2021 NAVBO Judah Folkman Award in Vascular Biology -
Carlos Fernández-Hernando, M.S., Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine
The NAVBO Meritorious Awards Committee, the Scientific Advisory Board, and the NAVBO Council announce with pleasure the selection of Carlos Fernández-Hernando, PhD, as the recipient of the 2021 Judah Folkman Award in Vascular Biology. This award recognizes outstanding contributions from vascular biologists who are at mid-career (within fifteen years of their first faculty appointment). Dr. Fernández-Hernando will present his Folkman Award Lecture and receive the award at Vascular Biology 2021 in Pacific Grove, California (October 27, 2021).
Dr. Fernández-Hernando earned a BSc in Chemistry (1998) and a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2003) from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain. Following post-doctoral work at Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Spain, and Yale University School of Medicine, he joined the faculty of the NYU School of Medicine in 2009. He moved to Yale as an Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Medicine and the Interdepartmental Program in Vascular Biology and Therapeutics in 2013. Since 2019, he has held the position of Professor in Yale’s Departments of Comparative Medicine and Pathology, with continuing roles in the Programs in VBT and Integrative Cell Signaling & Neurobiology Metabolism.
Dr. Fernández-Hernando’s early research focused on the study of cellular cholesterol homeostasis in regulating cell cycle progression and cellular proliferation. His postdoctoral research in Vascular Biology and Pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine examined the molecular mechanisms that control lipoprotein transport across the endothelium during atherosclerosis and the regulation of eNOS activity. During his time at Yale, he and Dr. Suárez accomplished in Bill Sessa’s lab the first identification and characterization of miRNAs as major regulators of endothelial cell biology and angiogenesis.
As an Assistant Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) and Cell Biology and the Vascular Biology and Disease Program at NYU, his group published a landmark paper in Science reporting discovery of a small RNA (miR-33) that regulates cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism. In a series of key studies, he was able to demonstrate that miRNA-33 provides a critical link between the regulation of cholesterol biosynthesis by SREBP2 and cholesterol efflux pathways mediated by ABCA1, a transporter that controls cellular cholesterol efflux and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) biogenesis. This important discovery represents one of the first examples where a miRNA cooperates with its host gene to regulate a similar physiological process. In addition to miRNA-33, his lab has also identified a number of other relevant miRNAs (miR-144, miR-27 and miR-148a) involved in the regulation of lipoprotein metabolism and cholesterol homeostasis.
Other research in his lab examines the contribution of cholesterol biosynthetic intermediates and cholesterol derivatives in regulating macrophage immune response during atherosclerosis and type-2 diabetes. This work has identified desmosterol as the natural LXR ligand that regulates cholesterol metabolism and inflammasome activation in atherosclerotic vascular disease. His research group has also begun to dissect the contribution of ANGPTL proteins in regulating angiogenesis and lipid metabolism. In a number of related studies, his lab has demonstrated that ANGPTL4 influences the progression of atherosclerosis by affecting macrophage foam cell formation in atherosclerotic plaques and accelerating the catabolism of triglyceride rich lipoproteins.
The research described above, featured in over 100 peer-reviewed papers published to date, has established Dr. Fernández-Hernando internationally as a pioneer in the identification and characterization of non-coding RNAs as major regulatory molecules controlling cholesterol homeostasis and lipoprotein metabolism. He has been the recipient of numerous awards for his contributions in the field of lipid metabolism and vascular biology, including the Irvine Page Young Investigator Award (American Heart Association), David L. Williams Award (Kern Lipid Conference), Established Investigator Award (American Heart Association) and an NIH/NHLBI R35 Investigator Award. Closer to home, Dr. Fernández-Hernando holds the distinction of being the inaugural recipient of NAVBO’s Springer Junior Investigator Award in 2011.
“Like Dr. Folkman,” notes a letter of nomination for the eponymous award, “Carlos is an enthusiastic, passionate mentor, exceptional colleague and collaborator and a well-respected, thought leader in the field.” Please join us for VB2021 at Asilomar this October to honor Dr. Fernández-Hernandoas he receives the Folkman Award in recognition of his accomplishments…and bright future…as a vascular biologist.
Compiled by William R. Huckle,