Newswise — Charles H. Hennekens, M.D., Dr.P.H., the first Richard Doll Professor and senior academic advisor to the dean in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, was the founding principal investigator of the landmark Physician's Health Study of 22,071 doctors, and was the first researcher in the world to discover that aspirin prevents a first heart attack.

He also was the first to demonstrate that aspirin prevents heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular deaths when given within 24 hours after onset of symptoms of a heart attack as well as to a wide variety of patients who have survived an event associated with a blockage in the heart, brain, or legs.

He was founding principal investigator of the Women’s Health Study, which was the first to demonstrate that aspirin prevents a first stroke as well as the cardiovascular component of the Nurse’s Health Study.

Hennekens’ landmark and first discoveries on aspirin are not limited to cardiovascular disease and include the prevention of recurrent migraine headaches. He also has hypothesized that aspirin may delay cognitive loss as well as to reduce the development of type 2 diabetes. Based on his initial observations to formulate the hypothesis, other investigators have more recently demonstrated in large scale randomized trials that aspirin prevents colon polyps a well as colorectal cancer.

Hennekens has completed groundbreaking work on the benefits of statins, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) as well as beta adrenergic blockers — all of which play major roles in decreasing premature deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

From 1995 to 2005, according to Science Watch, Hennekens was the third most highly cited researcher in the world and five of the top 20 were his former fellows and/or trainees. In 2012, Science Heroes ranked Hennekens No. 81 in the history of the world for having saved more than 1.1 million lives, which placed him two spots ahead of Jonas Salk, who was ranked No. 83 for the development of the polio vaccine. In October 2013, Hennekens received the “Fries Prize for Improving Health” and in 2014, he received the Alton Ochsner Award for his pioneering work on smoking and health.