Garret FitzGerald’s research in cardiovascular medicine has transformed the use of a common class of painkiller for patients at risk of heart disease. He established that low doses of aspirin could prevent heart attacks and stroke, whilst other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been withdrawn after he warned that they could increase the risk in some patients.
Garret aims to predict the benefits and risks of these painkillers for patients with different clinical profiles by understanding the mechanism of their action. NSAIDs down-regulate the production of signalling molecules derived from fatty acids, and he is exploring the role of these molecules in inflammatory and other pathways.
He also investigates the influence of molecular ‘clocks’, which he was the first to discover in the cardiovascular system, on metabolism and ageing. Garret was awarded the 2013 Grand Prix Scientifique of the Lefoulon-Delalande Foundation, considered to be the highest honour in his field.