David Harrison is the Betty and Jack Bailey Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University and Director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology. He obtained his M.D. degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1974 and then received internal medicine and cardiology training at Duke University. He performed a research fellowship at the University of Iowa Cardiovascular Center from 1980 to 1982. In 1982, he joined the faculty at Iowa where he remained until 1990, when he moved to Emory University. While at Emory, he served as Director of the Cardiology Division from 2000 to 2009. In 2011, Dr. Harrison moved to his current position at Vanderbilt.
Dr. Harrison’s research has focused on understanding how diseases like hypertension and hypercholesterolemia alter vascular function and he has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1982. He was among the first to show that common diseases such as hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis alter endothelium-dependent vasodilatation. In 1987, he and his colleagues published the first paper showing that endothelial function could be improved by dietary correction of hypercholesterolemia. He subsequently showed that a major cause of altered vascular function in diseases such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and diabetes is an increase in vascular superoxide production. His group initially characterized the NADPH oxidase as a source of radicals in hypertension. In recent years, he and his colleagues have made the seminal discovery that the adaptive immune system plays an important role in the genesis of experimental hypertension. His work has shown that T cells with an effector phenotype enter the vessel wall and release cytokines that promote vasoconstriction, vascular remodeling and vascular stiffening. Subsequent work has identified a novel post-translational modification of self-proteins within antigen presenting cells that leads to formation of neoantigens that promote T cell activation in hypertension.
Dr. Harrison has previously served as the Chairman of the American Heart Association Circulation Council and the Council on Basic Science and he has chaired the NIH Experimental Cardiovascular Sciences study section. Dr. Harrison is a past president of the Association of University Cardiologists and a member of the American Association of Physicians.
Dr. Harrison has received substantial recognition for his research contributions. He delivered the George Brown Memorial Lecture to the 1995 American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, the Sir George Pickering Lecture to the British Hypertension Society in 2001, the Robert Furchgott Lecture at the International symposium on Mechanisms of Vasodilatation in 2002 and the Robert M. Berne Distinguished Lecture to Experimental Biology Meeting in 2002. In 2003, he received the Basic Science Distinguished Achievement Award from the Basic Science Council of the American Heart Association. He received the Novartis Award from the High Blood Pressure Council of the AHA for outstanding hypertension research in 2004. He was awarded the Carl J. Wiggers Award of the Cardiovascular Section of the American Physiological Society in 2010. In 2010 he also received the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Heart Association. In 2012, he received the Irvine Page Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Society of Hypertension.
Dr. Harrison also serves as an Attending Cardiologist at Vanderbilt and is involved in both house staff and medical student mentoring.
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