(Philadelphia, PA) – 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
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.
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