A UC San Diego physician who conducted a 40-year study that uncovered cardiovascular disease risk factors won a major research prize, the American Heart Association announced Monday.
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Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, who has headed the Rancho Bernardo Heart and Chronic Disease Study for four decades, received the association's 2011 Population Research Prize.
Her research has resulted in a steady flow of studies identifying causes of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis, said Dr. Gordon F. Tomaselli, president of the AHA.
"Her voluminous findings have had an enormous positive impact on medical practice, probably more than those of any other population scientist," Tomaselli said. "Landmark studies led by her have affirmed the risks associated with elevated blood fats, obesity and cigarette smoking and found that diabetes poses a greater threat to women than to men."
Barrett-Connor, a member of the UCSD medical faculty since 1970 and chief of its Division of Epidemiology, led the largest cardiovascular disease prevention trial ever conducted in women who had cardiovascular disease or diabetes, according to the AHA.
Her Rancho Bernardo project has put more than 6,000 residents of the northern San Diego suburb through physical examinations of three to four hours since 1972 and included later follow ups with the subjects. More than 400 scientific papers have been based on the data.
Barrett-Connor was presented with the AHA award on Sunday at a conference in Orange County.
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