November 26, 2003

American Heart Association Cites Elizabeth Barrett-Connor With 2003 Research Achievement Award

Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, M.D.

Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, M.D., University of California, San Diego (UCSD) professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and chief of the Division of Epidemiology, received the 2003 Research Achievement Award from the American Heart Association (AHA) during the organizationís annual Scientific Sessions November 10, 2003 in Orlando, Florida.

Barrett-Connor was cited for her discoveries identifying critical indicators of cardiovascular disease risk and for clinical research having a direct impact on preventive care. The AHA has presented the award annually since 1953 to recognize distinguished scientific accomplishment in cardiovascular research.

A citation accompanying the award lauds Barrett-Connor for her more than three decades as a ďpre-eminent leader in discerning patterns of human heart and blood vessel maladies. During her distinguished and productive career, she has changed American medicine perhaps more than any other single epidemiologist, amassing in more than 600 publications definitive data that have been used to extend life and improve its quality.Ē

Barrett-Connor is founder and director of the Rancho Bernardo Heart and Chronic Disease Study, now in its 30th year, which has produced data defining causal factors for diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis as well as cardiovascular disease. Her research has focused on healthy aging and gender differences in disease, with strong emphasis on womenís health. She is principal investigator of the largest cardiovascular disease prevention trial ever conducted in women.

One of the first scientists to examine diabetes as a risk factor for heart disease, Barrett-Connor found that the blood-sugar metabolism disorder poses a greater risk to women than to men. She also was one of the first to question the validity of earlier observational studies (including her own) indicating that hormone replacement therapy protects the female heart. Her challenge to conventional wisdom, ultimately validated by Womenís Health Initiative findings that overall risks of therapy outweigh benefits for chronic diseases, reflects a career-long dedication to confirming epidemiological observations in randomized clinical trials.

A native of Evanston, Illinois, Barrett-Connor received her M.D. degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1960. After internship and residency training in Dallas and Miami, she earned a Diploma in Clinical Medicine of the Tropics from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She taught at the University of Miami School of Medicine for five years before joining the UCSD School of Medicine in 1970. She has been chief of the Division of Epidemiology since 1974. From 1981 to 1997, she chaired the UCSD Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

Among her many previous honors are the Raine Distinguished Visitorís Award of the University of Western Australia; the Fred Murgatroyd Prize of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; the American Diabetes Associationís Kelly West Memorial Award, and the Outstanding Educator Award of the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine. The AHA has recognized Barrett-Connorís decades of stellar volunteer leadership by presenting her the Gold Heart Award, the Award of Meritorious Achievement, and the Distinguished Service Award of the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. A past chair of that council, she led task forces studying aspects of aging and womenís health, and she is co-author of the Associationís Scientific Statement on Cardiovascular Disease in Women. In 1995 the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention established an Investigator-in-Training Award in Barrett-Connorís name.

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