Thomas Wilson Meade
1997 Balzan Prize for Epidemiology
Professor Meade’s contribution to scientific and medical knowledge, and to health care specifically, spans three decades. He has pioneered the field of cardiovascular epidemiology, and is distinguished for the development and application of Laboratory techniques in epidemiological, as well as clinical, investigations of cardiovascular disease. His interests, together with the research which he has led, have extended from basic biological studies of the aetiology, risks and mechanisms of cardiovascular disease (the most common cause of mortality in developed countries) to epidemiological investigations and intervention trials. He has devised and co-ordinated research which has been of paramount importance to our understanding of thrombogenic haemostasis through the definition of coagulation factors, e.g. factor VII (now shown to be a major mediator in thrombogenesis), and the metabolic, genetic, lifestyle, demographic and other factors that correlate with their levels of activity.
Professor Meade is an international leader in the research on fibrinogen and its role in thrombogenesis, having established highly significant associations between fibrinogen levels and the incidence of cardiovascular disease. His work has demonstrated that an important adverse effect of tobacco smoking on cardiovascular disease risk is mediated through fibrinogen, thereby revealing the potential role of fibrinogen-lowering drugs in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Demonstrating the involvement of the clotting system has mode a major contribution to the understanding of the pathogenesis of arterial disease.
Numerous clinical trials of antithrombotic measures, modifying platelet function, fibrinogen levels and the level of coagulability, e.g. the role of aspirin, warfarin and hormone replacement, are now consequently in progress or, in some cases, have been completed, and their results taken up into clinical practice.
Clinical trials under Professor Meade’s direction have also shown the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of hypertension treatment in elderly people, as well as in their younger counterparts with mild hypertension, they generally forming a major proportion of hypertensive.
Professor Meade’s work has added a new dimension to cardiovascular epidemiology, which has brought about an important contribution to human health.