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Becomes Lab Research Director
NHLBI's Balaban To Give Mider Lecture, Feb. 2 in Masur

This year's G. Burroughs Mider Lecture will be given by NHLBI's Dr. Robert Balaban, a leading researcher in heart physiology and energy metabolism. He pioneered the use of noninvasive imaging techniques to study these processes within the cell and in heart muscle. He also helped design a super-fast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, which gives real-time pictures of the moving heart. Prior MRI scanners gave heart images too slowly to be of clinical use. The super-fast scanner is being tested in a joint NIH-Suburban Hospital pilot study to see if it can improve emergency diagnosis of heart attack and stroke.

Balaban has long served as chief of NHLBI's Laboratory of Cardiac Energetics and recently became director of the Laboratory Research Program in NHLBI's Division of Intramural Research. Last summer, the institute reorganized its intramural division into two programs. Dr. Elizabeth Nabel directs the division's other program, called the Clinical Research Program.

Balaban will present the Mider lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. in the Clinical Center's Masur Auditorium. Acting NIH director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein will provide the introduction.

Dr. Robert Balaban

The lecture was created by the NIH scientific directors in 1968 to commemorate Mider's distinguished career, which included a term as director of NIH laboratories and clinics. It is awarded to scientists who have made outstanding contributions to NIH biomedical research.

Balaban will speak about the "Domestication of the Mitochondrion for Cellular Energy Conversion." Mitochondria apparently were incorporated into early cellular organisms millions of years ago through a symbiotic process. Through time, the cell has developed a sophisticated cytosolic control network to regulate the production of adenosine triphosphate, on demand, from the mitochondrion for numerous cellular functions.

Using minimally invasive nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and optical imaging devices, Balaban has been studying this basic cellular signaling pathway that controls mitochondrial function. These studies have been performed at many levels of complexity, including the in vivo heart, single myocytes and isolated mitochondria.

Balaban earned a B.S. in 1975 in chemistry and biology from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. in 1979 in physiology and pharmacology from Duke University. While at Duke, he began his optical studies on mitochondrial function. The next year, he became a NATO postdoctoral fellow at Oxford University in England, where he participated in many of the first experiments applying NMR to the study of living tissues.

In 1981, he joined NHLBI as a senior staff fellow in the Laboratory of Kidney and Electrolyte Metabolism (LKEM). In 1982, he became a senior staff fellow and then in 1984 a research physiologist, both in LKEM.

His honors include an Award for Excellence in Renal Research from the American Physiological Society, a PHS Superior Service Award, the Society of Magnetic Resonance Gold Medal, and two NIH Director's Awards.

His professional memberships include the American Physiological Society, the American Society of Nephrology and the Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, of which he served as president.

He has coauthored 190 peer-reviewed papers and more than 600 abstracts, and participated in and helped organize various professional meetings.

For more information about Balaban's Mider Lecture, call Hilda Madine at 594-5595.


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