Friday, May 28, 2010

Peter Harris Distinguished Scientist Award Presented to USA Physiologist

Dr. James M. Downey, professor of physiology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, was recently presented the Peter Harris Distinguished Scientist Award by the International Society for Heart Research (ISHR) at their world congress in Kyoto, Japan.

The award was given to Dr. Downey in recognition of outstanding scientific achievements that have led to major advances in the understanding of the cardiovascular system.

“Dr. James Downey was selected for this prestigious award in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of cardioprotection,” said Dr. Roberto Bolli, president of ISHR.

“As a leader in cardioprotection for three decades, Dr. Downey has made major contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for heart attacks and of the therapies to alleviate such injury,” said Dr. Bolli, who is also chief of the division of cardiovascular medicine and director of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology at the University of Louisville. “Much of the progress in this area must be credited to his innovative work.”

Dr. Downey’s research focuses on protecting the ischemic heart, a problem that occurs when the heart muscle receives insufficient blood flow. “It is important to keep cells alive between the time of occlusion and when blood flow is restored,” Dr. Downey said. “Our research explores potential therapies that could be given that would protect the heart from damage when a person suffers a heart attack.”

Dr. Downey received a bachelor of science degree from Manchester College in Indiana. His doctorate was in physiology from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, followed by postdoctoral training at Harvard.

He has published more than 260 full papers, and he sits on four editorial boards. He has been active in the governance of the ISHR since the 1980s and served as president of ISHR-International from 2001 to 2004. He has also been active in the governance committees of the American Physiological Society and the American Heart Association. His laboratory is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The Peter Harris Distinguished Scientist Award, created in 1986, is in recognition of the work of Dr. Peter Harris (1923-2002), an influential international statesman of cardiology. Dr. Harris was director of the Institute of Cardiology, University of London, and his career was dedicated to exploring the cardiovascular system and the origins of heart disease.

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