Niels H. Secher Receives DCAcademy Lifetime Achievement Award 2023

Niels H. Secher, a pioneer of scientific discoveries within integrated cardiovascular physiology and anesthesiology, receives the DCAcademy Lifetime Achievement Award 2023.

Photo: Rebekka Brincker

At this years DCAcademy Summer Meeting, DCAcademy honors a researcher’s outstanding contributions to the field of cardiology with the DCAcademy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

This year, the DCAcademy Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Niels H. Secher, Professor of anesthesiology at Rigshospitalet. 

“Niels H. Secher receives the award for a lifetime of dedicated work to understanding integrative cardiovascular function with an emphasis on cerebral circulation and exercise physiology,” says DCA Executive Managing Director Christian Aalkjær, who presented the award. 

Niels H. Secher was visibly moved by receiving the award with a standing ovation from the audience. 

“This award certainly came as a surprise, and I am very grateful. It is a big thing for an anesthesiologist,” says Niels H. Secher. 

Internationally acclaimed  

Niels H. Secher has a long list of international collaborations behind him. “I believe I have had more than 50 close international colleagues,” Niels H. Secher explains.  

Several of these colleagues congratulated Niels via video greetings, a montage of which was shown at the award presentation. 

Among the video greetings was Professor Damien Bailey of the University of South Wales, who summarized Niels’ impact thus: “Niels has been an absolute legend to many of us. He has published so much seminal work that ranges across so many different specialties, from the clinical, translational, and performance-based, and his mechanistic focus has always been inspirational.” Besides heaps of congratulations and mentions of his scientific accomplishments, every greeting highlighted his collegial and ever-friendly nature. 

From Olympic rower to honored researcher 

Remarkably, Niels H. Secher has a history not just of research, but also of competitive rowing.  

He won a gold medal, along with Jørgen Engelbrecht, in men’s double sculls at the World Championship in 1970 in Canada. He has also won several Danish championships, and he represented Denmark at the Olympic Games in 1968 in Mexico City and 1972 in Munich.  

Rowing sparked his interest in exercise physiology. From here, he later became an anesthesiologist to better learn about ventilation control and circulation. As an anesthesiologist, he has been motivated by protecting the patients as best as possible. 

“All kinds of things can happen when people are under anesthesia. Luckily, we have drastically reduced the number of deaths. That is our role – to ensure people are safe when under,” explains Niels H. Secher. “Complications arise when there are problems with the circulation, so that is what we focused on.” 

Niels H. Secher invented the term “normovolaemia”, which is defined by a balance of central blood volume and venous oxygen saturation. Ensuring this balance makes it much safer for patients to be put under anesthesia. 

“I did it my way” 

Despite numerous accolades, Niels H. Secher remains a humble man through and through, even when receiving a lifetime achievement award. 

“I cannot live up to all these fine measurements. I just did it my way, the anaesthesiology way,” said Niels H. Secher in his acceptance speech, while showing a picture of Frank Sinatra behind him on his slides. 

Niels H. Secher ended his speech by thanking the DCA and praising all the talks of the DCAcademy Summer Meeting 2023. “Thank you for this meeting and thank you for all the fantastic presentations,” he said. 

Facts - Niels H. Secher: 

  • M.D., University of Copenhagen, 1975 
  • D.M.S (dr. med.), University of Copenhagen, 1984
  • Anesthesiologist, 1988 
  • Professor of Anesthesiology, Rigshospitalet, 2009 
  • More than 700 papers published and over 24.000 citations 
  • Has received several awards, such as the prestigious Marie and August Krogh Prize from the Novo Nordisk Foundation 
  • World Champion in double sculls rowing, 1970