This week, I had the pleasure to attend a portion of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 89th Annual Scientific Sessions in New Orleans. For five days, leaders in cardiovascular clinical practice and research surveyed the latest breakthroughs that are occurring in the field. More than 18,000 medical professionals from more than 100 countries attended, with an additional 2 million connecting virtually. Given its international profile, it is all the more impressive that so many members of the Department were invited to present. More than 30 colleagues from the University of Iowa, with a strong representation of faculty and trainees from our Department, delivered greater than 40 presentations. Iowa has had a strong and storied reputation in cardiovascular research and clinical care, which was on full display in New Orleans.
One of our junior faculty colleagues, Dr. Sailesh Harwani, Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, recently published as lead author a manuscript in the AHA’s flagship journal Circulation Research. In collaboration with other members of the Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center, Dr. Harwani’s study reveals the ways in which specific renal immune cells can be inflamed in response to nicotine, thus linking the activation of these cells to the development of hypertension. The paper shows that in rats, cholinergic activation occurred in concert with the expansion of specific populations of macrophages, leading to renal inflammation and early onset hypertension. By identifying the specific mechanisms in the development of hypertension, it may be possible in the future to identify potential therapeutic targets in the treatment or prevention of this increasingly prevalent disease.
We are nearly halfway through our Residency recruitment season, and I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Manish Suneja, our Residency Director, and to all of you who have volunteered to interview the outstanding applicants to our residency program. I understand that we have already interviewed nearly 130 applicants from every corner of the United States. Although we are off to a good start, much work remains to be done and we constantly need faculty volunteers to interview and recruit our next class of house officers. Recruiting takes place on Monday and Friday morning, through January 13. I encourage you to help with this important process; just a half-hour of your time will play an important role in identifying the very best candidates for our program. Please get in touch with Dr. Suneja or contact Cindy Batzkiel directly to sign up as an interviewer. I have every confidence that our combined efforts will produce yet another class as remarkable as the ones that have preceded.
Finally, I personally, and on behalf of the entire Department, extend my condolences once again to the family and friends of Dr. Richard Kerber. It has been more than a week since his loss, and we are missing his bright presence only more so. It has been encouraging to see the outpouring of stories and memories that have come from community members, students, and colleagues alike. Each story I hear or read conveys the same elements: the fundamental goodness and commitment to excellence that were at the center of Dick’s life. It is my hope that we all each take a spark of his compassionate brightness to carry with us on the road ahead.