School of Public Health Professor Aaron Folsom was honored by the American Heart Association with the opportunity to present the 2019 Ancel Keys Memorial Lecture during the organization’s scientific sessions in November. The honor recognizes prominent cardiovascular epidemiologists and their contributions to research into the causes and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Folsom has researched cardiovascular health for nearly forty years and served as a principal investigator for the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study and explored potentially deadly blood clots that form in the veins, known as venous thromboembolisms.
“It’s very rewarding to be recognized by my colleagues for a national award named after Ancel Keys, who was so prominent at the University,” says Folsom. “It’s also great to follow in the footsteps of two previous awardees who are SPH faculty and were my mentors: Henry Blackburn and Russell Luepker.“
Folsom is a faculty member of the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, and Division Head Dianne Neumark-Sztainer says it is hard to summarize how much Folsom has advanced the field of cardiovascular epidemiology.
“Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death around the world, and Dr. Folsom’s extensive research and teaching on cardiovascular health have been instrumental in improving both the quality and quantity of life everywhere,” says Neumark-Sztainer. “Dr. Folsom has published more than 1,000 scientific articles; led some of the most important epidemiologic studies; and has been an outstanding teacher. He is one of the hardest working people I know, and also lives what he studies, for example, by running for exercise even in the cold of winter.”
Folsom’s lecture was titled, “Epidemiology of Venous Thromboembolism and Opportunities for Primary Prevention through Healthy Lifestyle.”
“I hoped to raise awareness in the audience that venous thromboembolism — or VTE — is an important public health problem and preventable on a population basis,” says Folsom. “The medical field emphasizes using anticloting drugs for prevention, but underestimates the degree to which healthy lifestyle might also contribute to VTE prevention. Population approaches through education, policy, and environmental change related to smoking, obesity, physical activity, and healthy diet could be helpful — and we need to do more research in the area.”