2008 Katz Prizes In Cardiovascular Research Announced

November 3, 2008

Harvard Duo Christine and Jonathan Seidman, and Columbia Cardiologist Andrew Einstein Named Katz Winners

2008 Katz Prize Winners Drs. Christine and Jonathan Seidman of Harvard University. Credit: Harvard University NEW YORK (Oct. 30, 2008) – Columbia University Medical Center today announces three winners of the 2008 Katz Prizes in Cardiovascular Research. The senior scientist prize will be awarded to two internationally renowned researchers who have been credited with discovering many genetic causes of cardiac disorders. The young investigator prize recognizes a cardiovascular researcher studying computed tomography angiogram (CTA), a new, non-invasive imaging technique used to assess levels of calcium and fatty deposits in the coronary arteries.

The awards will be presented Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008, at a dinner at Columbia University Medical Center, following afternoon lectures by the winners. Lewis Katz, entrepreneur and philanthropist, created these prizes in 2006 to recognize outstanding contributions in cardiovascular research, by both senior scientists and young investigators working on pertinent questions related to cardiovascular health.

The senior scientist award goes to the research team of Christine E. Seidman, M.D., and Jonathan G. Seidman, Ph.D., both of Harvard University. The young investigator award goes to Andrew J. Einstein, M.D., Ph.D., of Columbia University Medical Center.

“We are proud to award our 2008 Katz Prizes to these trail blazers in cardiovascular science,” said Allan Schwartz, M.D., chief of the Division of Cardiology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “These clinician-scientists represent the highest level of excellence in cardiovascular research and education. The Seidmans’ work in the area of genetic factors in cardiovascular disease has led to a fundamental shift in the way we think about cardiovascular disease; Dr. Einstein’s efforts have charted the way toward safer, more effective diagnoses of heart disease.”

Seidmans Recognized for Illuminating Genetic Heart Disease

The Seidman research team has detected many genetic causes for heart disease. They first identified the genetic cause of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that thickens the heart muscle and often causes arrhythmias and heart failure. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common cause of sudden death in athletes, but until discovery of disease genes, its etiology was completely unknown. The pair found that mutations in genes encoding the contractile proteins of the heart cause this disorder. This discovery has enabled early and accurate gene-based diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and identification of individuals at risk for sudden death. In addition, by developing models that carry human mutations, the team has defined the mechanisms by which changes in contractile proteins lead to hypertrophy, information that suggests new therapeutic strategies. The Seidmans also have demonstrated that many common forms of cardiac hypertrophy that occur in the general population also reflect genetic variation in contractile protein genes.

Dr. Christine Seidman, a preeminent cardiovascular geneticist and clinician, completed training at the George Washington School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. She subsequently joined the faculty at Brigham & Women’s Hospital where she is Thomas W. Smith Professor and Director of the Cardiovascular Genetics Center and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Jonathan Seidman is a founding faculty member of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, where he is Bugher Professor of Cardiovascular Genetics. He completed graduate studies in molecular biology at the University of Wisconsin and post-doctoral training at the National Institutes of Health. The Seidmans jointly direct a laboratory that focuses on discovering the genetic basis for many human disorders. In addition to their work on cardiac hypertrophy, the husband-and-wife team has identified genetic causes for dilated cardiomyopathy, congenital heart disease, hearing loss, and metabolic conditions. Harnessing their individual strengths in clinical medicine and molecular technologies they elucidate disease genes, dissect pathophysiologic mechanisms, and translate research findings to advance diagnosis and improve patient care. Their productive collaboration has trained more than 75 academic investigators who lead laboratories around the world.

Einstein Recognized for Advances in Cardiac Imaging Research

Cardiac imaging is the focus of Dr. Andrew Einstein’s research, which is currently funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Nuclear Cardiology Foundation. His current research interests lie in the areas of radiation safety in cardiology, multi-modality correlative imaging studies, applications of cardiac computed tomography in coronary heart disease and electrophysiology, technology assessment and meta-analysis, and radioisotope supply.

His focus on the measurement of radiation dose and estimation of cancer risks from cardiac imaging procedures led to findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in July 2007 that women and younger patients had a greater lifetime risk of cancer associated with radiation exposure from coronary computed tomography angiogram (CTA). Dr. Einstein is now researching strategies to minimize these risks to patients and practitioners.

Dr. Einstein joined the Columbia faculty in 2006, where he now holds a joint appointment in the Department of Medicine’s Cardiology Division and the Department of Radiology. His clinical activities are centered on cardiac imaging focusing on nuclear cardiology, cardiac computed tomography, and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging. He also serves as an attending physician in the cardiac ICU, Heart Institute, and cardiology outpatient clinic at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia. He has been actively involved in the training of numerous medical students, residents, and cardiology fellows.

Lewis Katz has been successful in numerous fields, from law and business to advertising and sports. Trained as a lawyer, Katz established the law firm of Katz, Ettin and Levine in Cherry Hill, N.J., before purchasing in 1990 Kinney Parking Systems in New York. He is a trustee of Temple University and Dickinson School of Law at the Pennsylvania State University, and a founding member of the Boys and Girls Club of Camden County, N.J. He is a partner of the New Jersey Nets and New York Yankees. He is also a member of the National Basketball Association Board of Governors.

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Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia's College of Physicians & Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and state and one of the largest in the United States.

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Harvard University, Jonathan Seidman, Lewis Katz, Physicians Surgeons