November 17, 2006

Strauss wins AHA prize for research

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Arnold Strauss, M.D.

Strauss wins AHA prize for research

Arnold Strauss, M.D., has been named the 2006 recipient of the American Heart Association's Basic Science Research Award.

Strauss, chair of Pediatrics and medical director of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, accepted the award at the AHA Scientific Sessions in Chicago on Nov. 12. A reception in his honor followed, hosted by Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the Division of Pediatric Cardiology.

Strauss is the first physician from Vanderbilt to receive the award, and only the second pediatric cardiologist to be selected. He was chosen for his research on genetic defects and sudden death in infants and children.

“Dr. Strauss is an outstanding scientist whose research is driving the discovery of genetic defects that cause heart failure and sudden death in children,” said Jeffrey Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research. “Thanks to his groundbreaking work, we are now making progress toward screening for these defects and helping to save the lives of infants and newborns. His career is the model for a physician leader performing high quality, high impact science.”

Strauss and his research associates described for the first time intricate cellular processes involved in energy production in the heart. They have found genetic defects in cardiac energy-creating enzymes causing serious illness that often leads to sudden death or severe heart failure in affected children. One such discovery, of the single mutation that causes an enzyme insufficiency making it impossible to digest certain fats, led to a widely used screening method to detect this disorder in newborns and thus avoid infant deaths.

“There is no question that he is the best and the brightest we have in Pediatric Cardiology,” said Scott Baldwin, M.D., chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology and vice chair of laboratory sciences in Pediatrics. “Arnie is the reason I'm here at Vanderbilt. He is one of the best scientists, clinicians and teachers and is known for having the highest level of integrity in the field.”

Strauss earned his medical degree from the Washington University in St. Louis. He completed his residency and pediatric cardiology training at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Until he came to Vanderbilt in 2000, he was the director of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology at Washington University, St. Louis Children's Hospital.

Charles Canter, M.D., professor of Pediatrics at Washington University in St. Louis, serves on the AHA Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young, which nominated Strauss for the award.

“Arnie's research speaks for itself. That's why he was nominated for this award. He is one of the few pediatric cardiologists who is engaged in clinical care and advanced fundamental basic science in cardiology. His career exemplifies the importance of pediatric cardiologists in the mission of the American Heart Association,” Canter said.