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William Sessa

2019 NAVBO Earl P. Benditt Award - William C. Sessa, Yale School of Medicine

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The NAVBO Meritorious Awards Committee and Council is pleased to announce the selection of William Sessa, PhD, as the 2019 recipient of the Earl P. Benditt Award, in recognition of his numerous contributions to our understanding of mechanisms regulating nitric oxide production in the vascular endothelium. Dr. Sessa is currently the Alfred Gilman Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Medicine at Yale University, where he also serves as Vice Chairman of Pharmacology and Director of the Vascular Biology & Therapeutics Program. He will present the Benditt Lecture and receive the award, one of NAVBO's highest honors, at Vascular Biology 2019 in Pacific Grove, California (October 27, 2019).

Following undergraduate studies at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Sciences, Dr. Sessa completed M.S. and Ph.D. studies in Pharmacology at the University of Rhode Island and New York Medical College. He conducted post-doctoral research at the William Harvey Research Institute in London and the University of Virginia, after which he joined the faculty of Yale’s School of Medicine, rising to the rank of Professor of Pharmacology in 1999. His scholarly contributions, reported in well over 300 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and reviews, have earned Dr. Sessa numerous awards and honors in the U.S. and internationally, including the 2000 John Jacob Abel Medal in Pharmacology from American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the 2010 William Harvey Medal. In 2017, he was awarded an Outstanding Investigator Award (R35) from NHLBI, in strong support of his ongoing investigations of endothelial function.

As noted in his bio, Dr. Sessa’s principal contributions to science revolve around the molecular aspects of endothelial nitric oxide synthase activation and how eNOS regulates angiogenesis, vascular permeability, atherosclerosis and vascular remodeling. As a post-doctoral fellow at UVa, his was one of the three labs to clone eNOS. Across his career as a faculty member, his lab has probed eNOS subcellular trafficking, post-translational lipidation, characterized major sites of eNOS phosphorylation, and showed that growth factors and shear stress regulate eNOS protein-protein interactions and NO release from the endothelium. He was the first to demonstrate that eNOS derived NO regulates angiogenic behaviors of endothelial cells in an autocrine manner in response to VEGF, and it is now appreciated that NO contributes to several of the biological actions of VEGF. Although eNOS was considered a “constitutive gene,” his lab demonstrated that eNOS mRNA and protein levels were induced by exercise training, consistent with a critical adaptive response to changes in shear, pressure and flow.

Dr. Sessa has served his institution and profession in a number of capacities, chairing study sections at the NIH and American Heart Association and serving as President of NAVBO and editor for major cardiovascular journals. As a research mentor, he has trained dozens of post-doctoral fellows and doctoral students, the latter group including NAVBO’s 2017 Judah Folkman Awardee, Guillermo García-Cardeña, PhD and the 2011 Springer Junior Investigator Awardee, Carlos Fernández-Hernando, PhD. Please join us for VB2019 at Asilomar this October to honor Dr. Sessa as he receives this well-deserved award.

Dr. Sessa will give his talk entitled, "Integration of endothelial function and lipid metabolism," on Sunday, October 27, 2019 at 8:15pm in Merrill Hall at the Asilomar Conference Grounds.

Compiled by William R. Huckle,
NAVBO Editor

Read more about Dr. Sessa

Read more about the Benditt Award