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US award recognizes outstanding Robarts geneticist

London, ON – April 30, 2004 – Robarts Scientist Dr Robert Hegele has earned a place among a prestigious group as the first Canadian-based recipient of a key research award from the Dallas-based American Heart Association.

Dr Hegele, director of the Blackburn Laboratory for Cardiovascular Genetics at Robarts Research Institute, has been recognized for his outstanding contribution in the area of arteriosclerosis and vascular disease with the 2004 Jeffrey M Hoeg arteriosclerosis, thrombosis and vascular biology award for basic science and clinical research. He will be presented with the award at an AHA conference in San Francisco on May 8.

The AHA award honors the late Dr Jeffrey M Hoeg, a cardiovascular researcher and key official at the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. Previous recipients include prominent researchers from Harvard University, the University of California and the University of Washington.

"This a real honour for me, particularly as Jeff Hoeg was such a key figure in cardiovascular research. He was both a role model and a mentor for me when I was training in the States," says Dr Hegele, an endocrinologist and geneticist whose lab at Robarts has discovered the molecular genetic basis of eight human diseases and identified more than 80 human mutations contributing to premature cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Last month Dr Hegele received the Hellmuth Prize, the University of Western Ontario’s top research award. In 2002, he earned the Canadian Diabetes Association Great West Life/London Life Young Scientist Award and one of his discoveries was named one of the top 10 research advances for 2001 by the AHA. Dr Hegele also holds the Edith Schulich Vinet Canada Research Chair in Human Genetics and is professor of medicine and biochemistry at Western.

Recruited from Toronto in 1997, Dr Hegele holds memberships in many professional societies and serves on several grants panels, committees, organizations and editorial boards. He has published more than 260 research papers and has presented at over 100 national and international conferences.