LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The International Society for Heart Research (ISHR) has honored University of Louisville’s Roberto Bolli, M.D., for his contributions to cardiovascular science. The Peter Harris Distinguished Scientist Award, which recognizes a senior investigator for lifetime contributions of major discoveries in cardiovascular science, was presented to Bolli at the organization’s European Section meeting in Bordeaux, France earlier in July.
“This award is significant because it comes from an international community. I was chosen not by people I work more closely with in the United States, but by people from all over the world. It is truly an international recognition,” said Bolli, chief of UofL’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, director of the Institute of Molecular Cardiology and director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, as well as vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine.
The Peter Harris Distinguished Scientist Award is the most prestigious award presented by the ISHR, an international organization devoted to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge in the cardiovascular sciences on a world-wide basis. The ISHR’s 3,000 members are affiliated with seven sections based on five continents.
As recipient of the 2015 award, Bolli received a $3,000 honorarium and presented a keynote lecture at the meeting on July 2 on the state of cell-based therapies for ischemic cardiomyopathy. His research is focused on the use of stem cells to treat patients with coronary artery disease. Bolli led the Louisville-based SCIPIO trial that pioneered treatment with a patient’s own heart stem cells to regenerate dead heart muscle. Larger studies are underway which could lead to widespread use of this treatment.
“Smaller studies, including what we did in Louisville, have shown promise and the data are encouraging. We are awaiting final demonstration that the cells are truly beneficial in patients,” Bolli said.
Bolli also has conducted research on preventing damage caused during heart attacks by studying ischemic preconditioning, the phenomenon in which heart muscle exposed to brief periods of stress becomes resistant to the tissue death that might be caused by a heart attack.