Institut de France awards 2013 Grand Prix Scientifique to Penn Medicine researcher

Garret FitzGerald MD, FRS, chairman of the Pharmacology Department and director of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, has been awarded the 2013 Grand Prix Scientifique by the Institut de France.

FitzGerald shares the prize with Carlo Patrono MD, chairman of Pharmacology at the Catholic University, Rome. The award is based on the recommendation of the International Scientific Council of the Board of Directors of the Lefoulon-Delalande Foundation, Paris. The prize will be awarded under the presidency of the Chancellor of the Institut de France and the President of the French Academy of Sciences on June 5th, 2013. The Grand Prix Lefoulon-Delalande, valued at 500,000 euros ($650,000) is one of the largest prizes for scientific accomplishment and is considered the world's most prestigious prize for cardiovascular research.

FitzGerald and Patrono share the prize for their development of low-dose aspirin for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Their work used novel approaches to assess the formation of short-lived fats in the body called prostaglandins that play a key role in the development of blood clotting. They discovered how lower doses of aspirin than had been previously used to treat pain and inflammation act on blood cells called platelets to shut down their role in blocking arteries to cause heart attacks and strokes. Low-dose aspirin is now used for this purpose throughout the world and has saved the lives of tens of millions of people.

"I am delighted to receive this honor," said FitzGerald. "However, it reflects the creativity, focus and hard work of so many people with whom I have been privileged to work. It is a particular pleasure to share this prize with Carlo, with whom I have collaborated and competed, but most importantly, shared a special friendship for more than 30 years."

Aside from his work on aspirin, FitzGerald was the first to predict and then mechanistically explain the cardiovascular hazards from such nonsteroidal antinflammatory drugs as Vioxx® and Celebrex.® His laboratory has discovered novel indices of oxidant stress and was the first to describe the molecular clock in the cardiovascular system. Among his awards in the past year have been the Scheele Award from the Swedish Academy of the Pharmaceutical Science and the Lucian Award from McGill University.

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