Thu • Jan

Thursday, January 17, 2019



6:00 PM – 6:30 PM Reception; 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM Presentation


The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029


Free, but advance registration is required

Almost forty years ago, Robert Furchgott revolutionized our understanding of vascular function. He found that an endothelial factor modulates vascular tone. Relatively quickly, it was discovered that nitric oxide, a gas, is the “Furchgott factor” released by endothelium. For this work, Furchgott, Ignarro, and Murad received the Nobel Prize in 1998. Dr. Heistad’s lecture will begin with these findings.

Dr. Heistad and others discovered that endothelial dysfunction is common in cardiovascular disease. Then it became clear that endothelial dysfunction predicts outcome of several cardiovascular diseases. Impairment of endothelial function in atherosclerosis and hypertension is a functional (not structural) abnormality, which improves with treatment of cardiovascular risk factors. Several drugs that are used commonly in patients also have important effects on endothelial function. Dr. Heistad will describe findings that provide new understanding of endothelial mechanisms and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Recently, Dr. Heistad has focused on mechanisms of aortic stenosis, with emphasis on endothelial factors and discovery of possible novel treatment. Two molecules, endothelin-1 and PAI-1, have emerged as potential targets to inhibit development and progression of aortic stenosis. Finally, Dr. Heistad will summarize important studies during the past decade that have emphasized the likely role of endothelial dysfunction in vascular dementia, and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.

About the Lecturer

Donald Heistad, MD, is the Pomerantz Family Chair in Cardiology and Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine, and Visiting Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Heistad has received international recognition for his studies of vascular biology of atherosclerosis and hypertension, with a focus on the role of endothelium.

Dr. Heistad received his medical degree from the University of Chicago, where he also completed his internship and residency. He came to the University of Iowa as a cardiovascular trainee, and then served in the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Natick, MA. Dr. Heistad returned to Iowa as an Assistant Professor, and was promoted to Professor after six years. He served for many years as Deputy Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center and as Director of the Cardiovascular Division.

Dr. Heistad was performing “translational research” before the phrase was popularized. He examined physiologic mechanisms of endothelial function, and mechanisms that impair endothelial function. He then applied these principles and approaches to study vascular effects of atherosclerosis and hypertension. One of his landmark studies was to show that reduction of lipids in atherosclerotic monkeys led to restoration of normal endothelial function. The studies were quickly confirmed in humans. Heistad has authored more than 400 peer-reviewed papers, with nearly 20,000 citations, and an h-index score of 71. He has been funded by the NIH for 45 years.

Dr. Heistad has received many honors. He received the Research Achievement Award from the American Heart Association, Novartis Award for Hypertension Research from the AHA, Harry Goldblatt Award and Irving Wright Award of the AHA, Wiggers Award of the American Physiological Society, Irvine Page Award of the American Society of Hypertension, Landis Award of the Microcirculatory Society and Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Chicago. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

Dr. Heistad’s service to the academic community has been exceptional. He was Editor-in-Chief of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology for eight years, Associate Editor of Circulation Research and Hypertension, and served on the Editorial Board of several journals. He was President of the Association of University Cardiologists. He has chaired NHLBI Review Committees, chaired an NIH Special Emphasis Panel, and chaired the IRG Cardiovascular Working Group that led to revised structure for Review Groups. He was President of the Faculty Senate at the University of Iowa, and served on three search committees for University President.

Dr. Heistad has said that his greatest scientific contribution has been as a mentor, of 77 trainees. He has trained many superb investigators, including an HHMI Investigator, many Department Chairs, and several Associate Deans. When he was introduced after receiving an award, his career as a physician-scientist was summed up as: intense curiosity to uncover hidden concepts, having courage to change as science changes, productive collaborations, and sharing his goals, passion, and thrill of discovery with his trainees.

Event series:
Endowed Lectures and Awards