The purpose of this program and research award is to stimulate physicians-in-training to pursue a career in clinical research in hypertension. The research fellow must be conducting work in which he or she is the major senior investigator in any area, including clinical or laboratory aspects of the hypertensive diseases. The fellow’s work would be supervised by the director of the research training program (the mentor), but the conduct of the investigation is primarily by the research fellow. The winning presentation receives $3,000 and the fellow’s mentor receives $25,000 to support the clinical investigative training of a research fellow the following year.
The Council for High Blood Pressure Research of the American Heart Association is pleased to announce that Dr W. Reid Litchfield is the winner of the Thirteenth Annual Hocchst Marion Roussel Hypertension Research Clinical Fellowship Award. He received his MD degree from the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1990. Dr Litchfield completed his internship and internal medicine residency at the University of Calgary and went on to complete his fellowship in Endocrinology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School in 1996. He is currently an instructor at Harvard Medical School and the Endocrine-Hypertension Division of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
Dr Litchfield joined the laboratory of Drs Robert Dluhy and Gordon Williams in 1994 with an interest in the genetics of human hypertension. He has done a number of studies to investigate the pathophysiology of glucocorticoid-remediable aldosteronism (GRA), a rare form of primary aldosteronism that represents the first genetic form of hypertension identified in humans. In collaboration with Dr Dluhy and Dr Richard P. Lifton, Yale University School of Medicine, he studied potassium homeostasis in GRA patients. The failure of potassium-stimulated aldosterone production in GRA was speculated to help explain the unexpected normal potassium levels seen in this form of hyperaldosteronism. He has also published the diagnostic criteria for the dexamethasone suppression test to screen patients with primary aldosteronism suspected of having GRA.
In conjunction with Dr Gordon H. Williams and others, Dr Litchfield is also studying potentially new intermediate phenotypes in essential hypertensives. These studies have focused on evaluating the effects of dietary sodium loading on parameters such as urinary free cortisol, glycyrrhetinic acid-like factors and plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1.
In his abstract at the Council for High Blood Pressure Research Meeting, Dr Litchfield reported an association between intracerebral hemorrhage and GRA. His large, retrospective study of more than 350 patients from 27 GRA pedigrees showed an 18% prevalence of such cerebrovascular complications in patients with GRA. These events had a very high (60%) case fatality rate. Importantly, these hemorrhagic events were shown to result from intracranial aneurysms. As a result, Dr Litchfield’s study has made it possible to recommend screening for aneurysm in asymptomatic patients with genetically proven GRA.