Professor Collins has led research into the use of statins to protect against heart attacks and strokes for many years, and his groundbreaking work helps to save many thousands of lives every year. Most recently he has led the establishment of the UK Biobank study of 500,000 men and women which aims to help researchers to understand better the causes of heart disease and many other fatal and disabling diseases of middle and older age.
The European Society of Cardiology represents more than 80,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean, and its annual meeting is the world’s largest international congress in cardiovascular medicine. The Gold Medal is its highest award, recognising exceptional clinicians and scientists for their contributions to cardiology.
Professor Collins said: 'For someone working in the field of cardiology, this is the ultimate recognition.' In accepting the award, Professor Collins acknowledged the BHF’s support throughout his career, saying that it had been critical to his development as a scientist.
Rachel Davis, the BHF Fundraising and Volunteer Manager for the region, said the recognition would spur on fundraisers across the county: 'Thousands of people in Oxfordshire lose someone to a heart attack or a stroke each year, but it’s thanks to the work of researchers at Oxford, like BHF Professor Sir Rory Collins, that those numbers are not even higher.
'This prestigious award recognises the life-saving contributions Professor Collins has made for people with cardiovascular disease, and all our supporters and volunteers should be tremendously proud of how their generosity has made his research possible.'
It is now more than a decade since the first results of the MRC/BHF Heart Protection Study were published in The Lancet. It showed that the risk of heart attacks and strokes could be reduced with statins even in patients with cholesterol levels in the ‘normal’ range. The finding was later confirmed by an international collaboration analysing the results from all the major statin trials.
'The Heart Protection Study helped revolutionise the way in which the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs are used, demonstrating their benefits for many more people than had previously been offered them,' said Professor Collins.
Professor Peter Weissberg, Medical Director at the BHF, said: 'Thanks to the generous support of our donors and volunteers, we have been able to support BHF Professor Collins’ research for over thirty years. As co-director of the Clinical Trial Service Unit at Oxford, he has been responsible for some of the most influential clinical trials in cardiovascular medicine and has shaped the way patients with heart disease are treated. This award is well-deserved recognition for his important achievements.' The CTSU is jointly funded by the British Heart Foundation, Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.