CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: Nov. 8, 1999
Abboud receives American Heart Association's highest
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- François Abboud, M.D., professor
and head of the University of Iowa department of internal medicine and director
of the UI Cardiovascular Research Center, has received the American Heart
Association's 1999 Research Achievement Award in recognition of his career-long
accomplishments in cardiovascular science.
Abboud accepted the honor Nov. 7 at the opening session
of the association's 72nd Scientific Sessions held in Atlanta, Ga. More than
20,000 registrants are expected to attend the sessions. In announcing the
award, the association described him as a "consummate contributor to cardiovascular
teaching and research."
The American Heart Association also noted that under
Abboud's direction the UI Cardiovascular Research Center "has grown to a position
of eminence as one of the most prestigious cardiovascular training facilities
in the world."
Abboud, who is also a UI professor of physiology and
biophysics and the Edith King Pearson Professor of Cardiovascular Research,
has conducted cardiovascular research for more than 40 years and directed
the UI Cardiovascular Research Center since 1974. He is known for discoveries
about the circulatory system and problems such as hypertension, mechanisms
of heart failure, diabetes and aging. The center promotes interdisciplinary
research, with top investigators from six UI departments using approaches
ranging from molecular biology to human clinical studies.
"We are deeply honored that the American Heart Association
has chosen to recognize
Dr. Abboud's contributions to cardiovascular research," said Robert P. Kelch,
M.D., dean of the UI College of Medicine. "All that Dr. Abboud has accomplished
as a researcher and director of the UI Cardiovascular Research Center reflects
the excellence and dedication for which this award was designed."
Five Nobel Prize laureates are among past recipients
of the association's Research Achievement Award.
Abboud said he was "absolutely elated" by news that
he had received the research award.
"My initial reaction was not to believe it," he said.
"I think the award is a fantastic honor, but it is also a reflection of the
reputation of the UI Cardiovascular Research Center. I accept the award with
pride and the belief that it is also because of the work my colleagues have
done. We have tremendous resources at the UI in terms of both people and facilities
that allow us to be at the forefront of discoveries."
Since 1971, Abboud has been a principal investigator
of a National Institutes of Health-funded investigation of circulation regulation
in pathologic (diseased) states, with the aim of finding ways to control high
blood pressure, heart failure and heart disease. His publications number more
than 400, and his research group is known internationally for work on trying
to understand how the nervous system regulates blood pressure by sending signals
from nerves in the heart and arteries to the brain.
"Cardiovascular disease is associated with the highest
mortality in our nation, and high blood pressure probably affects more than
60 million people," Abboud said. "So these are very important questions to
Abboud and his colleagues were the first to prove
in the early 1960s that insulin activates the nervous system to cause high
blood pressure in the absence of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). His team
also discovered that salt intake constricts blood vessels in people who are
susceptible to high blood pressure.
Future cardiovascular research must focus on understanding
the fundamental way in which cells work, and gene regulation to control various
diseases, Abboud said.
"With advances this past decade in technology and
genetic understanding, we are making phenomenal progress in understanding
cardiovascular disease," he said. "Research is focused on discovering new
genes; how genes control, for example, the way the heart contracts; and how
gene mutations caused by diet or environment can contribute to heart failure."
Abboud's previous American Heart Association awards
include the Award of Merit; the Gold Heart Award; the Dickinson W. Richards
Memorial Award of the Council on Pulmonary Disease; the George E. Brown Memorial
Award of the Council on Circulation; and the CIBA Award and Medal for Hypertension
Research of the Council on High Blood Pressure Research.
In addition, the association awarded Abboud his very
first research grant in 1957, support which he credits for sparking his career
as a cardiovascular specialist and researcher.
"That initial grant came at a critical time in my
training," Abboud said. "Without the American Heart Association, I probably
would not have become the academic physician and
researcher that I am. The association is one of the most
amazing voluntary professional organizations. It has laypersons, physicians
and scientists all working together to raise funds for scientific research
and provide community education and health-related programs."
"I have spent a good deal of my life trying to support
the association in return," he added.
In addition to his UI leadership roles, Abboud was
president of the American Heart Association from 1990 to 1991. He also has
presided over many other volunteer and professional organizations, including:
the Association of American Physicians, the Central Society for Clinical Research,
and the American Federation for Clinical Research. He is editor-in-chief of
Circulation Research and of the new Proceedings of the Association of American
His extensive research has also been recognized by
the Award for Experimental Therapeutics of the American Society of Pharmacology
and Experimental Therapeutics; the Wiggers Award and Medal of the American
Physiological Society's Cardiovascular Section; and the Merck Sharp and Dohme
International Award for Research Hypertension. He was elected to the Institute
of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1988 and to the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997.
A native of Egypt, Abboud received his medical degree
in 1955 from Ains Chams University in Cairo. He completed his residency in
internal medicine at Milwaukee County Hospital and fellowships in cardiology
at Marquette University and the University of Iowa. He joined the UI faculty
(NOTE TO EDITORS: University of Iowa Health Care
physician-researchers Harold Adams, M.D., and Donald Heistad, M.D., have also
received American Heart Association awards. A separate news release dated
Nov. 8, 1999, details their awards.)
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership
between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the
patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.