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Preeclampsia Foundation's "Hope Award for Lifetime Achievement" Goes to Preeclampsia Research Giant

Last Updated on Friday, August 22, 2008

(Minneapolis, Minn) The Preeclampsia Foundation announced today that Dr. James M. Roberts, Senior Scientist and Founding Director of the Magee-Women Research Institute (Pittsburgh, PA) will be presented with its highest honor, the Hope Award for Lifetime Achievement at its annual gala, "Saving Grace, A Night of Hope" on September 20 in Washington, DC. The award is not necessarily given each year and, in fact, Dr. Roberts only the second person ever to receive this tribute. Dr. Marshall Lindheimer of the University of Chicago was the first recipient.

Dr. Roberts has made numerous contributions over a lifetime of research dedicated to preeclampsia (see attached bio). His investigation into certain cell behavior (endothelial cells) as an important contributor to the development of preeclampsia as well as his work with Dr. Carl Hubel on the role of oxidative stress in preeclampsia have radically changed thinking about preeclampsia. More recently he has championed the "two stage" hypothesis, suggesting that preeclampsia is the result of a unique interaction of coexisting maternal and placental conditions. Currently, Dr. Roberts' laboratory is investigating the role obesity plays in the development of preeclampsia and the notion that maternal conditions that lead to preeclampsia also increase risk of cardiovascular disease in later life. Ms. Leslie Weeks, Chair of the Preeclampsia Foundation Board, stated, "Add to these accomplishments his role in establishing Magee Womens Research Institute, a center that places great emphasis on preeclampsia investigation, and it is evident why his selection to receive this honor was an easy, yet important decision"

Ms. Weeks continued, "Still, to my way of thinking, the fact that he has trained several generations of preeclampsia researchers, including clinicians and basic scientists may be his greatest achievement and legacy. It is through that commitment to mentoring that Dr. James M. Roberts' good work will be leveraged many times over." In response, Dr. Roberts stated, "I am incredibly humbled, honored, and energized by this award. I thank the Preeclampsia Foundation Board for this recognition, but choose to agree with Ms. Weeks and acknowledge that the true depth of meaning to my work lies in the cadre of talented young scientists I have had the
privilege to encourage along the way."

Dr. Ananth Karumanchi, a Harvard research scientist and colleague of Dr. Roberts on the Preeclampsia Foundation Medical Board, noted, "Funding agencies, academic researchers, and industry have shied away from investing resources and studying preeclampsia because of the significant difficulties involved in successfully performing clinical research in pregnant patients.  Dr. Roberts has always kept preeclampsia at the forefront of funding agencies and research, and as such has dedicated his life to understanding the cause and finding a cure for preeclampsia. With strong, unrelenting leadership and commitment - he has created a path for other researchers to follow."

Dr. Roberts is a member of the Preeclampsia Foundation's Medical Board.  He is also a member of numerous professional societies, having served as the President of the Perinatal Research Society Council (1984-1987), and the Society for Gynecological Investigation (1997) the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy and the North American Society of the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy.  Honors include honorary membership in of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, selection to  the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and mentoring awards from the NICHD and the Society for Gynecological Investigation.

The Foundation Chair, Leslie Weeks added, "I cannot say enough about the impact Dr. James M. Roberts has had on the study of preeclampsia in America today.  To many, like me, who have survived preeclampsia but suffered the loss of a child, we can only hope that this richly deserved recognition will also serve to encourage other researchers to focus their talents on understanding and preventing the tragic outcomes that so often result from preeclampsia."



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