American Heart Association’s prize goes to Nashville scientist for findings that ‘changed the direction’ of high blood pressure research

American Heart Association Meeting Report

November 12, 2018 Categories: Scientific Conferences & Meetings

Embargoed until 5 a.m. CT / 6 a.m. ET on Monday, November 12, 2018

CHICAGO, Nov. 12 — The American Heart Association awarded its Basic Research Prize for 2018 to David G. Harrison, M.D., of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, for “lasting contributions that changed the direction of research in hypertension and its complications.”

Harrison received the prize on Sunday, November 11, during opening ceremonies at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians at McCormick Place convention center in Chicago. Association President Ivor Benjamin, M.D., of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, made the presentation for outstanding achievement in basic cardiovascular disease science.

AHA’s President said Harrison “has made two enduring contributions that profoundly changed research in the fields of hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases.”  He and his colleagues showed that specialized molecules known as reactive oxygen species contribute to elevated blood pressure and its complications. “This led to an entirely new understanding of hypertension – that is, that oxidative signaling in the blood vessel, the kidney and the brain contribute to blood pressure elevation and the organ damage associated with it,” Benjamin said.

Harrison’s team reported “seminal” findings that T cells play a key role in the development of hypertension, Benjamin said. “These original discoveries led to an explosion of investigations around the world into oxidative signaling and innate and adaptive immunity in hypertension.”

Benjamin said Harrison’s group continues to lead this field of study, “finding that preventing excessive production of reactive oxygen species avoids vessel damage and normalizes blood pressure. These results provided insights into the systemic inflammation found in vascular diseases.”

Harrison joined Vanderbilt’s medical faculty in 2011 after serving as Director of Cardiology at Emory University. He received his M.D. degree from the Oklahoma University School of Medicine.

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