Ryozo Nagai, the distinguished Japanese researcher, is proud to be the first cardiologist from Asia to be awarded the ESC gold medal. “The honour is especially significant because it’s the first recognition I’ve received from the international scientific community,” he says.

Until 2012 Nagai spent his entire career (apart from a stint at the University of Vermont 1983-87) at the prestigious University of Tokyo. After taking his MD there in 1974, he eventually became chairman of the department of CV medicine, director of translational research and president of the University Hospital.

Nagai has always combined basic research with clinical medicine. “You can only really find the research questions that need addressing through seeing patients,” he says. Nagai’s stature in Japan becomes apparent when you learn that he was the cardiologist to advise Emperor Akihito to have CABG surgery earlier this year.