Fifty Years of Cardiovascular Science Together
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Circulation Research began 50 years ago, as I entered medical school in St Louis, and we have grown up together. I have luckily worked during a golden age for cardiovascular medicine, when biological and engineering sciences have prospered and greatly benefited our patients. This remarkable half-century testifies to the power of science to promote health. It is a vindication of the commitment my colleagues and I made to medical science so long ago and a tribute to the mission of Circulation Research. I will trace some of the scientific milestones, reflected by my Cardiology career.
Having majored in history, I entered medical school in St Louis seriously deficient in science. I fortunately soon fell into the hands of Earl Sutherland, a physician who studied with Carl Cori and by 1952 was part of the Biochemistry faculty. He was trying to understand epinephrine action on glycogen metabolism, which subsequently led him to discover adenylyl cyclase and cAMP as the prototype “second messenger system,” winning the Nobel Prize in 1971. I worked half-time in his laboratory, purifying phosphorylase and absorbing his enthusiasm for science. During my second-year Pharmacology course, I was taught by Robert Furchgott, who received the Nobel Prize in 1998 for his work on nitric oxide. Medical school was exciting.
During internship interviews with the prestigious Chairmen of Medicine, I was surprised that they grilled me on my research, not my clinical skills. So I returned to school and with two other students embarked on my first independent research effort to develop an antibody to lupus protein for immunolocalization. I collected plasma from a patient with severe systemic lupus erythematosus by withdrawing whole blood and returning packed red cells. Surprisingly, the patient immediately went into remission, possibly the first therapeutic plasmapheresis.1 Several supportive faculty provided the resources I …