Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Henry Krum, 1958-2015

Professor Henry Krum was a valued friend, colleague, physician and supervisor at SPHPM, and one of the finest cardiovascular researchers and specialists in heart failure management in the world. 

He was profiled in The Lancet last year and credited with putting Australia on the map with respect to clinical trials in cardiovascular disease, particularly in chronic heart disease. He also made the 2015 Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher list, this recognition ranking him as one of the world’s most influential scientific minds, and in the top one per cent most cited in his subject field this year.

He accomplished outstanding achievements in the field of cardiovascular disease and has served as a role model through service, research and teaching. 

Henry completed his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery Degree at the University of Melbourne in 1981, became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1989 and completed a PhD in the Clinical Pharmacology Unit at the Austin Hospital Clinical School in 1991. He also undertook a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Columbia University in America, before taking a joint position at the University of Melbourne and the Austin Hospital.

He joined Monash University in 1996 and was appointed Head of the Clinical Pharmacology Unit in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and Head of the Clinical Pharmacology Department at the Alfred Hospital. In 1997 he was promoted to Associate Professor and became a full Professor in 2003. Henry was also a dedicated supervisor of Honours and PhD students, and undertook the supervision of 24 PhD and 12 Honours students during his time at the University. He currently ranks first for the most citations and third for the highest number of publications from all Monash University researchers, in the 2010-2014 period. Over his career he published over 500 journal articles, 4 books and 22 book chapters.

Henry was internationally noted for his leadership in novel cardiovascular drug treatments and recently secured two highly competitive National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants in the 2015 funding round to develop a monitoring device for heart failure and another to research innovative prevention and treatment approaches for chronic heart disease.

He was a member of the Executive Committee that established the value of beta-blockers in severe heart failure.  He was first author of a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association that described for the first time, the finding that beta-blockers may produce an early beneficial effect on clinical outcomes rather than the previous paradigm that patients need to wait many months before observing any clear benefit from these therapies. 

Henry was also involved in a number of further definitive studies of beta-blockade which have become a cornerstone of heart failure management and his leadership in the development of guidelines had a major influence on the field. It is estimated that Henry conducted approximately 150 individual clinical trials over his career.

The ATMOSPHERE trial is a recent project that Henry was very proud of. This large international study recruited 7010 patients, and looked at renin inhibitors and aliskiren in patients with systolic heart failure.  Henry was the Chair of the Executive Committee and the Global Principal Investigator.

In 2002 he received a NHMRC Centre of Clinical Research Excellence grant which established the Centre of Cardiovascular Research and Education (CCRE) in Therapeutics which has employed approximately 60 staff, students and visiting academics, and of which he was the Director.    

A significant career moment was his involvement in the landmark Symplicity HTN-1 study that was recently published in The Lancet. Symplicity HTN-1 was the first proof of principle demonstration of the beneficial blood pressure-lowering effect of a new technique called percutaneous renal sympathetic denervation (RDN), a minimally invasive approach to damage the nerves that surround the main arteries to the kidneys which provide signals to the kidneys (and brain) to drive up blood pressure. He discovered that positive changes in blood pressure after RDN persist long term in patients with treatment-resistant hypertension, with good safety.

He was actively involved in Symplicity HTN-2, and more recently was the Global Principal Investigator of a study in cardiorenal patients (Symplicity-HF) being conducted in Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East as well as Australia.

Henry was the recipient of countless awards and accolades as he became an eminent presence within his field, all the while highly respected by his peers, colleagues and students. Some of his esteemed awards include:
•National Heart Foundation’s Victorian President’s contribution to research award October 2015
•NHMRC awards for one of “Ten of the best” research projects in 2011
•NHMRC Achievement Award, Highest ranked Practitioner Fellow 2011 (Ironically Henry had to be persuaded to apply for this fellowship)
•Delivered the 2011 Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand Gaston Bauer Lecture
•Henry Christian Award, American Federation of Clinical Research. 

He also sat on many international steering committees and was a principal investigator on a number of international collaborative studies and was one of the leading heart failure researchers in the world. He undertook the roles of editor, associate editor and/or on the editorial board of many international journals.

Henry is survived by his wife Lauren, children Joshua and Emily, his sister Sharon and extended family.  He was the son of Polish refugees who settled in Australia after the Second World War.  He grew up in Brighton, attended Mount Scopus College and at one time briefly considered a career as a journalist, before his mother persuaded him to pursue his interest in medicine.   A decision he later described as one of his best as he loved his profession.  He was described as a “news junkie” and always had to have the very latest technological gadgets.  He was fond of good coffee and acquired a large collection of vinyl jazz records.

Vale Henry, from all of us at SPHPM. In your short life you made an irrefutable and profound impact on medicine and the lives of others. You, your mind and your dedication will be missed.

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