Thinking outside the box

Professor Naveed Sattar is one of the world’s top metabolic medicine / diabetes experts. Based in the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences he is 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 in medicine from the University of Glasgow in 1990 and worked briefly in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary before moving back to work in hospitals in Glasgow. In 1999 I was inspired to move into academia and became a clinical academic, and in 2005 I became Professor of Metabolic Medicine.

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

I like to think outside the box, I try to define important questions or, where necessary, challenge existing dogma. My areas of research mainly focus on better understanding the causes, consequences and prevention of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, so topical areas for the community. However, it is in diabetes where I am best known; my work in this area has been recognised through multiple awards, plenary lectures and it has directly contributed to clinical guidelines.

I love collaborating with colleagues in the diabetes community around the world, especially where we have access to world-leading data to help address the big issues of our time. To this end, we have been able to help define important questions and, as examples, we have answered to what extent diabetes influences life expectancy, heart disease risks, as well as the changes in complication rates over time. Much of this work has been used widely by many other researchers and some has helped shape clinical guidelines, so our work has been clinically impactful.

What drives you to do this research?

Like others, I want to answer important clinical questions that have the chance to help improve care or the quality of people’s lives.

I also very much enjoy seeing younger academics develop as they work with us.

I love collaborating with colleagues in the diabetes community around the world, especially where we have access to world-leading data to help address the big issues of our time.

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

Privileged. It is not why we do the work but if you are tackling important questions, and designing studies and trials to answer them best, then more citations and meaningful impact should follow.

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

Actually, my citations come from many different types of papers so big epidemiology, trials, guidelines and even genetics, as well as different medical fields, with a core around diabetes, obesity and heart risk factors. This breadth of experience helps me help others place results into proper clinical context.

I have also helped define novel risk factors for diabetes including work on liver fat, statins, and new insights into gender and ethnic-associated diabetes risks. Again, some of these findings have helped shape guidelines or stimulated trials.

Finally, I interact with many other disciplines/colleagues, perhaps most notably with Professor Iain McInnes where our research has helped define heart disease guidelines for patients with autoimmune disease, and with Professor John McMurray and team with novel work in the diabetes-heart failure space.

What keeps you at Glasgow?

The great weather! No seriously, I love the people and their humility.

What’s next?

To work more on improving obesity prevention and management, since this is one of the biggest issues facing society.