September 25, 1998

Renin research lands Inagami international award

Renin research lands Inagami international award

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Tadashi Inagami, Ph.D.

Tadashi Inagami, Ph.D., Stanford Moore professor of Biochemistry, has been named to receive the Jokichi Takamine Memorial Award by the Society for Cardiovascular Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The award recognizes Inagami for his work on the renin-angiotensin-aldosteron system, a key metabolic system affecting hypertension. The award will be presented at the society's annual meeting in Kyoto, Japan, on November 28.

"This is a great honor to receive this award, as many great scientists have won this award before," Inagami said. "Jokichi Takamine was a very influential scientist in several fields."

The enzyme renin is the key enzyme that regulates the generation of the peptide hormone angiotensin, which has many effects on the cardiovascular system, working toward the retention of salt, elevation of blood pressure and the degeneration of the kidneys, blood vessels and the heart.

Inagami discovered the biochemical mechanism by which renin works and cloned receptors for angiotensin.

He was the first to purify renin and to elucidate its specific protease activity. Inagami applied the techniques of protein purification to this system. By using a modern molecular biological approach to receptor cloning, he isolated and determined the structures of multiple forms of the angiotensin receptor and is now clarifying signaling pathways coupled to this receptor.

This is the third international award that Inagami has received from his home country of Japan. He won the 11th International Okamoto Award, the highest award given by the Japan Vascular Research Foundation in 1995 and he was honored with the Japan Academy Award in June of 1996.

Inagami has devoted his life of research to investigating hypertension. Until a cure is found, treating the symptoms and keeping the disease under control is all that can be done, he said.

Certain drugs can control hypertension in the majority of patients, but the number of patients with hypertension is increasing as longevity of the population increases.

"In the 1950s, we had no rational way to treat hypertension," Inagami said. "It has only been in the last 40 years that we have been able to make the quality of life of these patients higher as a series of drugs have developed. There has been a very rapid progression of trial and error approaches. We can now take care of 75 to 85 percent of the hypertensive population with good predictability," he said.

This latest award serves as a reminder of Inagami's many accomplishments, colleagues said.

"We're very proud of Tad," said Dr. Michael R. Waterman, Natalie Overall Warren Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and chair of the department. "He is one of Vanderbilt's most visible scientists ‹ as indicated by all these awards he has received.

"The biochemistry department has a nice mix of senior investigators and younger investigators. Tadashi Inagami represents one of our most distinguished senior investigators. He sets standards for all of us in scientific excellence, with his scholarly accomplishments and the scope of his research, not only for our department but for all investigators at Vanderbilt."

Inagami was also honored in 1994 by the American Heart Association with the Research Achievement Award, the highest honor presented by the AHA. In 1985, he received the Ciba Award from the High Blood Pressure Research Council of the AHA. In 1986, he received the SPA Award from the National Research Foundation of Belgium. Both awards were in recognition of his pioneering work on renin and atrial natriuretic factor.