Dr Ashleigh Craig


Twitter: @AshCraig_PhD
Linkedin: Ashleigh Craig

  1. Tell us about yourself.

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Unit Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit; (DPHRU) supported by the Department of Science and Innovation/National Research Foundation (DSI/NRF) Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Human Development at the University of the Witwatersrand.

  1. What are your research interests?

My research interests lie within the field of cardiovascular health by exploring cardiovascular disease prevention in Africa, with specific focus on early onset cardiovascular disease in healthy children and young adults. To further extend my curiosity of early onset disease identification, I expanded my research in the field of epidemiology to broaden my research focus with work to includes predictive outcome and occurrence for future events.

  1. What are you working on right now?

Currently I am involved in several research studies that include the identification of blood pressure trajectory throughout the life course and the exploration of associations with cardiovascular health outcomes in adulthood using latent classes; cognitive impairment, central blood pressure and arterial stiffness; child retinal vessel calibre and its relationship to maternal blood pressure; the prevalence of mental health risk and multimorbidity in a national survey follow up and; associations of cardiovascular structure and function with an essential micronutrient with antioxidant properties.

  1. What do you hope to achieve in the field of hypertension over the next 5 years?

My future research plan includes continuing my academic research journey through continual research output. I hope that my research will have high value to society providing important information regarding disease prevalence and associated risk factors (both modifiable and non-modifiable), thus identifying those most susceptible to early onset disease and possibly enhancing public health interventions and preventive strategies.

  1. What challenges have you faced in your career to date?

The greatest challenge to my career is the lack of funding opportunities in South Africa.

  1. Which of your publications are you proudest of and why (please include paper reference)

I have two papers that I am super proud of. The first publication is on the topic early vascular ageing. Identifying individuals at increased risk of early vascular ageing is the first step to inform intervention and prevention strategies and hopefully curb the increasing burden of cardiovascular disease. The second publication highlighted the need for more research to examine if an African-specific clinical practice guideline would better identify high-risk children to minimise their trajectory towards adult hypertension.

Determining underlying mechanisms of early vascular ageing by clustered analysis: The African-PREDICT study. (doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2022.05.042).

Comparisons of paediatric hypertension clinical practice guidelines and their ability to predict adult hypertension in an African birth cohort. (doi: 10.1038/s41371-022-00709-6).

  1. What is your favourite manuscript from a lab other than your own?

Honestly, all articles that identify risk factors or highlight susceptible individuals to early onset disease development are of particular interest to me. An interesting paper I recently read was “Long-Term Blood Pressure Exposure From Childhood and Early Vascular Aging in Midlife: A 30-Year Prospective Cohort Study” (doi: 10.1177/00033197221082712).

  1. What are your passions outside of work?

Outside of work, my hobbies include equestrian sports, morning jogs and the recreational scuba diving adventure with friends and family.