July 18, 2019

Madhur receives Presidential Early Career Award

Meena Madhur, MD, PhD, has received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Meena Madhur, MD, PhD

Meena Madhur, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine, has received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

The award, established in 1996, is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers, according to a news release from the White House.

“I am honored to receive this award and truly grateful for the support of my mentors and the hard work of all my trainees. Without them, this award and our science would not be possible,” said Madhur, who is also assistant professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and associate director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation.

Madhur studies the role of the immune system, specifically T cells and T cell-derived factors, in hypertension (high blood pressure).

Hypertension is a leading cause of global morbidity and mortality from stroke, heart attack, vascular disease and chronic kidney disease. In the United States, hypertension affects more than 1 in 3 adults, but only about half of individuals with high blood pressure have the condition under control.

Although evidence from Madhur’s group and others indicates that hypertension is an inflammatory process, there are currently no treatments that target the immune system.

“Our goal is to identify an inflammatory signature of hypertension and develop targeted immunotherapy for hypertension without globally suppressing the entire immune system,” Madhur said.

Madhur was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s New Innovator Award in 2016. The award, which provides $1.5 million in direct research support over five years, is designed to support “exceptionally creative, early-career investigators who propose innovative, high-impact projects,” according to the NIH.

In 2016, she was also honored with the Harry Goldblatt New Investigator Award from the American Heart Association in recognition of her significant contributions to understanding the causes of hypertension and related cardiovascular disease. This year, she received an American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, a five-year grant to support independent investigators with established records of accomplishments whose careers are expected to be in a rapid growth phase.

Madhur earned her MD and PhD degrees from the University of Virginia. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Duke University and a fellowship in Cardiology at Emory University prior to joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2012.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates the PECASE program with participating departments and agencies. Madhur was nominated by the Department of Health and Human Services.