05 March 2019

Francois Potus becomes the first recipient of the Rupert Swift Award

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The Rupert Swift Award

Paul Corris introduced the inaugural Rupert Swift lecture by paying tribute to Rupert and by explaining the background of the award.

Rupert Swift had first become known to Professor Corris as a student in Newcastle in his early 20's, following an expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  He had developed high altitude pulmonary oedema and 3 months later, was diagnosed with functional class 3 pulmonary hypertension. Professor Corris characterised Rupert as a brave, bold, clever, charismatic young man who embraced life to the full. He was physically very active, rowing, playing rugby and enjoying other sports. He was a bon viveur, known for his penchant for Hermes red ties who cut a dash in his London working environment. He never allowed his illness to define him and was cheerful and stoical right up to his untimely death at The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, surrounded by his family and friends.

Through the tremendous generosity of friends, colleagues and family, £50,000 has been raised in his memory to support the work of the PVRI.

The Rupert Swift Award will be presented on an annual basis to a person of excellence at an intermediate stage of their career, as either a clinician or research scientist. This will enable them to present their work at the PVRI Annual World Congress, to both recognise their achievements and to enhance the meeting.

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Rupert Swift: 30 May 1986 – 1 October 2018

A Personal Tribute to Rupert Swift

"We are very moved by the generosity of all who have given donations in Rupert’s memory.  It is a measure of the high esteem and love felt by all who knew him.  Rupert, with his positive attitude, the way he lived life to the full and his ever-present beaming smile, was truly inspirational.  He even managed to keep smiling and to make jokes during his final hours, when he knew that he was dying. Thanks to your contributions, the PVRI has been able to create the annual Rupert Swift Award, which means that Rupert leaves a lasting legacy and will not be forgotten.  Professor Sheila Glennis Haworth, a former president of the PVRI, wrote to tell us that when Edward presented the award in Barcelona, Rupert seemed to be in the room with them all. We would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for your support."

Lynette & Stephen Swift

First Recipient of the Rupert Swift Award: Francois Potus

Dr. François Potus is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Medicine at Queen's University (Kingston, ON, Canada) in Dr. Stephen Archer’s lab. He obtained a Master’s Degree with distinction in Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, in France, and completed his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Laval University in Québec, Canada in the “The Pulmonary Hypertension Research Group” led by Drs. Sebastien Bonnet and Steeve Provencher. Dr. Potus is a Physiologist and Molecular Biologist with expertise in cardiovascular research and genetics/epigenetics.

His main work currently focuses on the epigenetic regulation of gene expression in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). More specifically, he is interested in exploring the role that DNA methylation plays in pathological regulation of gene expression in pulmonary arterial hypertension. He is currently investigating the role of two critical regulators of this epigenetic mechanism—called ten-eleven-translocase (TET2) and DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A)—in the development of PAH. During is postdoctoral fellow he had the opportunity to be part of a team working on the discovery of new PAH genes led by Dr. Archer which includes members from Columbia University and the University of Cincinnati and Johns Hopkins medical school, as well as Dr. Rauh form Queen’s University. Using human blood samples, they have identified a depletion of both TET and DNMT3A in PAH. He is now investigating the mechanisms connecting TET2/DNMT3A to the PAH  phenotype (inflammation, mitochondrial and metabolic dysfunction) and how pathologic epigenetic regulation of gene expression could be a target for future therapies.

Francois is delighted to be the recipient of the inaugural Rupert Swift Award. Please follow the link below to watch his lecture, 'Methylation and miRNAs in Right Ventricular Failure' which contains an opening tribute to Rupert Swift by Paul Corris.

Rupert Swift Lecture at the PVRI Annual World Congress in Barcelona 2019


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