The editors of the Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal are deeply grateful to Henry J. Pownall, Ph.D., and Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., M.D., D.Phil., for their guidance in creating this issue on lipids and cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Pownall is a professor of bioenergetics at the Houston Methodist Institute for Academic Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College and director of atherosclerosis and lipoprotein research at the Houston Methodist Research Institute. He earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Northeastern University, then completed postdoctoral fellowships in molecular spectroscopy at the University of Houston and biochemistry with an emphasis on lipid metabolism at Baylor College of Medicine. Eventually, his focus shifted from molecules to in vivo models involving lipid synthesis and enzymology, biophysics, peptide design, and cell and molecular biology. Dr. Pownall takes a multidisciplinary approach to research, collaborating with structural biologists, endocrinologists, and x-ray crystallographers to study high-density lipoprotein therapeutics and energy metabolism related to obesity-linked diabetes and human lipid metabolism. One of his most pressing research goals is to determine how alcohol ingestion contributes to enhanced postprandial lipemia, attendant pancreatitis, or alcohol-induced reduction of cardiovascular disease, an effect mediated by increased HDL-cholesterol.
Actively involved in academic medicine, Dr. Pownall teaches classes and serves on graduate advisory and qualifying exam committees for three graduate programs at Baylor College of Medicine, including Structural Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics, Cell and Molecular Biology, and Cardiovascular Sciences. He is equally active in community education, lecturing on molecular ethics to local organizations.
Dr. Gotto is dean emeritus of Weill Cornell Medical College and provost for Medical Affairs Emeritus of Cornell University, both in New York. After graduating with a medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, he completed his doctorate as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and his residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Before moving to New York, Dr. Gotto made his mark at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where he chaired the Department of Medicine, was scientific director of the DeBakey Heart Center, and held the J.S. Abercrombie Chair for Atherosclerosis and Lipoprotein Research. He also served as chief of the Internal Medicine Service at The Methodist Hospital and was later instrumental in creating the affiliation between Weill Cornell Medical College and Houston Methodist Hospital.
Dr. Gotto's extensive research focuses on atherosclerosis and reduction of cardiovascular disease risk, and he has spearheaded several landmark clinical trials demonstrating that cholesterol-lowering drug treatment can reduce the risk for heart disease. As a leader in lipid research, he has served as president of both the American Heart Association and the International Atherosclerosis Society. Currently, Dr. Gotto is president-elect of the National Lipid Association and a member of both the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of many honors, including the Gold Heart Award from the American Heart Association, the Distinguished Alumnus award from Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the National Lipid Association, among others.