School of Population Health

Prof Alta Schutte wins prestigious award for work on hypertension

Alta Schutte

Prof Alta Schutte has won the 2022 Harriet Dustan Award presented by the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension. The renowned award and lecture recognise female investigators who have made outstanding contributions in the field of hypertension.

A Professorial Fellow in the Cardiovascular Division at The George Institute, Prof Schutte is Principal Theme Lead of Cardiac, Vascular and Metabolic Medicine at UNSW Medicine & Health.

She was nominated for the award by Prof Rhian Touyz, Editor-in-Chief of the journal Hypertension and Executive Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Canada.

“It’s a huge honour. I’m grateful to be selected among some brilliant women scientists round the world contributing to the important field of hypertension – the leading cause of death worldwide,” Prof Schutte said.

Prof Schutte has established herself as a leading researcher and advocate on reducing blood pressure globally. She has served as President of the International Society of Hypertension and is part of several international partnerships including the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration and Global Burden of Disease study. She also sits on the Steering Committee of the May Measurement Month blood pressure awareness campaign of the International Society of Hypertension.

She has extensive experience in population-based studies with a focus on raised blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and has made significant contributions to raising awareness for global action on raised blood pressure, including publishing over 400 papers and book chapters.

Prof Schutte has played a major role advancing hypertension research in low- and middle-income countries, winning several accolades including the Africa Union Award of Excellence 2019 and the South African Ministerial Award as the Distinguished Senior Woman Scientist.

As invited author of the Lancet Commission on Hypertension in 2016, she played a major role in highlighting Africa’s enormous rise in hypertension coupled with low awareness rates. This informed their key message that “every adult should know their blood pressure”. The Commission’s paper had major impact, with recommendations adopted by policies on four continents, the Copenhagen Consensus and the WHO.

“Recently I recognised that blood pressure control rates in Australia are surprisingly low compared to other countries. This is why I am directing my energy towards establishing a National Hypertension Taskforce, working with the Australian Cardiovascular Alliance and the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia. This Taskforce would convene national expertise from multiple disciplines and sectors to chart a roadmap to improving blood pressure awareness and control in the country,” she says, elaborating on her current work.

Prof Schutte will receive the award at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2022 Scientific Sessions in California in the US in September 2022.

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UNSW School of Population Health