Professor Karen Sliwa, MD, PhD, FESC FACC, DTM&H is a Professor at the Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa (HICRA) at the University of Cape Town. As the Director of HICRA she leads several research groups.
Born in Germany, she is a clinician-scientist, having trained in Germany, Scotland and Israel. In 1992 Karen immigrated to South Africa where she completed her clinical training as a specialist physician, cardiologist and obtained a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 2002 she was awarded a PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand and she contributed to > 250 peer-reviewed articles and trained > 30 postgraduate students so far.
Professor Sliwa is highly experienced in developing, designing and leading cardiovascular disease (CVD) studies in various healthcare environments in Africa. She devised innovative strategies to raise funds through numerous sources at a time when very limited funding was available for non-communicable disease (NCD) research. Her seminal Heart of Soweto Study, reporting on the prevalence, presentation and management of cardiac disease in an urban African population (8000 patients), published in the Lancet in 2008 led to >25 publications describing e.g. the impact of HIV/AIDS on CVD, the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease diagnosed in adulthood, and the spectrum of conditions leading to heart failure amongst others. Under the umbrella of the ‘Heart of Africa Studies’, cardiovascular population studies have been expanded to other African countries by her design and implementation of several innovative research programs and her ability to leverage funding for these projects.
Prof. Karen Sliwa leads a large international registry on peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), funded by the European Cardiac Society (EORP PPCM). She is well known for her research in the area of cardiac disease in the peripartum period which lead to more than 20 publications in that field including the Lancet (2016).
She was elected as President-Elect of the World Heart Federation in 2017 and has commenced office January 2019.