypertension is prevalent in populations and is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular health. I got interested in this disease, did some research on hypertension when pursuing Master and PhD, and continue to be at this path until now.

What are you most proud of in your career or otherwise?
In my almost 20 years of research, I am proud of:
□ The Chinese Jingning Population Study has contributed to scientific research on hypertension by identifying isolated nocturnal hypertension, proposing ambulatory arterial stiffness index, addressing the importance of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring and arterial assessment, etc.
□ A web-based ABPM and HBPM reporting system and a multicentre research system have been established and used in daily clinical and research practice and commercially available.

What important career challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?
What I always feel challenging is to balance the time on research and family. It has to be a dynamic balance. Sometimes I have to compromise. Prepare a to-do list and check every day might improve work efficiency.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Do not wait, just start doing. Done is better than perfect.

Highlight your most significant research contributions and publications (3-5) – if relevant to you.
1. Ambulatory arterial stiffness index derived from 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. Hypertension. 2006;47:359-364.
2. Is isolated nocturnal hypertension a novel clinical entity? Hypertension. 2007;50:333-339.
3. Prognostic accuracy of day versus night ambulatory blood pressure: a cohort study. Lancet. 2007;370:1219-1229.
4. Ambulatory hypertension subtypes and 24-hour systolic and diastolic blood pressure as distinct outcome predictors in 8341 untreated people recruited from 12 populations. Circulation. 2014;130:466-474.
5. Treatment of masked hypertension with a Chinese herbal formula: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Circulation. 2020;142:1821-1830.

Have you had any significant career mentors? If yes, please provide further details.
I will not grow as a researcher if without the guidance of Prof. Dingliang Zhu and Prof. Jan A. Staessen. Prof. Zhu is my PhD mentor at the Shanghai Institute of Hypertension. He provided me with the first opportunity to do population research on hypertension, and to be further trained at Leuven University, Belgium. Since 2003, starting from the most initial phase of my career, Prof. Staessen gave me continuous guidance and great support encouraging me to make a difference in the field.

How can we support the next generation of women scientists?
I would share my experience of success and failure with younger women scientists and help to write papers and get funding. It is also very important to support them to attend meetings and have international communications.