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CHICAGO, Nov. 10 – The American Heart Association (AHA) today presented its 2018 Research Achievement Award to Gary Gibbons, M.D., director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “for his dynamic leadership of studies of cardiovascular health and disease, especially in minority populations.”
Gibbons received the award 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. AHA President Ivor Benjamin, M.D., of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, made the presentation.
In presenting the award, Benjamin noted that as leader of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), Gibbons oversees the third largest National Institutes of Health component, with a staff of 917 federal employees and an annual budget of more than $3 billion. “He has launched bold, new initiatives to advance curative therapies for rare diseases and to promote precision medicine and science for the 21st Century,” AHA’s president said.
Gibbons is leading multi-disciplinary research studying racial and ethnic disparities in cardiovascular health. The investigators recently began recruiting 3,200 individuals, Benjamin said, “to study whether race-ancestry differences in cardiovascular disease reflect the influence of a unique interplay between genomic variation, social determinants and environmental factors that influence the origins of blood vessel disease.”
Under Gibbons’ guidance, researchers are developing a dense set of ancestry-informative markers that reaches beyond currently available data, Benjamin said.
Earlier research by Gibbons and his team “contributed importantly” to identifying factors implicated in the development of vascular diseases, the AHA award citation said. “As a young investigator, he was at the leading edge of the burgeoning field of vascular biology and was a key intellectual driver of the emerging conceptual framework of vascular remodeling and clarified cellular process and molecular mediators that govern vascular structure in health and disease. His team created new insights into ways to mediate vascular remodeling and validated targets for a new generation of therapies designed to treat vascular disease.”
Critical insights from Gibbons’ findings led to clinical trials proving the beneficial effects of angiotensin receptor blockade on aneurysm formation in patients with Marfan Syndrome, AHA’s award citation said.
Before becoming NHLBI director in 2012, Gibbons served on medical faculties at Stanford University, Harvard Medical School and Morehouse School of Medicine. He also is a senior investigator for the National Human Genome Research Institute.
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