Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2021

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Sir Nilesh Samani


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Sir Nilesh Samani is entrusted with shaping the direction of research into heart and circulatory diseases in the UK and beyond.

As medical director of the British Heart Foundation (BHF), a role he serves from 2016, he is responsible for overseeing research funding and medical activities of the leading charity which funds over £100 million of new studies each year.

As people with cardiovascular diseases have been found to be disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, his mission at the BHF has assumed greater urgency.

Sir Nilesh played a major role in ensuring coordination and providing leadership by bringing together research leaders through the BHF’s existing partnership with the National Institute for Health Research. This has led to the selection of seven flagship projects that probe critical questions on Covid-19, as well as heart and circulatory health.

Sir Nilesh says the speed at which they have done this is testament to the strength of the UK cardiovascular science, but equally important are the experienced hands of his.

He actively pursues many daunting professional responsibilities, in addition to his highprofile role at the BHF. He serves as a professor of Cardiology at the University of Leicester, leading his own team’s research, and as an honorary consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in the city.

All these commitments make the 64-year-old’s schedule hectic, but he thinks all of them as complementary to each other.

“Patients are at the heart of everything we should be doing. The questions I want to answer in the lab are often informed by what I have seen in the ward,” he observes.

Sir Nilesh, who was knighted in 2015 for his services to medicine and medical research, has a distinguished career under his belt. His research has focused on the role genes play in heart disease. He has

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