Penn cardiovascular disease and translational medicine expert elected to Italian Academy of Science

PHILADELPHIA–Garret FitzGerald, MD, FRS, a professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and an international leader in cardiovascular disease research, has been elected as a foreign member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Lincean Academy) – the Italian Academy of Science in Rome.

Founded in 1603, the Accademia is named in honor of the lynx, whose legendary vision epitomizes the astute skills of observation demanded by good science. It is the oldest national academy of science. Its pantheon of members includes Galileo, the Italian physicist, mathematician, and astronomer; Albert Einstein, the renowned theoretical physicist; Enrico Fermi, creator of the world's first nuclear reactor; Louis Pasteur, who developed vaccination and pasteurization; Werner Heisenberg, a pioneer of quantum mechanics; and Max Planck, who discovered energy quanta.

FitzGerald, who is also the director of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics (ITMAT) at Penn, is a leading light in the field of translational medicine, which shepherds basic scientific discoveries into new therapies for patients. He has developed a formidable record of pioneering investigations, ranging from pinpointing the benefits of low-dose aspirin for heart health to warning of the dangers of anti-inflammatory medications known as COX-2 inhibitors – most commonly known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or aspirin and ibuprofen. His groundbreaking research contributed in a fundamental way to the development of the treatment approach of using low-dose aspirin alone or with thrombolytic drugs to reduce cardiovascular death in patients who have suffered a heart attack or stroke.

His team was also the first to predict and then expose the mechanism by which drugs such as Celebrex and Vioxx can put some patients at cardiovascular risk. They were also the first to discover the existence of a molecular clock in the cardiovascular system. Circadian rhythms also contribute to variations in absorption rates of medications–affecting both their benefits and side effects. Among his current projects, FitzGerald is investigating how the body's master clock regulates molecular clocks throughout the vascular system.

FitzGerald has received many awards for his research. the Boyle, Coakley, Harvey, and St. Patrick's Day medals; is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the German National Academy of Sciences, an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy, a fellow of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the Royal Society. Election to the Lyncei is a particular pleasure for FitzGerald who maintains a residence in Trastevere, close to the home of the Academy in Rome.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $7.8 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $405 million awarded in the 2017 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center — which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report — Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital – the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, a leading provider of highly skilled and compassionate behavioral healthcare.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2017, Penn Medicine provided $500 million to benefit our community.

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