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Willerson Receives 2007 Katz Prize in Cardiovascular Research
Columbia University Medical Center Award Recognizes Outstanding Scientists
Columbia University Medical Center on Oct. 30 bestowed the 2007 Katz Prize in Cardiovascular Research upon internationally distinguished cardiologist James T. Willerson, M.D., president of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and president-elect of Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.
Willerson received the Lewis Katz Visiting Professorship in Cardiovascular Research for excellence in cardiovascular research and education.
The second of two awards recognizes Thomas G. Diacovo, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and pathology and director of Neonatal and Critical Care Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, who received the Lewis Katz Cardiovascular Research Prize for a Young Investigator.
The awards were presented Oct. 30 at a dinner following an afternoon lecture by Willerson.
“Dr. Willerson and Dr. Diacovo are both outstanding scientists, representing the high level of excellence in cardiovascular research and education that we honor with the Katz Prizes,” said Allan Schwartz, M.D., chief of the Division of Cardiology at Columbia University Medical Center.
“Dr. Willerson’s long career of research breakthroughs and his history of training many of today’s outstanding cardiologists make him a leader in the field, and Dr. Diacovo’s innovative investigations into the biophysical and structural mechanisms underlying blood clot formation hold great promise for expediting the development and testing of life-saving drugs to treat cardiovascular disease. It is a privilege to honor both of them with this award,” said Schwartz.
The Katz Prizes were created at Columbia University Medical Center through the generosity of entrepreneur and philanthropist Lewis Katz to recognize excellence in cardiovascular research and education. The prizes, each $100,000, are awarded to two outstanding physician-scientists annually. This is the second year of the awards.
“I am humbled and honored by the award of the 2007 Lewis Katz Visiting Professorship in Cardiovascular Research. The generosity of Mr. Katz and the leadership of the Columbia University Medical Center are overwhelming,” Willerson said. “It is most significant and fitting that Mr. Katz and Columbia also honor a young investigator. This prestigious recognition is shared with my family and those colleagues who have worked with me throughout my career.”
Willerson has been at the forefront of cardiovascular research, discovery, and education throughout his career. His recent work has concentrated on elucidating mechanisms responsible for the conversion from stable to unstable coronary artery disease syndromes, the prevention of unstable angina, and acute myocardial infarction. He is the holder of the Edward Randall III Chair in Internal Medicine and the Alkek/Williams Distinguished Professorship.
Willerson served as editor-in-chief of Circulation, the American Heart Association’s largest scientific journal, from 1993-2004. In 2005, he received the American Heart Association’s Gold Heart Award, the organization’s highest honor for volunteers who have provided distinguished service.
In September, he announced his intent to resign as health science center president and assume full presidency at the Texas Heart Institute. He said he will stay “until an appropriate successor is found and is in place at UT Houston.”
The founder of these prizes, Lewis Katz, is the former owner of Kinney Parking Systems, a trustee of Temple University and Dickinson School of Law at 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 Baseball.