University of Minnesota

Michael Oliver, MD

Born: 1925

Michael Oliver, an Englishman educated at Edinburgh, is a pioneer researcher in cardiovascular diseases (CVD) who has made major contributions to understanding of their natural history, mechanisms, and prevention. His first published works, at age 28, elaborated the effect of estrogens on serum lipids and on homeostasis, and he soon thereafter was invited to attend the first international conference on diet-lipid-heart issues, held in Minneapolis in 1955 and chaired by Ancel Keys.

His research and teaching career spans half a century, producing seminal findings on such central phenomena as lipoprotein regulation, insulin resistance, and metabolic substrate (free fatty acids) causing cardiac arrhythmias.

Oliver headed up the first lipid lowering trial with drugs, the World Health Organization (WHO) Clofibrate Trial, which showed decreased coronary incidence but excess total deaths, and he continued to lead in the design and conduct of such trials and clinical research well into the Era of the Statins. He has long consulted with WHO on CVD matters and regularly made comment from on high about the role of diet in CVD, sitting on learned bodies sometimes recommending, sometimes skeptical of diet in preventive strategies, in which he particularly criticizes “American” dietary policy.

In retirement as Professor Emeritus from Edinburgh, Oliver serves as Honorary Professor at the National Heart and Lung Institute in London and is currently editor of a Wellcome Trust publication on the UK role historically in exploring the diet-lipid-heart hypothesis. (HB)


Oliver MF, Boyd GS. The plasma lipids in coronary heart disease. British Heart Journal 1953,15: 387-93.

KurienVA, OliverMF. A metabolic cause of arrhythmias during acute myocardial hypoxia. Lancet 1970,I: 813-815.

Report from the Committee of the Principal Investigators. A cooperative trial of the primary prevention of ischaemic heart disease using clofibrate. British Heart Journal 1978, 40:1069-1118.

Oliver MF. Pioneer research in Britain into atherosclerosis and
coronary heart disease – an historical review. Atherosclerosis 2000, 150:1-12.

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