It has been a busy fall for Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D., chair and Sterling Professor of Genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. In October, Lifton received the 2006 Robert Tigerstedt Award at the 21st Scientific Meeting of the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) in Fukuoka, Japan. A month later, he delivered the first Donald Seldin Lecture at Scientific Sessions 2006, the annual national meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA), held this year in Chicago.
The Tigerstedt Award is named in honor of a Finnish scientist who discovered renin, a kidney enzyme involved in high blood pressure. The prize is the highest scientific award of the ISH, and is presented at each biennial meeting “to honor a scientist or physician for outstanding achievements in the field of hypertension.”
Lifton was cited by the society for his identification of genetic mutations that govern human blood pressure by affecting how the kidneys handle salt. By investigating families from around the world, Lifton’s research team has identified mutations in seven genes that raise blood pressure, and eight that lower blood pressure.
The AHA lectureship was established this year to honor Donald W. Seldin, M.D., William Buchanan Chair in Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Seldin, a 1943 graduate of Yale School of Medicine, served as an assistant professor at Yale until 1951, when he left for UT Southwestern, then a fledgling medical school with rudimentary facilities.
Over the next 35 years, Seldin was a central figure in UT Southwestern’s rise into the ranks of the world’s most elite research institutions.
Along the way, Seldin made seminal scientific observations on salt and potassium transport in the kidney, and he has been a leader in understanding the relationships between renal and cardiovascular diseases. Fittingly, Lifton’s lecture in Chicago was entitled “Molecular Genetics of Cardiovascular Risks: The Kidney as the Cause of Hypertension.”
A member of the Yale faculty since 1993, Lifton is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.
He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research. These include the highest scientific awards of several other organizations, including the AHA, the American Society of Nephrology, the American Society of Hypertension and the Council for High Blood Pressure Research, as well as the Pasarow Foundation Award for Medical Research.