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Director

Prof Karen Sliwa-Hahnle

021-4066457 | karen.sliwa-hahnle@uct.ac.za

Prof. Karen Sliwa, MD, PhD, FESC, FACC, FAHA, DTM & H- is the Director of the Cape Heart Institute ( renamed in 2020 from Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa), University of Cape Town, South Africa. The Cape Heart Institute has currently 12 working groups and more than 100 staff and post-graduate students.

Cardiovascular disease in pregnancy and postpartum is one of her main areas of clinical and pathophysiological research. Recent progress in understanding underlying pathophysiology of Peripartum Cardiomyopathy (PPCM), enabled by novel experimental approaches interlinked with unique international efforts has led to great progress in awareness and management of the disease.  Based on her research a novel therapeutic option has become available for patients with PPCM. In order to coordinate efforts even better, a Study Group, ‘Peripartum Cardiomyopathy’, of the Heart Failure Association of the European Cardiac Society, chaired by her and others was formed in 2009. That has led to a large and ongoing global cohort study under the EuroObservational Programe on Peripartum Cardiomyopathy.

She established a population study in Africa called the ‘Heart of Soweto Study’ to investigate the prevalence, presentation and management of cardiac disease in an urban African population. This study, on more than 8000 patients, highlighted the high prevalence of hypertension, obesity and cardiac disease in women of childbearing age. She has expanded her population studies ( under the umbrella of the ‘Heart of Africa studies’) to other African countries, including Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and Sudan. She has designed several innovative research programs and leveraged funding for those major research projects, not only in South Africa and the rest of Africa, but also internationally. She is one of the principal investigators of the World Heart Federation COVID-Cardiovascular Disease study (commenced 2020). She has supervised more than 30 post-graduate students, published more than 350 articles and her work is highly cited.

In recognition of her work Prof Sliwa has received several awards, including the South Africa/Germany Year of Science Celebrations Award (2012), German Cardiac Society Paul Morawitz Award for Exceptional Cardiovascular Research (2013) and the Cardiac Disease in Pregnancy award (2014). In 2017 Prof. Sliwa was awarded an Honorary Doctorate University Diderot-Sorbonne, Paris, France.  This is the Highest Distinction of French Universities as a recognition towards Research and Global Engagement which is awarded by the French University Research Board and approved by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 2019 Prof. Sliwa received the European Society of Cardiology award for population studies (Geoffrey Rose award) and in 2021 the Medical Research Council South Africa Gold Medal.

Karen Sliwa serves on a number of editorial boards and is also an editorial consultant to ‘The Lancet’. Furthermore, she is former president of the South African Heart Association and on the board of the South African Heart Failure Society (http://www.hefssa.org), which was established under her leadership in 2005. She is was the president of the World Heart Federation (2019-2020) and is currently Vice-president Southern Region and board member of the Pan African Society of Cardiology.  She has been the Faculty of Health Science Deputy Dean for Research from 1 March 2017-30 April 2018.

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