Columbia University Medical Center

Muredach Reilly, Marwah Abdalla Named Marjorie and Lewis Katz Scholars

Katz Scholars are leaders in translational medicine and heart disease prevention

Columbia researchers Muredach Reilly and Marwah Abdalla awarded 2017 Katz Scholarships

Muredach Reilly and Marwah Abdalla

NEW YORK (March 6, 2017)—Columbia University Medical Center announced that two of its faculty members, Muredach P. Reilly, MBBCh, MSCE, and Marwah Abdalla, MD, MPH, have been named 2017 Katz Scholars.

The scholarship program, begun in 2006 as the Katz Prizes in Cardiovascular Research, recognizes two investigators each year who have made important contributions to the field of cardiovascular research.

“This year’s Katz Prize recipients have made important contributions to the rapid advances in precision medicine-based cardiovascular care,” said Allan Schwartz, MD, the Harold Ames Hatch Professor of Medicine and Seymour Milstein Professor of Cardiology (in Medicine) at Columbia and chief of the Division of Cardiology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “Dr. Reilly’s research program will enable clinicians to use genomic information to individualize treatment of cardiac conditions. Dr. Abdalla’s ongoing work with the Jackson Heart Study, a population-based study of African-Americans, has demonstrated that identifying “masked” hypertension using 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring has the potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in that population.”

Dr. Reilly is the Herbert and Florence Irving Professor of Medicine (in Cardiology) and director of Columbia University’s Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, a multi-departmental research program that aims to speed the discovery and development of new therapies and preventive strategies for patients. A cardiologist by training, Dr. Reilly focuses on identifying genes that increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack. His work is aimed at understanding how these genes affect an individual’s heart disease risk and the pathophysiology of the disease. Dr. Reilly’s cardiovascular research team is using this information to find ways to improve patient care for those with heart disease.

Dr. Reilly earned his medical degree at University College, Dublin, Ireland. He also earned a master’s degree in epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2013, the University of Pennsylvania bestowed the Osler Patient-Oriented Research Award upon Dr. Reilly. Previously, he was presented with a Special Recognition Award from the American Heart Association for his work to enhance heart disease awareness and advance cardiovascular research.

Dr. Abdalla is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology and a faculty member in the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health. She is a clinical investigator in the Jackson Heart Study, an ongoing population-based study in Jackson, Miss., that examines the factors associated with heart disease among African-Americans. In a recent paper, Dr. Abdalla found that individuals with masked hypertension—blood pressure that is normal when measured in the clinic but elevated outside of the doctor’s office—had twice the risk of developing clinic hypertension when compared with those with normal (clinic and ambulatory) blood pressure. Clinic hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including stroke.

Dr. Abdalla graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history and science. She earned MD and MPH degrees from Yale University. Previous awards include the Physician of the Year Award at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia and the Martin P. Solomon Research Award at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Cambridge, Mass.

“Our family is honored that the legacy started at Columbia more than a decade ago by my parents continues to advance this important work,” said Melissa Silver, the Katz Scholars founders’ daughter and co-trustee of the Katz Scholars program. “It is both inspiring and humbling to think that so many people are being touched by this work.”

“Once again, Columbia has selected physicians whose outstanding, innovative research honors the memory of our mom and dad in a special way,” added Drew Katz, the founders’ son and co-trustee of the program. “Both Dr. Reilly and Dr. Abdalla exemplify the kind of leading-edge work our family intended to advance.”

Lewis Katz, who founded the scholarship program with his wife, Marjorie, was an attorney, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. The scholarship program continues in their memory and is administered by the couple’s children.

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Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, preclinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast. The campus that Columbia University Medical Center shares with its hospital partner, NewYork-Presbyterian, is now called the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.  For more information, visit cumc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.