Public Release: 

BUSM professor selected as American Heart Association Distinguished Scientist

Boston University Medical Center

(Boston) - Kenneth Walsh, PhD, FAHA, the Aram V. Chobanian Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Director of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), has been named a 2011 American Heart Association (AHA) Distinguished Scientist. The AHA designated only five Distinguished Scientists for 2011.

The AHA created a Distinguished Scientist designation in 2003 to recognize science professional members who have made major and independent contributions that have advanced the understanding of cardiovascular and stroke research. This prestigious title is the highest bestowed upon a scientist.

Walsh is a leading figure in both cardiovascular and metabolic research fields. He has identified a secreted factors originating from the heart, fat tissue or skeletal muscle, established their functional significance in controlling inter-tissue communication within the cardiovascular system, and elucidated how these regulatory mechanisms are perturbed by obesity-linked metabolic dysfunction. These seminal studies have contributed to the emerging concept of adipokines and myokines as important contributing factors in cardio-metabolic disease.

Research in the Walsh laboratory focuses on signaling- and transcriptional-regulatory mechanisms that control normal and pathological tissue growth in the cardiovascular system. His studies examine how alterations in fat cell-secreted factors, referred to as adipokines, alter signaling within the cardiovascular system and thereby contribute to cardiovascular disease. To a varying degree, metabolic disorders afflict two of every three Americans and they represent a rapidly-growing threat to the health worldwide.

Studies by the Walsh laboratory were the first to show that adiponectin, an adipokine that is down-regulated in obesity, directly acts on the heart as a cardio-protective factor. Recently, his laboratory identified Sfrp5 as a new adipokine and demonstrated that it functions to control systemic metabolism through the regulation of inflammation within adipose tissue. Related studies in the Walsh laboratory examine how age-associated loss of skeletal muscle mass affects metabolic and cardiovascular function, and is exploring the possibility that muscle-secreted factors (myokines) confer some of the benefits of exercise training on cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

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