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American Heart Association names UofL professor as distinguished scientist

November 11th, 2008


Roberto Bolli

The American Heart Association this week named Roberto Bolli a winner of the 2008 Distinguished Scientist Award at its 2008 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

Bolli is professor of medicine, chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, director of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology and vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine at the University of Louisville. He holds the Jewish Hospital Distinguished Chair in Cardiology and is a Distinguished University Scholar.

The Distinguished Scientist Award recognizes people who have made major, independent contributions to cardiovascular and stroke research. Past honorees include several scientists who have received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

Awardees undergo a rigorous, competitive selection process that focuses on the impact their research has on the field, the originality of their work and their leadership in changing the field as independent investigators.

“There is really no way to overstate how richly Dr. Bolli has contributed to the world’s scientific knowledge of the heart,” said Kathy Renbarger, metro vice president for the American Heart Association in Kentucky.

For the past three decades, Bolli’s research has focused on preventing the damage that occurs during heart attacks. He discovered that when the heart muscle is exposed to brief periods of stress, it becomes resistant to the tissue death that might result from a heart attack. This phenomenon is called preconditioning.

He also was instrumental in proving that oxidative stress can “stun” the heart — a breakthrough that brought the role of antioxidants in preventing oxidative stress to the attention of the medical community worldwide. He now is investigating the use of stem cells from a patient’s own heart to repair areas damaged by a heart attack.

Under Bolli’s direction, UofL’s Institute of Molecular Cardiology recently received $11.6 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to establish a center of excellence in diabetes and obesity research. This grant brings the institute’s NIH research funding total to more than $62 million over the past decade.

“We congratulate Dr. Bolli as he becomes a member of a very elite fraternity in the field of cardiovascular research. This is a well-deserved award,” said UofL Dean of Medicine Edward Halperin.

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Distinguished Scientist Award

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