Papworth Heroes

Tim Higenbottam

Consultant Respiratory Physician
Developed the diagnostic which doubled the survival rates of lung transplant patients and co-discovered three medical treatments for pulmonary hypertension.

Tim Higenbottam came to Papworth Hospital in January 1981 as a physician and ran the Regional Respiratory Physiology Laboratory.

Joined by John Wallwork later that year, he introduced transbronchial lung biopsies with the support of pathology colleagues including Peter Stovin, to monitor infection and rejection in lung transplant patients. This doubled patient survival chances.

With colleagues John Wallwork and Francis Wells, Professor Higenbottam began the revolution in the medical care of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) with the discovery that intravenous prostacyclin increased survival. He then co-discovered two further treatments of PAH, inhaled nitric oxide for neonates and oral sildenafil. In the UK some 3,000 PAH patients survive on medical care alone, reducing the need for lung transplant surgery.

After leaving Papworth Hospital in 1995 to become Professor of Medicine in Sheffield, Professor Higenbottam led the collaboration of the UK PAH centres, including Papworth, to establish the National Network of Pulmonary Hypertension Clinics in 2001. These have provided a global standard for the care patients and facilitated advances in scientific knowledge of PAH.