David G. Harrison, MD, the Betty and Jack Bailey Professor of Cardiology and director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, has been awarded the American Heart Association’s Basic Research Prize for 2018.
Harrison, who also directs the Vanderbilt Vascular Biology Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, was presented the award on November 10 by AHA President Ivor Benjamin, MD, during the opening ceremonies of the AHA’s Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago.
In a news release, Benjamin noted two of Harrison’s “enduring contributions that profoundly changed research in the fields of hypertension and related cardiovascular diseases.”
Harrison and his colleagues showed that “reactive oxygen species,” forms of oxygen that can be toxic to cells, contribute to elevated blood pressure and its complications. His team also reported seminal findings that T lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) play a key role in the development of hypertension.
“These original discoveries,” Benjamin said, “led to an explosion of investigations around the world into oxidative signaling and innate and adaptive immunity in hypertension.” Subsequent findings “that preventing excessive production of reactive oxygen species avoids vessel damage and normalizes blood pressure … provided insights into the systemic inflammation found in vascular diseases.”
A graduate of the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, Harrison received his Internal Medicine and Cardiology residency training at Duke University.
He completed a research fellowship at the University of Iowa Cardiovascular Center before joining the faculty there. In 1990 Harrison moved to Emory University, where he served as director of the Division of Cardiology. He joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2011.
Harrison, who also is a professor of Medicine, Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Pharmacology, has received several accolades for his research including the Novartis Award from the AHA Council on High Blood Pressure, and separate Distinguished Scientist Awards from the AHA and American Society of Hypertension.
He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.