Two Tulane physicians awarded high honors from American Heart Association

The American Heart Association recently honored two Tulane University physicians, cardiologist Dr. Keith Ferdinand and epidemiology professor Dr. Paul Whelton, with national awards for their outstanding contribution to the field of cardiology and cardiovascular research.

The AHA’s Council on Clinical Cardiology presented Ferdinand with the 2019 James B. Herrick Award, which award honors a physician whose scientific achievements have contributed profoundly to the advancement and practice of clinical cardiology.

The Herrick Award, consisting of a medallion and citation, is conferred annually during the Council on Clinical Cardiology Annual Dinner and Business Meeting during the Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association.

Ferdinand, a professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine’s Heart and Vascular Institute, has conducted numerous clinical trials in cardiology, cardiovascular disease and risks factors, especially among patients in racial and ethnic minorities. He has published research in the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Journal of Clinical Hypertension, American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs and other distinguished journals.

Whelton received the American Heart Association (AHA) Distinguished Scientist Award, the organization's highest award in recognition of contributions by a cardiovascular disease researcher. The award honors scientists and clinicians whose work has importantly advanced the understanding of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Whelton was lead author of the 2017 comprehensive clinical guidelines for blood pressure management that redefined high blood pressure for the first time in 14 years. The new guidelines lowered the threshold for diagnosis, calling for more aggressive management of hypertension.

“The award is rarely offered to scientists from the areas of clinical trials and population science, Dr. Whelton’s focus areas,” said Dr. Daniel Jones, past president of the American Heart Association and former dean of medicine and chancellor of the University of Mississippi. “Dr. Whelton is the leading cardiovascular disease epidemiologist and clinical trialist of the last four decades. His scientific work and his policy leadership literally changed the definition of hypertension.”

The awards were presented during the AHA National Meeting in Philadelphia.