Penn researcher wins awards from two major cardiovascular research organizations

November 14, 2005

Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, a Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has won the first-ever American Heart Association Population Research Prize. She received the prestigious national distinction for her continued tireless efforts in a career devoted to the prevention of heart disease, stroke and related disorders.

The new award was presented to Kumanyika today (November 13th) at the annual Scientific Sessions of the AHA in Dallas, Texas. This award is to recognize and reward an individual who is making outstanding contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular science and who currently heads an outstanding cardiovascular population research laboratory. The prize consists of a citation and an honorarium of $5,000.

Additionally, Kumanyika received the 2005 Dr. Herbert W. Nickens Epidemiology Award from the Association of Black Cardiologists, Inc (ABC). She was honored during a luncheon associated with the ABC Congress on Saturday, November 12th, also in Dallas, Texas. This award was created to honor outstanding achievement in epidemiologic research in the area of cardiovascular disease.

Kumanyika, who is the Associate Dean for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has trained a generation of scientists and devoted her life to the prevention of heart disease and stroke. Her research focuses on the role of nutritional factors in the primary and secondary prevention of chronic diseases, with a particular focus on obesity, sodium reduction and related health problems such as hypertension and diabetes.

She has been the principal investigator or co-investigator of major randomized clinical trials of dietary changes in modifying cardiovascular risk factors. Her studies involve developing and evaluating culturally appropriate interventions to prevent or treat obesity among African-Americans in clinical or community settings.

"I see the creation of this (AHA Population Research) prize as both a coming of age and a challenge for population-oriented research to fight heart disease and stroke," comments Kumanyika. "This award is a coming of age because it puts an ultimate finishing touch on the AHA's commitment to see population science as a critical dimension in the bigger picture of cardiovascular research. It is a challenge because of the bigger picture. Population research addresses the impossible to control, difficult to modify, socially fluctuating and all too political reality that determines: who develops heart disease and stroke; whose risks are identified early versus late; who is treated; and who is ultimately able to achieve the potential for longevity and high quality of life."

Kumanyika further adds, "The disparities in cardiovascular disease are so vivid and so longstanding that, we know, unfortunately, almost without having to count, that African Americans for example, or people with low incomes will have more heart disease and stroke and be more likely to die from it. I look forward to the day when the recipient of this award can say that we have remedied this situation."

Kumanyika has a unique interdisciplinary background that integrates epidemiology, nutrition, prevention, minority health, aging, and women's health issues. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she holds a B.A. from Syracuse University, Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University, Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from Cornell University, and Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

She has served the American Heart Association in many roles over the last two decades, including as a spokesperson on diet and related health issues, as chair of the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and as a member of the national Board of Directors.
Editor's Note:

For more information on Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika, go on-line to:

PENN Medicine is a $2.7 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is consistently ranked one of the nation's few "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

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