Imperial College London

Celebrating NHLI's recent academic promotions

by

Portrait photos in collage

14 academics from the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI) have been recognised in the latest round of promotions.

Below find out a little bit more about these academics and their work, which aptly demonstrates the great breadth of research being undertaken at NHLI in heart, lung and vascular science. Outside of their research our academics highlight the importance of their teaching, outreach, charity work and patient interactions. Plus find out which of our recent promoted academics used to be in a jazz band.

Professor Edwin Chilvers, Head of NHLI, commented "The NHLI is very proud of its staff - undoubtedly our greatest asset - and we are delighted with the success of so many of Team NHLI in the College's recent promotions round; whether this be to Professor of Practice, Reader or Professor this is a huge achievement".

Sonya Babu-Narayan, promoted to Reader in Adult Congenital Heart Disease.

Can you give me a research highlight?

As a cardiologist I look after adults born with a heart defect. This specialty is new and exists thanks to the successes of paediatric cardiology and surgery. My research is currently focused towards devising a risk algorithm to help define which adult patient, after repair of tetralogy of Fallot, would have their life saved by an implantable defibrillator and which patient can be reassured for now. This is an important question because defibrillators save lives but may also cause medical and psychological harm.

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

It has always been important to me to share or demystify knowledge, or to advocate for patients. I am able to fulfil this, as well as support and shape cardiovascular research in the UK, in my role as associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

People may not know that I worked as a part-time wedding list consultant for 2 years in an interiors shop with fantastic artists and designers as colleagues who were there part-time to make ends meet. Today, decades later, I still appreciate great design and the beautiful work of craftspeople. 

Find out more about Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan.

Frances Bowen, promoted to Professor of Practice in Respiratory Medicine 

Can you give me a research highlight?

Continuing to ensure all our lung cancer patients have access to clinical and pre-clinical research trials in both new treatments and new imaging modalities.

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy? 

Outreach. My educational work for Alleyn’s school Dulwich where I chair the education committee and am the designated governor for safeguarding.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I still enjoy playing hockey as well as coaching junior hockey every Sunday. My under 14 boys side twice qualified for the Junior European Hockey league finals in the Netherlands!

Find out more about Dr Frances Bowen.

Anand Devaraj, promoted to Professor of Practice in Thoracic Radiology

Can you give me a research highlight? 

My work on pulmonary nodules, evaluating artificial intelligence and visual methods to improve distinguishing benign and malignant lesions. 

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

My role as President of the British Society of Thoracic Imaging, which has allowed me to engage with and develop teaching and networking opportunities for thoracic radiologists in the UK. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

Outside of work I am an avid cricket fan. 

Find out more about Dr Anand Devaraj.

Konstantinos Dimopoulos, promoted to Professor of Practice in Adult Congenital Heart Disease and Pulmonary Hypertension

Can you give me a research highlight? 

I am one of the founding members of the CHAMPION team, an industry supported initiative promoting education and research in the area of pulmonary hypertension (PH) associated with congenital heart disease (CHD) through collaboration between specialist centres around the UK. This work has resulted in a very well-attended educational meeting and several papers.

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

As a cardiologist at the Royal Brompton Hospital, I enjoy caring for patients with complex CHD and teaching students and young doctors on the wards and in the catheter lab. I have also recently been a nucleus member of the European Society of Cardiology working group for PH and the right ventricle.

Tell me a little about yourself.

My favourite hobbies are windsurfing and refurbishing old electric guitars. I also enjoy helping my sons practice Taekwon Do and guitar. My favourite place is the Aegean sea, which I visit every summer. 

Find out more about Dr Konstantinos Dimopoulos.

Sabine Ernst, promoted to Professor of Practice in Cardiology

Can you give me a research highlight?

My main research interest is the use of remote magnetic navigation for complex arrhythmia procedures using advanced 3D imaging techniques. In addition, I investigate the role of the autonomic nervous system for initiating and maintenance of arrhythmias. 

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy? 

I really enjoy teaching and directing a number of courses (Young EP workshop, AF Practical Sessions) and am an active committee member in electrophysiology societies such as PACES, EHRA and ESC.

Tell me a little about yourself. 

I love the British summer with all its' musical offerings like the BBC Proms and the summer operas at Glyndebourne and Garsington.

Find out more about Dr Sabine Ernst.

Jennifer Keegan, promoted to Professor of Practice in Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance

Can you give me a research highlight? 

We have just started a project (funded by the BHF) to improve the image quality of MRI by reducing sensitivity to heart rate variability during the scan. 

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

I enjoy visiting schools to give talks on what I do and to encourage young people (particularly girls) to consider a STEM career – I go to a wide range of schools and am always bowled over by the enthusiasm of the students.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I love to go to live music - from opera at the Coliseum to indie rock at Brixton Academy.

Find out more about Dr Jennifer Keegan.

Birgit Leitinger, promoted to Reader in Matrix Receptor Signalling

Can you give me a research highlight?

I am interested in understanding the molecular mechanism underlying the activation of two highly unusual collagen-activated receptor tyrosine kinases, known as DDRs. The DDRs are involved in a wide range of human diseases for which there are few disease-modifying drugs. Our work has shown that the DDRs do not follow the textbook model of ligand-induced dimerization but instead form clusters of dimers. This opens up the possibility for developing new drugs that can prevent the DDRs from forming clusters.  

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

I have been teaching on the new BSc in Medical Biosciences since it was launched two years ago. It’s been an absolute pleasure to see how enthusiastic and engaged the students are on this course. Additionally, I am Head of Assessment and Feedback for the entire BSc programme and make sure all assessments are reliable and valid. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

I love the fact that London is one of the most exciting places for Arts and Culture. I am also a keen reader of novels; I am currently reading GRM by Sibylle Berg (in German, not yet translated into English), a dystopia set in post-Brexit Britain. It’s actually quite bleak and full of despair but also contains some humour. Apparently a big hit in Germany! 

Find out more about Dr Birgit Leitinger.

William Man, promoted to Reader in Respiratory Medicine

Can you give me a research highlight?

One of the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan is to increase the number of people with long term lung conditions accessing pulmonary rehabilitation, however only a small fraction of people with lung conditions access pulmonary rehabilitation. We are currently conducting several randomised controlled trials funded by the NIHR and British Lung Foundation to address this issue. 

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

As an NHS consultant patient interaction remains the most enjoyable part of the job, and really helps inform my research. My research has always been patient-oriented and focused on addressing day-to-day problems facing my patients.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I devour crime fiction, and my retirement ambition is to be published as a fiction writer. Perhaps more people will read my fiction work than my scientific papers!

Find out more about Dr William Man.

Sanjay Prasad, promoted to Professor of Cardiomyopathy 

Can you give me a research highlight?

Heart failure affects millions of patients worldwide. We are looking at predictors of recovery with a particular focus on advanced imaging and genetic determinants. Our aim is also to identify early markers of risk so that we can attenuate disease progression.

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

Seeing patients with cardiomyopathy.

Tell me a little about yourself. 

I used to play in a jazz band. 

Find out more about Professor Sanjay Prasad.

Prakash Punjabi, promoted to Professor of Practice in Cardiothoracic Surgery 

Can you give me a research highlight? 

My major interest is in mitral regurgitation and regenerative therapies in heart failure including exosomes. 

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy? 

The guideline committee of the European Society of Cardiology, and taking a team to perform charitable operations in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Egypt, India and other countries. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

I have just completed a BHF Richmond Runfest 10K in 63m21s, also, I am a big fan of books, my favourite book is "SAPIENS" by Yuval Noah Harari. I highly recommend everyone to give it a read.

Find out more about Mr Prakash Punjabi

Stuart Rosen, promoted to Professor of Practice in Cardiology 

Can you give me a research highlight?

I am a general adult cardiologist, but have a particular interest in treatments for other illnesses which can cause side effects to the heart. I was involved in setting up the UK's first cardio-oncology service at the Royal Brompton Hospital, to help patients with cancer to have their hearts protected against the effects of cancer treatment. I have more recently assembled a team at Ealing Hospital where we have a shared interest in the effects of psychiatric drugs and disorders on the heart. 

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

I have the good fortune to do a varied job, that encompasses clinical aspects, teaching, training and research. Recently I have moved towards a greater emphasis on teaching and the development of novel methods of teaching, especially virtual clinical cases. There is a unique pleasure in teaching keen students and seeing them grow into gifted, skilled and independent doctors, starting to make their own way in the profession. It gives me huge satisfaction that some have been drawn to my own specialty of cardiology. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

I have a strong interest in history, ranging from general world history to a particular enthusiasm for the history of medicine. It has often been stated that the lesson of history is that Man doesn't learn from history, but even brief time spent reflecting on and delving into the efforts of previous generations to understand the general, political or even clinical problems that we face, can be fascinating and rewarding.

Find out more about Dr Stuart Rosen

Mohamed Shamji, promoted to Reader in Immunology & Allergy 

Can you give me a research highlight? 

I have identified the novel mechanisms involved in the desensitisation and long-term clinical benefit during subcutaneous and sublingual grass pollen immunotherapy. My research has led to a promising and novel immunotherapy approach that requires only four pre-seasonal visits to the specialist clinic over only three weeks.

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

I thoroughly enjoy teaching as it allows me to integrate my research which I am very passionate about into education.

Tell me a little about yourself.

I enjoy playing golf and most of my creative thinking comes when I am on the green.

Find out more on Dr Mohamed Shamji.

Beata Wojciak-Stothard, promoted to Reader in Vascular Biology 

Can you give me a research highlight? 

My team and I are currently developing a microfluidic model of the human blood vessel that may help develop personalised treatment and replace animal experimentation. 

What aspect of your work outside of research do you particularly enjoy?

I enjoy teaching and mentoring students, learning about their ambitions and helping them achieve their goals. 

Tell me a little about yourself.

Recently I have enjoyed reading “The Patterning Instinct” by Jeremy Lent and books by Yuval Noah Harrari. I love Bill Bailey’s humour and sitting in cafes in my home city of Krakow, watching the world go by. 

Find out more about Dr Beata Wojciak – Stothard.

Duncan Macrae, promoted to Professor of Practice in Paediatric Intensive Care Medicine

Dr Duncan Macrae was unavailable for interview as he is currently on sabbatical leave. He is a consultant in paediatric intensive care based at Royal Brompton Hospital, based in the Vascular Science Section with NHLI. 

Find out more about Dr Duncan Macrae.

staff
Our academics celebrated their recent promotions with Professor Edwin Chilvers

Reporter

Ms Helen Johnson

Ms Helen Johnson
National Heart & Lung Institute

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6843
Email: helen.johnson@imperial.ac.uk

Show all stories by this author