63rd Annual Fall Conference and Scientific Session of the American Heart Association Council for High Blood Pressure Research in Association With the Council on the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease
The American Heart Association (AHA) High Blood Pressure Research Conference is considered to be among the most important and prestigious medical meetings on hypertension in the world, designed as a scientific program that focuses on disseminating information about recent advances in hypertension research. This program provides an opportunity and platform for learning, interacting, and networking among scientists, clinicians, and allied health care workers. The 2009 meeting was an enormous success, with a record number of 749 registrants from more than 20 countries. The program committee and council chairs, Clinton Webb (high blood pressure research) and Jeff Sands (kidney in cardiovascular disease), are to be applauded.
The council meeting was preceded by a 1-day workshop titled, “Systems Medicine Strategies in Hypertension: From Molecules to Patients,” and focused on state-of-the-art technologies and approaches to better understand molecular and physiological mechanisms of hypertension in experimental and clinical settings. The workshop, organized by Ernesto L. Schiffrin (McGill University), Thomas M. Coffman (Duke University), and Anna F. Dominiczak (University of Glasgow), attracted more than 250 registrants and was the largest ever at a Council for High Blood Pressure Research (CHBPR) meeting. World-renowned investigators led the workshop with presentations and discussions. The workshop concluded with a presentation given by Daniel Levy (Framingham, MA), who linked all of the topics of the workshop through his talk titled, “Genes, Molecules, Systems Biology, and Epidemiology: Bringing It Together Through Framingham.” This was a perfect foundation to start the official council meeting.
The scientific program of the conference was abstract based and included more than 400 reviewed abstracts presented in oral and poster sessions. In addition, numerous named award lectures were given by the most outstanding investigators in the hypertension community. The objectives of the meeting were certainly met, and by the end of the 1.0-day workshop and 2.5-day conference, attendees should have satisfactorily been able to do the following: (1) understand the genetic underpinnings involved in the pathogenesis of hypertension and the translation into clinical practice in terms of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment; (2) identify the mechanisms involved in cardiovascular and renal remodeling and available treatments that target these pathways; (3) appreciate the role of the immune system and inflammation in the pathophysiology of hypertension, as well as the effect of available treatments on this system; (4) understand the outcomes of recent major trials in hypertension and cardiovascular disease and incorporate new information into clinical practice; (5) identify the hormonal and metabolic mechanisms that link hypertension, obesity, and diabetes mellitus; (6) describe the functioning of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and its role in hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease; and (6) understand the outcomes of recent major trials in hypertension and cardiovascular disease and incorporate new information from these trials into clinical practice.
The scientific program was enriched by the contributions of the many awardees of the CHBPR. The awards presented at the meeting recognize outstanding achievements and contributions in hypertension research. The CHBPR proudly sponsors numerous awards, honorary lectureships, and travel grants to AHA meetings, each of which honors outstanding and notable researchers, early career investigators, or medical students.
The premier award of the CHBPR is the Novartis Award for Hypertension, which is the highest honor in hypertension research given annually by the CHBPR and Novartis. It recognizes outstanding researchers whose investigations have improved treatment and increased understanding of high blood pressure. The recipients of the 2009 Novartis Award were Curt D. Sigmund, professor of internal medicine and molecular physiology and biophysics at the University of Iowa (Figure 1), and Carlos M. Ferrario, professor of medicine in the Department of Physiology/Pharmacology at Wake Forest University (Figure 2). Dr Sigmund, who holds the Roy J. Carver Chair in Hypertension Research and directs the Center on Functional Genomics of Hypertension at the University of Iowa Cardiovascular Research Center, received the award for his pioneering research using genetically manipulated mice to understand the role of the renin-angiotensin system in hypertension and the involvement of the protein peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ, a target of antidiabetes medications, in vascular function. Dr Ferrario, who directs the Hypertension and Vascular Research Center at Wake Forest University, received the award for his significant contributions and groundbreaking work in angiotensin peptides, specifically related to the role of angiotensin-(1-7) in the regulation of blood pressure.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is named in honor of Irvine Page and Alva Bradley, who played a prominent role in establishing the National Foundation for High Blood Pressure Research in 1945, which subsequently evolved into the CHBPR of the AHA. The 2009 Page-Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Leopoldo Raij, professor of medicine at the University of Miami, in recognition for his outstanding achievements in the field of hypertension and his service to the CHBPR (Figure 3).
The Harriet Dustan Award recognizes female investigators who have made outstanding contributions in the field of hypertension. The award was established to honor the memory of Harriet Dustan, a superb clinician-scientist who was a tireless worker on behalf of the CHBPR and the AHA. The 2009 award was given to Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Scientist Development and Robert H. Williams Professor of Medicine Nancy J. Brown, of Vanderbilt University (Figure 4). Brown’s research group has studied the mechanisms through which drugs that interrupt the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone and kallikrein-kinin systems affect the risk of heart disease and death in patients with hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
The Harry Goldblatt New Investigator Award recognizes a new independent investigator working in hypertension or cardiovascular research who has significantly contributed to our understanding of the causes of hypertension and related cardiovascular disease. The 3 finalists for 2009, selected by the Awards Committee from applicants who submitted abstracts accepted for presentation, were Eric Lazartigues (Louisiana State University, Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA), Weirong Zhang (University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX), and Christian Delles (University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom). Dr Delles was selected as the winner for his abstract titled, “Inflammatory and Adhesion Related Genes Are Up Regulated in Mononuclear Cells of Patients With Coronary Artery Disease” (Figure 5).
Toshiro Fujita, professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Tokyo School of Medicine (Tokyo, Japan), presented the Arthur C. Corcoran Memorial Lecture titled, “Mineralocorticoid Receptor Function in Salt-Sensitive Hypertension and Metabolic Syndrome” (Figure 6).
Christian Deschepper, director of the Experimental Cardiovascular Biology Research Unit, Institut de Recherch Cliniques de Montreal (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) presented the Lewis K. Dahl Memorial Lecture on “Cardioprotective Effects of Cyclic GMP: Lessons From Animal Genetic Models” (Figure 7).
The Donald Seldin Lecture of the Council on Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease was presented by Roger Wiggins of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI). The title of his presentation was “Progression of Kidney Disease and the Podocyte.”
The strengths and contributions of the members of the CHBPR were further recognized at the annual meeting when it was announced that 2 of the council members were recipients of awards from the AHA. Tadashi Inagami, Stanford Moore Professor of Biochemistry and Medicine at Vanderbilt University, was the recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award, the highest scientific award of the AHA, in recognition for his contributions in the field of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and hypertension (Figure 8). Ronald G. Victor, associate director of Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and director of the Cedars-Sinai Hypertension Center (Los Angeles, CA), was the recipient of the Louis B. Russell, Jr, Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to Minority and Underserved Populations. In 2003, Dr Victor initiated a program at 2 Dallas-area barbershops to improve the awareness, treatment, and control of high blood pressure among black men by having the barbers measure their customers’ blood pressures when they came in for a haircut.
Supporting the next generation of hypertension investigators is a priority of the CHBPR. As such, it is with pride that the council actively supports many trainees to attend the annual CHBPR conference. In 2009, 12 new investigator awards were supported by the CHBPR, 2 new investigator awards were supported by the Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease Council, 5 European new investigator awards were supported by Astra Zeneca, and 4 new investigator travel awards were provided by the CHBPR trainee advocacy committee.
A new initiative of the 2009 program was to include a presentation from the top trainee of the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia, given by PhD student T. Michael De Silva, Department of Pharmacology, Monash University (Melbourne, Australia). The title of his presentation was “Defining the Role(s) of Nox2-Containing NADPH Oxidase in the Cerebral Circulation.” Over the next few years, the CHBPR will reciprocate this gesture and provide support for young awardees from our council to participate in the annual meeting of the High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia. Such an initiative allows for excellent international opportunities for the next generation of hypertension scientists.
The 63rd meeting of the CHBPR was a great success. All of the participants were enriched, whether through gaining new personal knowledge and insights in hypertension research, through changes in scientific approaches in the laboratory, or through novel therapeutic strategies in the management of patients with hypertension and associated conditions.
The success of the meeting would not have been possible without the tremendous assistance from the AHA staff, particularly Susan Kunish; the guidance and support from R. Clinton Webb (current chair of the CHBPR) and L. Gabriel Navar (past chair of the CHBPR); and the hard work by the program committee and reviewers who spent many hours reviewing abstracts. Thanks and appreciation are expressed to all. The 64th meeting will take place in Washington, DC, next year, from October 13 to 16.
From the meeting, there were 97 articles submitted for consideration, and all were subjected to rigorous peer review. Of these, 19 were accepted for publication and represent some of the important research presented at the meeting. Unfortunately, many meritorious articles could not be accepted. Only those that required minor or no revisions could be accepted for publication in this supplemental issue. John E. Hall, the editor-in-chief, encourages the submission of articles from the meeting to be considered for publication in a regular issue of Hypertension. The editors want to express their appreciation to those who reviewed the articles submitted for this special issue of Hypertension. They regret that only a small representative fraction of the many excellent articles submitted could be published in these proceedings.
The present supplemental issue of Hypertension highlights a selection of articles based on abstracts presented at the 63rd Annual Fall Conference of the Councils on High Blood Pressure Research and Kidney in Cardiovascular Disease; September 23–26, 2009; Chicago, Ill,