Recognising excellence

Professor of Cardiology John McMurray has been named a Clarivate Analytics Global Highly Cited Researcher for 2018, one of ten Glasgow researchers recognised as being in the top 1% for citations in their academic field.

Tell us a bit about your career this far.

I graduated from Manchester University with BSc (Hons) in 1980 and MBChB (Hons) in 1983. I undertook a period of postgraduate research at the University of Dundee, and was awarded MD in 1990. I then trained in Cardiology and was appointed Consultant Cardiologist in Edinburgh in 1993, before moving to Glasgow in 1995.

I am now Professor of Medical Cardiology and Deputy Director (Clinical) of the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow.

What is the focus of your research, and what inspires you?

My primary research interest is in heart failure, including its relationship with coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, diabetes and chronic kidney disease, with a focus on clinical trials.

What drives you to do this research?

Thirty years ago, patients with heart failure were usually doomed to die after a few agonising years of struggling to do the simplest tasks. Their heart would fail completely as a pump, so vital organs didn’t get enough blood flow or the failing muscle would become electrically unstable and the patient would develop a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

Today people with the condition have dramatically improved prospects, made possible by the discovery of four groups of particularly effective drugs, which clinical researchers in Glasgow have played a key role in testing. We have a fantastic new generation of bright, motivated, enthusiastic young clinical researchers who will strengthen our world-class team.

How do you feel about being featured in the Highly Cited list once again?

I’m obviously pleased that I’ve been included in the list, it recognises Glasgow’s achievements in my area over many, many years because really I’m just one of a number of people who’ve made Glasgow an internationally recognised centre for research in heart failure; its recognition of the status many dedicated colleagues have acquired through huge effort over a couple of decades.

Tell us about the research you have been highly cited for.

I think the papers that we’ve written that have really resulted in these frequent citations are broadly of four types: papers about the nature of heart failure, the burden of the illness; then there are the clinical trials we’ve done, testing new treatments. There are guidelines that I’ve been fortunate to lead the writing of and which have summarised all the evidence to give doctors a framework to treat patients; and lastly papers that really try to understand the mechanisms of the disease, the disease processes.

What keeps you at Glasgow?

The University of Glasgow has been very supportive of research in heart failure over 25 years and it has been enlightened enough to appoint a succession of people interested in this area so that we’ve been able to build on that strength, to reinforce the work others have done. We’ve invested in this area and we’re one of the very few centres in the UK and in Europe to have done that.

The great thing about Glasgow is there’s a very strong link between the health service and the University and the two organisations have ensured we’ve always had a strong cadre of people interested in heart failure working on it clinically, thinking about the research questions and trying to answer those questions. In addition to our great local team we also have strong collaborations with brilliant colleagues around the world. It’s been fantastic working with all of them.

What’s next?

Although things have improved greatly, there is still much to do and there are many exciting new treatments that need to be tested, including devices and surgical intervention. We have a fantastic new generation of bright, motivated, enthusiastic young clinical researchers who will strengthen our world-class team and hopefully ensure another thirty years of improvement for patients with heart failure.