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Meet the expert: Dr Alister McNeish

Dr Alister McNeish explains more about his research in cardiovascular pharmacology in this video from a free online course on Heart Health.
So my name’s Alister McNeish, and I teach cardiovascular pharmacology as part of the Master’s of Pharmacy degree here at the University of Reading. The way that I got into my research is probably quite typical. But also, there’s a little bit of accident involved. So I did a degree in pharmacology and that involved some research training as part of the degree. And I was lucky enough to work in London for the Nobel Prize winner, Sir James Black, and that really sparked an interest. He developed drugs for beta blockers back in the 1950s. So he’s a big name in the field.
Really what drives my passion for cardiovascular sciences - yes, it was sparked by working for Sir James Black in a way. But really at that stage of my career, I was really just interested in how drugs affect the body. It was only really when I started doing cardiovascular research that I realised how many people these diseases affect. And I was really interested in how little we knew about how blood vessels worked. I always assumed it was an area where, perhaps, we were more technologically advanced over, say, neuroscience. And since I was completely wrong, and that thirst for knowledge is a bit of a driver.
In more recent years, I think the passion really comes from being personally affected by these cardiovascular diseases as well. So for example, recently one of my family members was diagnosed with high cholesterol. And I had to have tests for high cholesterol as well. And it turned out we have a family history. And the reason I didn’t know several of my uncles and didn’t know my grandfather was they had basically died from high cholesterol that was not treated properly. It was just something that was never mentioned to me as a child. And also recently, my dad had a heart attack.
And I think those personal things really drive the passion to find out more and perhaps prevent cardiovascular disease and find out more about cardiovascular diseases and see how we can treat them.

Dr Alister McNeish from the University of Reading’s School of Pharmacy discusses how his mentor, Sir James Black, sparked his interest and passion in researching cardiovascular pharmacology, and how important it is to know how conditions have appeared in your family history.

You may like to find out more about Dr Alister McNeish’s research.

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