PHILADELPHIA — The National Institutes of Health (NIH), in partnership with the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, has announced that Nehal N. Mehta, MD, director of Inflammatory Risk in Preventive Cardiology at Penn Medicine, will be the inaugural Lasker Clinical Research Scholar. He will begin as a Lasker Scholar at NIH this month joining the intramural program of the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

"I am truly honored to be selected as the inaugural Lasker Clinical Research Scholar," said Dr. Mehta, who will remain an adjunct faculty member at Penn. "This unique award will allow me to forward my research within the NIH Clinical Center, foster the development of a multi-disciplinary human translational study team and advance the Laboratory of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases. I am excited about the multitude of opportunities to interact with the Lasker Foundation and the Division of Intramural Research at NIH as well as the rich resources made available through this far reaching program."

Mehta will work in the NHLBI's Cardiovascular-Pulmonary Branch. His research focuses on how inflammation influences metabolic activity, insulin resistance, lipid function and atherosclerosis. He also has expertise in nuclear cardiology and uses novel imaging techniques to understand the development of atherosclerotic plaques and vascular inflammation.

"The NIH is excited to welcome Dr. Mehta onto our campus as the first recipient of this historic intramural-extramural partnership with the Lasker Foundation," said NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD. "Dr. Mehta is an exceptional early-career scientist who will be a tremendous addition to the NIH Intramural Research Program."

As a new Lasker Clinical Research Scholar, Mehta will be able to conduct independent research at NIH for five to seven years. The program will provide him access to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, the nation's largest hospital devoted entirely to clinical research. Afterwards, Mehta and subsequent Scholars will have the opportunity to remain at the NIH as tenured investigators or move on to an extramural research institution, where they can receive up to five years of additional NIH financial support.

"Dr. Mehta is a superbly trained physician-scientist with the demonstrated ability to bridge the translational divide between basic research and medical discovery," said Michael S. Parmacek, MD, chief, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and director, Penn Medicine Cardiovascular Institute. "He is an outstanding choice as the first NIH-Lasker Scholar possessing the creativity, drive and other intangibles I've seen in others who have gone on to make transformational discoveries."

The Lasker Clinical Research Scholar program honors the contributions of Mary and Albert Lasker to the NIH and to the overall biomedical community. For more information on the program, please see the NIH-Lasker Foundation press release.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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