The contributions of Allyn Mark, M.D. to the investigation of the role of the brain and sympathetic nervous system in controlling blood pressure were recognized recently by the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension during the Joint Scientific Sessions with the American Society of Hypertension in San Francisco. Dr. Mark was presented with the 2017 Excellence Award for Hypertension Research, which is widely considered the premier award in hypertension research and honors excellence in research and discoveries in the field of hypertension and recognizes Dr. Mark’s ground-breaking research focusing on the role of obesity and high salt intake in the pathogenesis of hypertension.
Following a sabbatical in Uppsala, Sweden in the early 1980s, Dr. Mark introduced the microneurographic method for direct intraneural recordings of sympathetic nerve activity into the US and, with his trainees, employed this method to advance our understanding of human autonomic control in exercise, heart failure, hypertension, sodium intake and obesity. More recently, his research has addressed the mechanisms of obesity-induced hypertension, including the sympathetic actions of leptin and the concept of selective leptin resistance in obese states. Dr. Barry London, Director of Cardiovascular Medicine and the Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center, reflected on Dr. Marks’s recent award “Dr. Mark has made numerous seminal contributions to the field of hypertension during his long and productive tenure as a member of the Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center and the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. He was ahead of his time in appreciating the interplay between the sympathetic nervous system, high salt intake, obesity and hypertension, and his work catalyzed the development of his field.”
In addition to Dr. Mark’s vast research contributions, he has served as a pivotal figure in defining cardiovascular investigation through research, training and service at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Dr. Mark served as Assistant Director for the Cardiovascular Research Center at its founding in 1974. He subsequently served as Director of the Cardiovascular Division from 1976 to 1995 and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs in the Carver College of Medicine from 1995 to 2006. In 2011, he founded and now co-directs the UI Obesity Research and Education Initiative with Dr. Charles Brenner. Dr. Mark held the Roy J. Carver Chair in Internal Medicine from 1993 to 2013.
The faculty, staff and students of the Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center congratulate Dr. Mark on American Heart Association Award of Excellence and thank him for his role in defining cardiovascular research at the University of Iowa.