Cincinnati scientist awarded American Heart Association Prize for findings of cell signaling mechanisms that trigger cardiac cell death

November 04, 2012 Categories: Scientific Conferences & Meetings
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 4, 2012 — The American Heart Association awarded its Basic Research Prize for 2012 to Jeffery Molkentin, Ph.D., of Cincinnati, for “transformational discoveries of signaling mechanisms involved in heart cell death and hypertrophy as well as potential triggers for disease, vital findings that point to promising approaches in treatment.”
Molkentin, professor in the Division of Molecular Cardiovascular Biology at Children’s Medical Center in Cincinnati, received the $5,000 prize and citation during opening ceremonies of the association’s Scientific Sessions 2012.  Association President Donna Arnett, Ph.D., of Birmingham, Ala., presented the prize, awarded annually to recognize outstanding achievement in basic cardiovascular science.
Arnett called Molkentin “an accomplished scientist and leader of basic research into mysterious mechanisms of cellular signaling in the heart.  Thanks to his insightful findings, those mechanisms aren’t as mysterious as they once were.”
Early in his career, Molkentin “revolutionized our understanding of molecular signals that force cardiac hypertrophy,” Arnett said.  “A gene he and his colleagues discovered turned out to be a critical factor in how the heart responds to external and internal stress and undergoes hypertrophy.”
More recent research placed Molkentin at the forefront of the relatively unexplored area of cardiac cell death, or necrosis, the association president said. 
“He made a critical observation describing how mitochondria, the cell’s energy producer, functions in a major regulated step for cellular necrosis.  He then showed in animal models of muscular dystrophy that the same mechanism of regulated necrosis underlies disease. He also has found that decreased calcium channel activity can induce hypertrophy,” Arnett said.
Molkentin has described intricate processes that initiate or accelerate disease, thus laying the foundation for developing new ways to delay or defeat afflictions of the heart.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit  or call any of our offices around the country.
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