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Christopher Spry

University of London, St. George's Hospital Medical School

The Chair of Cardiovascular Immunology

Held by: Prof. Christopher J.F. Spry MA DPhil FRCP FRCPath FESC

We are a small research Group which is responsible for studying the causes and developing the best treatment for a rare but important group of diseases called the restrictive cardiomyopathies. We began the work in 1985 and since then have examined and treated many patients, the majority of whom also have a blood disease. In them, this blood disease is the cause of their heart disease. Effective treatment of the blood diseases is the best way to prevent the development of, and the progression of their heart disease. Our research work has naturally centred on the causes of the blood disease and the ways that heart damage is produced. This year we published the results of several years work in which we showed (a) that the blood disease is of two types which we can now distinguish with sophisticated laboratory tests and (b) that the way that the heart damage is produced depends on the control of two or more genes in the blood cells. We have not only defined these two genes in detail but also showed how they are switched on and off inside the blood cells that cause the heart disease. Although this is a complex area, our work has reached the stage when other groups and Clinicians are able to study and treat these patients effectively. We still provide a centralised clinical service for these patients but are gratified that more patients are being well cared for here and abroad on the background of the work done in this B.H.F. Research Group.

This year we continued to develop one new area of increasing importance to all Scientists and Doctors: information technology. It has been a hectic year of developments and improvements in networked computing. Everyone now has heard of Internet, the electronic network in which people exchange information. We have taken an active role in developing this for use in Cardiology. We installed two excellent computers to provide academic and clinical resources to our colleagues here and abroad, and these will become increasingly important as time goes by. As these developments have been so rapid, it was often difficult to make it all work properly, but we are now very experienced in this field and our expertise has been of use to our Medical School which is developing many of the resources that we put in place earlier this year.

Finally, but not least, we are always very grateful to the many people who have enabled us to work in these difficult but exciting fields and it is a great pleasure to acknowledge all of them here once again.

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