PHILADELPHIA — Garret A. FitzGerald, MD, FRS, chair of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has received a 2016 Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad. He is the first recipient in the new category of Science, Technology, and Innovation.

Charles Flanagan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade for Ireland, characterized FitzGerald as a “globally recognized research physician and scientist … an active member of our diaspora [who is] closely engaged in facilitating scientific endeavor in Ireland.” 

The Presidential Distinguished Service Award was established in 2011 by the Republic of Ireland to recognize the contribution of Irish citizens and persons of Irish descent who have made a “valuable contribution to people’s lives.” Only people who live outside of Ireland can be nominated for the award. Nominations were made by Irish communities abroad through Ireland’s network of diplomatic missions.

FitzGerald received his undergraduate and medical degrees from University College, Dublin.

The award recognizes his research which “has contributed substantially to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease by low dose aspirin and has benefitted millions worldwide.  He has also won several major international awards for his work on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and is widely published in leading medical journals.”

Also cited was his work in promoting scientific endeavor in Ireland, including establishing the Center for Cardiovascular Science at University College, Dublin and serving as founding advisor of Science Foundation Ireland.  Additionally, he was recognized for “contribut[ing] significantly to the training and mentoring of many Irish researchers, several of whom hold senior positions within Irish academia and industry today.” 

FitzGerald is also director of the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics at Penn, which supports research at the intersection of basic and clinical research, focusing on developing new and safer medicines. The first institute of its kind, it has served as the model for centers for translational medicine worldwide.

Among FitzGerald’s numerous awards is the inaugural St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal, given by Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Times/RDS Boyle Medal, and the 2013 Grand Prix Scientifique -- considered the world's most prestigious honor for cardiovascular research. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science.

Other 2016 Presidential Distinguished Service Awards are in the categories of arts, culture and sport; business and education; charitable works; and peace, reconciliation and development. The Awards will be presented later this year by Michael D. Higgins, president of Ireland. 

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 $6.7 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 20 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 $392 million awarded in the 2016 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 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 2016, Penn Medicine provided $393 million to benefit our community.

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