Professor Godfrey Smith joins the IEMR team

Collaboration is key. That is why Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology, Godfrey Smith, joins forces with the research team at the Institute for Experimental Medical Research (IEMR) in Oslo. 

Text: Marianne Alfsen/Felix Media
Photo: Fredrik Naumann/Felix Features

“We are extremely happy to welcome Professor Godfrey Smith to our team,” says Mathis Korseberg Stokke, Professor and Head of Department at IEMR. 

Godfrey Smith is Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology and Director of Innovation, Engagement and Enterprise at the University of Glasgow. In the coming years, he will visit Oslo regularly, complementing the expertise at IEMR and providing a bridge to his team in Glasgow. 

“We have collaborated on projects before, but having him and his unique competence as a permanent part of our team will be a boost to our scientific standards and the quality of our work,” says Stokke.

Smith is equally full of praise for the IEMR team:
“The cardiovascular science that’s carried out in this institution is world renown,” he says. 

Godfrey Smith is one of the leading experts in the field of cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmology. This is a field where development of new drugs has stalled. Smith and Stokke firmly believe that progress must come from mechanistic understanding and translational research – the type of research IEMR is renowned for.

An opportunity

“The work that they’re doing here at IEMR on electrophysiology and cardiac function is very interesting to me. When examining one of this department’s PhDs, I discovered a lot of common thinking,” says Smith, adding that his team in Glasgow have also developed techniques and algorithms that can be of great use to IEMR.

“So, when Mathis offered the opportunity, I was grateful. This is an opportunity for me to represent my own research interests, and those of the Glasgow cardiovascular unit. However, the really exciting part is that you get a significant amount of synergy and benefits by bringing together the areas of expertise we have in Glasgow with those here in Oslo,” says Smith.

Mutual benefit

The Glasgow team has, for instance, developed optical techniques for looking at the electrical, mechanical and metabolic status of the heart.

“What I can bring to the table is our experience over the years with these techniques and help implement them in Oslo,” explains Smith.

“Equally, here at the IEMR, we have expertise in research on larger mammals that can be beneficial to the Glasgow team,” says Stokke.

The Core Facility for Large Animal Research at IEMR offers state-of-the art equipment, facilities and know-how.

“We provide fully equipped operating theatres, and offer expertise and assistance in planning and conducting surgical procedures in large animals,” explains Stokke.

Important opportunity

Across Europe, there are few research units that combine expertise in large animal cardiac procedures with world-class experimental cardiology.

“It is extremely important to us to be able to use knowledge gained on smaller mammals and test whether it can be extended to these larger mammals, which are much closer to humans,” explains Smith, adding that size matters when it comes to studying the performance of the heart.

“It is an issue of scale, which is particularly true for electrical disturbances. They are hard to mimic in smaller animals. So, in order to bring our ideas to translation into the human clinical situation, we have an absolute necessity to test them on larger mammals.”  

The work that they’re doing here at IEMR on electrophysiology and cardiac function is very interesting to me. When examining one of this department’s PhDs, I discovered a lot of common thinking
Professor Godfrey Smith

Pushing boundaries

Stokke and Smith are of one mind when it comes to the ambition for the collaboration: “We want to push cardiology forward in terms of knowledge about disease as well as treatment,” says Stokke.

“In this research environment, I believe the translation of our research to clinical relevance can be much faster. It is a fantastic opportunity to link the science and our team in Glasgow with the science and Mathis’ team in Oslo,” adds Smith.

The Glasgow-based Professor will be working with all researchers at IEMR, and arranging for his colleagues in Scotland to come over on visits to exchange their expertise and knowledge with the IEMR team in Oslo.