Researcher, Vascular Overviews Group
Heather studied Physics and Biology at King’s College, London (1979-81). She came to work as a Research Scientist at Oxford University and between 1982 and 1993 she worked on the International Study of Infarct Survival (ISIS) series of clinical trials looking at treatments for suspected heart attack. These were some of the first very large, simple, randomised ‘mega-trials’ (ISIS-1 to ISIS-4, randomising 140,000 patients) the results of which substantially improved the emergency treatment of heart attacks.
Since 1994 her research focus has been ‘meta-analyses’ of randomised trials to determine the effects of treatments for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. These meta-analyses combine all the trials that have addressed the same treatment question and the results provide reliable evidence on their effects. Her role has been to perform systematic searches for these trials, to procure the trial data and to develop and maintain the associated data management systems. The results of these collaborative meta-analyses have helped determine many important treatment effects including those of antiplatelets (particularly aspirin), statins and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Regular updates of these meta-analyses and new collaborations ensure the research continues to be relevant to patient care and evidence guidelines. It is these influences which has been the inspiration and drive for her work in medical research.