Oct. 31, 2012

Robin Davisson receives American Heart Association award

Davisson

Robin Davisson, the Andrew Dickson White Professor of Molecular Physiology, was recently awarded one of the most prestigious prizes of her discipline: the 2012 Arthur C. Corcoran Memorial Award and Lecture from the American Heart Association.

Davisson received the international prize for distinguished research in the field of hypertension at the 2012 High Blood Pressure Research Scientific Sessions Sept. 19-22, in Washington, D.C.

"Dr. Davisson's selection to deliver the Corcoran Award lecture recognizes her leadership in the field of hypertension research and her enormous impact on the careers of young scientists," said Michael I. Kotlikoff, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine. "Robin has made superb contributions that have both changed conventional thinking about cardiovascular science and traditional strategies for treating cardiovascular disease."

Davisson's research focuses on mechanisms of function, control and signaling of the cardiovascular system as well as disorders of these mechanisms in the context of diseases such as hypertension, heart failure and pre-eclampsia. Her investigations employ the interdisciplinary approach of "functional genomics," an endeavor at the interface of physiology and molecular biology.

At the Corcoran Award ceremony, Davisson shared highlights of her research and also described the importance of a robust research ecosystem -- a set of scientific research and educational elements -- that she said is at risk due to a variety of political and economic issues.

This ecosystem begins in K-12 and requires supportive families; motivated science and technology teachers; adequate facilities; research opportunities throughout undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral study that is guided by devoted and talented faculty; job security for productive faculty to support the academic freedom needed to test risky or controversial ideas and hypotheses; and access to competitive, peer-reviewed research support, said Davisson, who holds a joint appointment at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Davisson has been engaged in graduate student education and professional development since the start of her faculty career. At the University of Iowa, she developed and taught a course called Survival Skills for a Research Career, which focused on the full spectrum of communication, grant-writing and other skills needed to establish a successful research laboratory in an academic setting. She also spearheaded the first Master in Teaching program at Iowa, designed to educate graduate students about teaching in higher education.

She has continued these efforts at Cornell and has been honored for mentoring undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students in the areas of research, teaching and career development.

Stephanie Specchio is director of communications at the Vet College.