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Cardiologist Elizabeth Nabel Named NHLBI Director

Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel has been named director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Previously scientific director of clinical research in the NHLBI intramural program, she began her appointment Feb. 1.

Nabel will oversee an annual budget of almost $3 billion and a staff of approximately 850 employees.

Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel

"As a cardiologist and internationally renowned researcher, Dr. Nabel brings a well-rounded scientific background and strong management skills to this position," said NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni, who announced the appointment. "She has championed the concept from 'bench to bedside.' This effort to bring research advances into clinical practice continues to be a focus of the NHLBI and of NIH."

Nabel is a board-certified cardiologist who has taken care of many patients with cardiovascular disease. She joined NHLBI in 1999 as scientific director of clinical research. Among her accomplishments in that role, she initiated a cardiothoracic surgery branch. She also began a program to investigate genetic variation among patients with vascular diseases. Nabel has also served as chief of the vascular biology section, directing research on the molecular, cellular and genetic mechanisms that cause vascular disorders. Her lab, which has published more than 200 papers, has studied factors involved in the regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell growth and vascular inflammation. This research has opened up new avenues for therapeutic targets for vascular diseases. Nabel will maintain her lab, which will be housed at NHGRI beginning in October.

"I am honored to lead the NHLBI," she said. "The institute has a long and distinguished record in support of research on heart, lung, blood and sleep diseases. As we look to the future, there are unprecedented opportunities to advance our understanding of these diseases and to improve upon the care and treatment of the millions of people affected by them. The NHLBI will strive to address these challenges through a research agenda that builds upon innovation, creativity and the most advanced biomedical technologies."

A native of Minneapolis, Nabel received her medical education at Cornell University Medical College before moving to Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University where she completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and a clinical and research fellowship in cardiovascular medicine. She joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1987 as an assistant professor of medicine and rose through the ranks, becoming director of the Cardiovascular Research Center in 1992, professor of internal medicine and physiology in 1994, and director of the division of cardiology in 1997. While at Michigan, she became known for her research in the field of vascular biology and molecular cardiology and for her gene transfer studies of the cardiovascular system.

Nabel has earned numerous awards including the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Heart Association and the Amgen-Scientific Achievement Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She is an editorial board member of the New England Journal of Medicine and has been a reviewing editor for Science and an editorial board member of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Nabel has served on the board of directors of the American Heart Association and has served as chair of the scientific publishing committee and the atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology council. She is a past president of the North American Vascular Biology Organization and councilor of the American Society of Clinical Investigation.

Since Dr. Claude Lenfant's retirement in 2003, NHLBI has been led by acting director Dr. Barbara Alving. She will return to her position as deputy director, a job she has held since 2001.
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