2003 Prize Winners

Jay N. Cohn, John K. Kjekshus

Jay N. Cohn , MD, Professor of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, Departement of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis


Jay N. Cohn

Jay N. Cohn MD is Professor of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Dr. Cohn received his MD from Cornell University Medical School in 1956 and completed his internship and residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He served as a fellow in cardiovascular research and as a clinical investigator at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital and Georgetown University from 1960 to 1965. He was Chief of Hypertension and Clinical Hemodynamics at the VA Hospital from 1965 to 1974 and Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University. Dr. Cohn was Head of the Cardiovascular Division at the University of Minnesota from 1974 to 1996. He is currently Director of the Rasmussen Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention.

Dr. Cohn is internationally recognized for his contributions to our understanding of cardiovascular disease and for his leadership in designing and carrying out clinical trials to document efficacy of new interventions for heart failure. He has been identified as the father of contemporary management of heart failure and one of the world's leading cardiologists.

Dr. Cohn has pioneered in assessment of cardiovascular function in patients with hypertension, shock, acute myocardial infarction and heart failure. He was the first to advocate vasodilator therapy for heart failure, including nitroprusside, nitrates with hydralazine and converting enzyme inhibitors. He organized and chaired the first long-term trials in heart failure, the Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study Program on vasodilator therapy of heart failure (V-HeFT). Dr. Cohn was one of the first to advocate bedside hemodynamic monitoring in acutely ill individuals and was the first to identify the syndrome of right ventricular infarction. He was among the first to identify neurohormonal activation as a key contributor to the progression of heart failure and to set the stage for neurohormonal inhibiting therapy. His animal and clinical studies have established the importance of structural remodeling of the left ventricle as the basis for the progression of heart failure and for the therapeutic response to drugs that prolong life and reduce long-term morbidity. In recent years he has focused on efforts at early identification of cardiovascular disease in order to initiate therapy before organ system disease develops. His innovative efforts at early detection have included screening to diagnose stiffening of the small arteries, utilizing a methodology he developed at the University of Minnesota which is now FDA-approved and marketed worldwide.

Dr. Cohn founded the Heart Failure Society of America and served as the first president of this society, which is now the largest organization in the world of health professionals dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure. He also founded and served as editor-in-chief of the first journal dedicated to heart failure, the Journal of Cardiac Failure, which is now one of the most frequently cited cardiovascular journals. He is the author of more than 600 scientific publications and has written extensively on circulatory physiology, hypertension, congestive heart failure and its treatment, nervous system control mechanisms in heart failure, and vascular compliance. He holds a number of patents, including those related to pulsewave analysis for the measurement of arterial elasticity and use of hydralazine and isosrbide dinitrate for the treatment of heart failure. He serves on the editorial boards of many of the major journals in the field. He is co-editor of the cardiology text, Cardiovascular Medicine, and editor of the textbook, Drug Treatment of Heart Failure.

Dr. Cohn is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a member of the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation as well as many other professional societies. He is a Past President of the Heart Failure Society of America, the International Society of Hypertension, and the American Society of Hypertension and has served as an officer of the American Heart Association and the American Federation for Clinical Research. He served as chairman of the Cardiorenal Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration and has served on a number of government boards and committees.

Dr. Cohn has been the recipient of a number of awards including the Arthur S. Flemming Award, the Distinguished Service Award of the American Heart Association, the AHA Scientific Councils' Distinguished Achievement Award, the Novartis Award for Hypertension Research, the William S. Harvey Award, and the Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton Award. He has presented numerous honorary lectures around the world and has served as visiting professor at many universities here and abroad.


John K. Kjekshus, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Department of Cardiology, Rikshospitalet, University of Oslo, Oslo have been selected by the judging panel as the winners of the 2003 edition of the Prize.


John K. Kjekshus

John K. Kjekshus MD, PhD is professor of Medicine, Department of Cardiology, Rikshospitalet, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Dr Kjekshus got his MD from the University of Oslo in 1960 and completed his internship at the Porsgrun Hospitals. He became a fellow in renal and cardiovascular physiology at the Institute for Experimental Medical Research at Ullevål Hospital in Oslo from 1962 to 1968. He was a Fogarthy Research Fellow at University of California, San Diego from 1968 to 1970.

He served as an associate professor at the Institute for Experimental Medical Research institute from 1970 to 1972. He trained in clinical cardiology at the Ullevål and Rikshosptalet in Oslo from 1972 to 1979.

Dr Kjekshus was head of Medicine and chief of Cardiology at Bærum Hospital from 1979 to 1992. In 1992 he was appointed professor of Medicine and chief of Cardiology at the Rikshospitalet and currently he is the Academic head of the Department Group of Clinical Medicine, The Medical Faculty, University of Oslo.

Dr Kjekshus is recognized for his contributions to the understanding of ischemic heart disease and for being instrumental in planning, designing and conducting prospective clinical trials implementing hypothesis developed from animal research. He pioneered methods to assess infarct size, which were used to define mechanisms of benefit to the ischemic myocardium. His PhD was on "Factors influencing infarct size following coronary artery occlusion".

He demonstrated the importance of reducing myocardial energy requirement by heart rate reduction in experimental animals and as a physiological adaptation in diving seals. The results were successfully translated into clinical controlled trials with beta adrenergic blockade. He organized and chaired the first prospective clinical trial to demonstrate that ACE inhibitors improved the prognosis in patients with severe heart failure and in a more recent trial that ACE inhibitors stands the test against newer angiotensin receptor blockers. These studies demonstrated the importance of neurohormonal rather than hemodynamic adjustments.

His animal and clinical studies also established the adrenergic activation of free fatty acids as a contributor to excess energy requirement in the myocardium and potential target for therapy. He chaired the first trial to demonstrate beyond doubts the benefit of lowering cholesterol and modifying lipoproteins on overall survival in patients with coronary heart disease.

Dr Kjekshus is a co founder of the Working Group on Heart Failure in the European Society of Cardiology. He is the author of more than 250 scientific publications and has written widely on the regulation of coronary and myocardial blood flow, treatment of coronary heart disease and congestive heart failure. He has been interested in the metabolic effects of magnesium depletion and more recently has investigated the inflammatory responses during heart failure as a target for therapeutic interventions. He has also served on the board of several scientific journals. He has been visiting scientist and professor to several international Universities and presented numerous lectures abroad.

Dr Kjekshus is a Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology, the Norwegian Cardiological Society. He is voted member to the Norwegian Academy of Sciences. He is a past president of the Norwegian Cardiological Society. He has served on several professional, scientific and governmental boards and committees.

Dr Kjekshus has twice been the recipient of His Majesty's Gold Medal for Scientific Work, and received the Ole Storsteins Award for Scientific Achievement and the Norwegian Heart Association' Distinguished Achievement Award.

He is Honorary Member of the Norwegian Cardiological Society and of the Danish Cardiological Society.