Scientist wins American Heart Association award

Kentucky medical scientist wins AHA Achievement Award for “extraordinary contributions” to cardiovascular research

Roberto Bolli, M.D., of the University of Louisville has won the American Heart Association Research Achievement Award for 2013 “for the profound and lasting impact of his extraordinary contributions to cardiovascular research.”

Bolli is Professor of Medicine, Physics and Biophysics, Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and Director of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology at the University of Louisville. He received the award, a citation and $2,500 honorarium, Nov. 17 during the opening of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013 at the Dallas Convention Center.

“Over the past 40 years, (Dr.) Bolli has gained deserved recognition as a world leader in his field,” said American Heart Association president Mariell Jessup, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania in presenting the award. “He has advanced our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for injury to the heart during ischemia and reperfusion, opening the way for developing novel protective strategies in patients with ischemic heart disease.”

In early studies Bolli established a primary role of oxygen-free radicals in development of reversible heart dysfunction, or “myocardial stunning.” His research further delineated at the molecular level how cardiac muscle adapts to stress, Jessup said.

More recently, Bolli has emerged as a leader in regenerative cardiology, the pioneering use of patient-derived cardiac stem cells to repair heart muscle damaged during a heart attack. The Kentucky scientist currently is directing the first major study to test the potential healing effect of patients’ own stem cells.

“Seamlessly melding basic experiments with patient-oriented studies has been a hallmark of Dr. Bolli’s research,” Jessup noted. “He has made great strides in solving the mysteries of ischemic heart disease and developing effective new approaches in the attack on this worldwide problem afflicting millions.”

“It is an extraordinary honor to receive the Research Achievement Award. I am profoundly grateful to the American Heart Association, which has been an incredible partner and supporter for more than 30 years,” said Bolli who also is a Distinguished University Scholar and holds the Jewish Hospital Heart & Lung Institute Distinguished Chair in Cardiology at UofL. “Its role in my professional activities cannot be overstated: Simply put, my work and my career would not have happened without the support of the AHA.”


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