The American Heart Association launches new annual award honoring pioneer cardiologist and researcher Nanette K. Wenger, M.D., FAHA
DALLAS, May 11, 2021 — The American Heart Association is pleased to announce the new Dr. Nanette K. Wenger Award for Best Scientific Publication on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke in Women to recognize and honor her pioneering career in cardiovascular medicine. Nanette K. Wenger, M.D., FAHA, is an emeritus professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine, consultant to the Emory Heart and Vascular Center, founding consultant to the Emory Women’s Heart Center and director of the Cardiac Clinics and Ambulatory Electrocardiographic Laboratory at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
All authors submitting manuscripts focused on cardiovascular disease and stroke in women in one of the American Heart Association’s 12 scientific journals will have the option to select their manuscript for consideration for the Dr. Nanette K. Wenger Award. Authors of manuscripts who self-identify as members of an under-represented race or ethnic group are encouraged to apply. Publications including structural and social determinants of health, policy, computational biology and engineering are highly encouraged. The AHA’s Research Goes Red Research and Publications Sub-Committee, and additional experts as needed, will serve as peer-reviewers to select the winner of the Dr. Nanette K. Wenger Award. Submissions for the 2022 Award will open June 1, 2021 and remain open through May 29, 2022. The inaugural award will be awarded during this year’s American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, November 13-15, 2021.
“Dr. Wenger’s name is practically synonymous with women’s cardiovascular research and care – she has been a formidable leader in the field of women’s heart health and a strong ally and advocate for women in cardiology and medicine. This award recognizes her incredible legacy of paving the way, supporting and mentoring women as scientists and medical professionals, as well as her pioneering efforts in cardiovascular disease research about, for and by women,” said American Heart Association President Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAAN, FAHA. “The new Dr. Nanette K. Wenger Award will serve as an inspiration for continued innovation and discovery in research on cardiovascular disease and stroke in women. I think it will continue to motivate the current generation of scientists and medical professionals and many more generations to follow.”
Dr. Wenger has been at the forefront of advancing patient care for the last 60-plus years, and she was among the first physicians to focus on coronary heart disease in women and to evaluate the different cardiovascular risk factors, symptoms and conditions for women compared to men. She noticed that women were coming into the clinic with heart disease in large numbers, and, unable to find existing studies on women’s heart disease symptoms and their treatment, she decided to investigate. She and her colleagues discovered that women have different heart attack symptoms than men, and those symptoms were often dismissed or misdiagnosed by doctors.
Her clinical and research efforts led to the critical knowledge that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S., accounting for about 1 in every 5 female deaths. These findings have resulted in increased awareness, public health efforts and research about the significant risks of CVD for women, saving countless lives.
Dr. Wenger is actively practicing at Emory University School of Medicine, and she continues to promote and conduct gender-specific cardiology research. Her work includes the connection between pregnancy complications and cardiovascular disease and the possibility that certain breast cancer treatments are linked to heart failure.
Together with colleagues at Grady, she also led the development of a 21-day cardiac rehabilitation program for patients after myocardial infarction (heart attack), which became a model for programs across the country. In stark contrast, the standard of care at the time was for patients to be confined to bed rest for six months and not allowed to return to work for at least one year after a heart attack. Today, the hospital stay after a heart attack has decreased dramatically, and nearly all cardiac rehabilitation is delivered after hospital discharge – either remotely or through in-person programs.
Dr. Wenger earned a Bachelor of Arts from Hunter College, summa cum laude. She was one of the first women to graduate with a doctorate in medicine at Harvard Medical School, and in 1956, she was the first woman to be named chief resident in cardiology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She later moved to Atlanta and completed her fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Wenger has been on staff at Grady Memorial Hospital and at Emory University since 1959, and she served as the chief of cardiology at Grady Memorial Hospital from 1998 to 2009.
Dr. Wenger has received numerous awards for her outstanding achievements throughout her career. Notably, she was an author of the American Heart Association’s 2007 Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease in Women, and she has been recognized with numerous awards from the Association. Her awards include the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Scientific Councils of the American Heart Association; the AHA Women in Cardiology Mentoring Award; the James D. Bruce Memorial Award of the American College of Physicians for distinguished contributions in preventive medicine; the Gold Heart Award, the highest award of the American Heart Association; a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009; the Inaugural Bernadine Healy Leadership in Women’s CV Disease Distinguished Award of the American College of Cardiology; and, most recently, the 2020 Eugene Braunwald Academic Mentorship Award.
In October 2020, she was featured in The Hill newspaper’s special tribute, “The Century of the Woman: 100 Women Who Have Helped Shape America.” She chaired the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Conference on Cardiovascular Health and Disease in Women. She also chaired the World Health Organization’s Expert Committee on Rehabilitation after Cardiovascular Disease and co-chaired the Guideline Panel on Cardiac Rehabilitation for the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. She is a past president of the Society of Geriatric Cardiology and was editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Geriatric Cardiology for more than 15 years. She has been involved with WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease since its inception, and The Wenger Awards, are given in her name.
The Dr. Nanette K. Wenger Award is sponsored by AHA’s Research Goes Red. Research Goes Red aims to empower researchers to contribute to women’s health research. Cardiovascular disease continues to be a woman’s greatest health threat, claiming the lives of 1 in 3. That’s a third of our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, neighbors, and loved ones. Research Goes Red is a collaboration between consumers contributing to health research, the American Heart Association volunteers and health experts and Verily with its leading tools and technologies. In the past, clinical studies have not been adequately inclusive of women or analyzed women-specific heart health data, yet that is the best way to improve care and prevent heart disease. Together, we aim to change these statistics and help save the women we love.
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