Balindiwe Sishi

Balindiwe Sishi says she had no interest in specialising in the heart during her studies because she found it such a complicated organ. That was until one of her professors made her understand its significance. “We were speaking about how in lifestyle diseases the common factor is the heart, and a light bulb went on in my head.” So the 29-year-old started looking at the heart with new eyes. This clear perspective and new drive led her to do her most sterling work as a researcher. Her study of the way science can be used to delay the onslaught of chemotherapy on heart cells won her recognition at the 2011 congress of the South African Heart Association, where she was given the award for best oral presentation in the Basic Sciences category. Sishi says she is constantly experimenting with new ways to uncover the secrets of the heart. But now she’s not daunted, just driven by the  opportunity to save lives. — Joonji Mdyogolo