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Elizabeth Nabel at the 2009 Heart Truth fashion show

Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D. is the former Director of the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Education and career

Nabel, a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, graduated from St. Olaf College in 1974 and received her M.D. degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1981.[1] Subsequently, she completed an internship and residency in internal medicine followed by a clinical and research fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University. In 1987, she joined the faculty at the University of Michigan as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and rose through the ranks, becoming Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center in 1992, Professor of Medicine and Physiology in 1994, and Chief of the Division of Cardiology in 1997. While at the University of Michigan, she became known for her research in the fields of vascular biology and molecular cardiology and for her gene transfer studies of the cardiovascular system.

Nabel joined the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in 1999 as the Institute’s Scientific Director of Clinical Research. In 2005, Nabel became Director of the NHLBI, where she oversaw an extensive national research portfolio of basic and clinical research to prevent, diagnose, and treat heart, lung, and blood diseases. She served in this position until November 30, 2009.

Medical and Research Achievements

Nabel has made many contributions to basic and clinical research on the pathogenesis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. She has long championed the concept “from bench to bedside” which is reflected in her work that intertwines basic research and translation to clinical medicine. Early in her career, she made seminal discoveries regarding genetic therapies for cardiovascular disease, having developed methods for the introduction and expression of recombinant genes into blood vessels. These basic studies were instrumental in designing device therapies, in combination with genes or drugs, to treat the vascular disease restenosis. In addition, Nabel has delineated the mechanisms by which cell cycle and growth factor proteins regulate the proliferation of vascular cells in blood vessels, a process important for the development of atherosclerosis and restenosis. Her vascular biology laboratory has characterized the role of cell cycle inhibitors on vascular proliferation and inflammation, and this research has opened up new avenues for therapeutic targets in the vasculature. [2] Nabel’s current research focuses on the molecular genetics of vascular diseases. She is conducting clinical studies to understand the contribution of genetic factors to proliferative and inflammatory diseases in blood vessels, including common diseases like atherosclerosis and the rare, premature aging in Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome. [3]. She has contributed both to policy and basic research on embryonic stem cells [4]

Memberships and Awards

Nabel has served as a Visiting Professor at major medical centers throughout the country. She has delivered major lectureships in Europe and Australia. Nabel has received numerous awards for her scientific accomplishments, including the Willem Einthoven Award from Leiden University in the Netherlands, the Amgen-Scientific Achievement Award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Distinguished Achievement Awards from both the Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Council and the Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology Council of the American Heart Association. In 2001, she received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Nabel is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians, as well as a Fellow of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. [2]


  1. ^ St. Olaf College | Admissions | Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  2. ^ a b "Biographical Sketch".  
  3. ^ Capell BC, Olive M, Erdos MR, Cao K, Faddah DA, Tavarez UL, Conneely KN, Qu X, San H, Ganesh SK, Chen X, Avallone H, Kolodgie FD, Virmani R, Nabel EG, Collins FS (2008). "A farnesyltransferase inhibitor prevents both the onset and late progression of cardiovascular disease in a progeria mouse model". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105: 15902–7. PMID 18838683.  
  4. ^ "Neuropilin-1 identifies endothelial precursors in human and murine embryonic stem cells before CD34 expression". Circulation 119: 2170–8. 2009. PMID 19364973.  


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