Miller School Researcher Triumphs at AHA Scientific Sessions

Adam R. Williams, M.D., resident in the Department of Surgery and post-doctoral research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute (ISCI), received the Vivien Thomas Young Investigator Award at the annual Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia (CVSA) dinner at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

The award, named in honor of Vivien T. Thomas, a key player in pioneering the anastomosis of the subclavian artery to the pulmonary artery required for the “blue baby” operations that introduced the field of cardiothoracic surgery, acknowledges the accomplishments of early-career investigators, who are focusing on fundamental and applied surgical research.

“I am extremely humbled and grateful that the American Heart Association has chosen me for this award,” said Williams. “Vivien Thomas was a pioneer in the field of cardiovascular surgery research, and receiving an award in honor of him is very special to me as a surgical resident.”

Dr. Williams’ presentation, “Synergistic Effect of Human Cardiac Stem Cells and Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells to Reduce Infarct Size and Restore Cardiac Function,” offers a novel approach to stem cell therapy for treating heart failure due to a previous heart attack.

In his experiment, Williams injected post-myocardial infarction swine with a combination of adult bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells and cardiac-derived stem cells, therapies that until now have only been tested alone.

The results were astounding and proved his hypothesis—the combination therapy resulted in a significant two-fold reduction in scar size, and diastolic function and left ventricular contractility also improved.

The findings are a substantial enhancement to stem cell-based therapy for the treatment of heart failure and will have important clinical implications.

Joshua M. Hare, M.D., Louis Lemberg Professor of Medicine, director of the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute, and the senior author on the study, lauded Williams’ achievement.

“This award is extremely competitive,” said Hare. “When you’re competing against the best and the brightest worldwide, it’s a real honor to win a national award like this, not just for Adam, but also for ISCI, the Department of Surgery and the Miller School. I am so proud. Adam’s conduct of the research was so outstanding and he is completely deserving of the award.”

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