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Temple’s Steven Houser PhD, FAHA, Recognized by the American Heart Association for Career Contributions to Cardiovascular Research
November 20, 2013
Steven R. Houser, PhD, FAHA, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) at Temple University School of Medicine, has been studying the heart for nearly three and a half decades. Over that time, he has made significant contributions to cardiovascular research, work that led to his recent recognition with two prestigious honors from the American Heart Association (AHA) – the Basic Cardiovascular Science (BCVS) Council Distinguished Achievement Award and the Thomas W. Smith Memorial Lecture Award. Dr. Houser received the awards at the AHA Scientific Sessions 2013 meeting held Nov. 16‒20 in Dallas, Texas.
"It's an honor," Dr. Houser said of being chosen as the recipient of the two awards, which are given to top scientists who have committed their careers to cardiovascular science and fulfilling the aims of the AHA.
"Steve has been a leader for his whole career in advancing our understanding of how calcium regulates the beating of the heart cell," said Walter J. Koch, PhD, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at Temple University School of Medicine (TUSM). "His data has guided a generation of scientists in probing mechanisms for why the heart fails. He has stayed on the cutting-edge of this field for over 25 years, and now he is delving into why calcium can also harm the heart and is active in pursuit of novel regenerative pathways to repair the failing heart."
"This excellence has not gone unnoticed by colleagues at the AHA," Dr. Koch added.
Dr. Houser began his influential career when he joined the faculty at Temple in 1978. He received his first AHA grant two years later. "At the time, not much was known about how heart cells work," Dr. Houser explained.
But Dr. Houser quickly positioned himself at the leading edge of basic cardiovascular research by exploring—and answering—fundamental questions about heart cell function. He investigated reasons why the heart does not function properly in diseases such as hypertension and ischemic heart failure, which results from an insufficient flow of oxygen to the heart muscle. And he tested novel approaches to the prevention and treatment of those conditions. He made major advances in the scientific understanding of fundamental cardiac function, and he identified molecular defects that contribute to cardiac dysfunction.
Dr. Houser's research and his recruitment of key researchers to Temple contributed to the establishment of its reputation as a leader in cardiovascular research. Importantly, he worked to create the CVRC, which opened in 2003, and which he has directed since that time. He also was instrumental in the recruitment of Dr. Koch, who, along with Dr. Houser's assistance, developed the Center for Translational Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine, which Dr. Koch now directs.
Most recently, Dr. Houser and his team have explored ways to repair damaged heart tissue using cell therapy—research that led to the discovery that bone-derived stem cells are better at regenerating heart tissue than the heart's own stem cells. His team's paper on that breakthrough, which was published online in June 2013 in Circulation Research, is now among the journal's most downloaded papers. Because of its success, Dr. Houser was invited to deliver a talk on the research at Scientific Sessions 2013.
The BCVS Distinguished Achievement Award and the Thomas W. Smith Memorial Lecture Award were given to Dr. Houser for his research accomplishments, but he has also devoted much time to the AHA. For 2013‒2014 he is Chairperson of the AHA Research Committee, which reviews, selects, and funds research grants, and is on the organization's Board of Directors.
Dr. Houser delivered the Thomas W. Smith Memorial Lecture the morning of Nov. 18.
In addition to directing Temple's Cardiovascular Research Center, Dr. Houser is Chairperson of the Department of Physiology, the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Physiology, and a Professor of Medicine at TUSM.
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