Professor Peter Nilsson

Some words of wisdom for young investigators:  Do not trust your Professors and textbooks too much, but challenge scientific dogma and find new ways in research!

ISH Words of Wisdom

The scientific development in hypertension research is a big tree with many branches. As a young (or old) researcher one can deal with genetic, pathophysiological, epidemiological or treatment aspects. In my professional life I have more recently tried to promote three areas of research that could attract interest also in young researchers, who will probably find new solutions that I did not understand.

The first area is how early life factors (fetal life, birth weight) influence adult health within the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) concept. This is also relevant for hypertension. There is a need of new well-defined cohorts when information is available in the offspring during childhood and young adulthood, but also from mothers and fathers on, for example, hemodynamic patterns, ambulatory blood pressure profile, and glucometabolic control.

The second area is how to better understand vascular ageing and its determinants when much more information is needed from different countries, populations and ethnicities. More recently new interest has focused on the role of chronic inflammation and gut microbiota patterns for influencing Early Vascular Ageing (EVA) and cardiovascular risk, to be more studied.

The third area, and perhaps the most intriguing, is to investigate why some people with a burden of risk factors escape or delay cardiovascular events, for example in type 1 diabetes of long duration but with little or no complications. This is also relevant for people with obesity, but with unexpectedly normal blood pressure profile and cardiac function as well as normoglycaemia. Why is this so, or is it just a matter of follow-up time?

Finally, there is a mystery to solve for scientific detectives. Why does the genetic map of blood pressure regulation and hypertension NOT overlap with the corresponding genetic map of type 2 diabetes, and why are genetic factors related to hypertension NOT associated with renal function or predictive of renal events, even if we know that clinical associations exists?

Welcome to contribute to solve these scientific problems (or find a better problem yourself)! Learn from more experienced researcher but do not trust that they have found all the truth. According to the philosopher of science Karl Popper (1902-1994) all our knowledge is temporary and the task of science and scientists is not to prove our own hypotheses, but to disprove them – in order to find new models and new paths of understanding!

Peter M Nilsson, Professor of Clinical Cardiovascular Research, Lund University, and Senior Consultant at Clinical Research Unit, Dept. Internal Medicine, Skane University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden