Caption: Professor William Wijns, Pictured right, of NUI Galway receives his Gold Medal Award from Professor Jeroen Bax, President of the European Society of Cardiology in Barcelona. Photo: European Society of Cardiology


Professor William Wijns of NUI Galway has been honoured with a Gold Medal Award from the European Society of Cardiology in Barcelona.

The award is in recognition for his outstanding achievements and international reputation as a leading cardiologist.

A Professor in Interventional Cardiology at the Lambe Institute for Translational Research in NUI Galway, his research focuses on preventing heart attacks and sudden death caused by unexpected blockage of arteries supplying the heart with blood and oxygen.

This occurs in people exposed to risk factors such as family history, hypertension, smoking, diabetes or high cholesterol, who exhibit a vulnerable narrowing in the walls of their arteries, without being aware of it.

Commenting on receiving his award, Professor William Wijns said: “I am extremely honoured to be awarded this prestigious award from the European Society of Cardiology, especially at the moment as the interventional community is celebrating 40 years of coronary dilatation and 15 years of percutaneous aortic valve replacement.

“I am also very thankful to Science Foundation Ireland for enabling me to continue my scientific journey by contributing to the development and evaluation of new device-based therapies, in the stimulating environment of NUI Galway’s Lambe Institute for Translational Medicine and CÚRAM, right at the centre of the Irish innovation-friendly ecosystem.”

He joined NUI Galway last October as part of a Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme, which supports national strategic priorities by recruiting world-leading research and leadership talent to Ireland.

Heart attack triggers

Professor Wijns is currently spearheading a €5 million research project that uses wearable or implantable sensors to alert patients at high risk of heart attacks to triggers such as stress or high blood pressure.

Pilot patient clinical trials are currently underway at the Cardiology Department at Saolta University Healthcare group, where Professor Wijns will collaborate with other clinicians engaged in translational cardiovascular research.

Trigger mechanisms like anger, mental stress, high blood pressure, strenuous exercise and sleep disorders cause the narrowing to rupture inside the conduit, obstructing the artery.

Professor Wijns work will look at developing medical devices that can monitor these ‘trigger’ activities electronically, at a distance, using sensors in high-risk subjects who are known to carry this vulnerable narrowing of the artery, and in doing so, anticipate and potentially prevent heart attacks.