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Meritorious Awards

Luisa Iruela-Arispe - 2023 Recipient of the Stephen Schwartz Award
Supported by Vascular Pharmacology

NAVBO’s Meritorious Awards Committee is pleased to name Luisa Iruela-Arispe, M.S., Ph.D., as the 2023 recipient of the Stephen Schwartz Award. Named in honor of Dr. Stephen Schwartz, a revered and beloved member of NAVBO and co-founder of the society, the award recognizes a mentor who has contributed significantly to the successful career of scientists who have trained in their laboratory, as well as served as an exemplary mentor to graduate students and postdocs, and who has contributed to fostering an environment that facilitates both professional and personal growth. The award will be presented in October 2003, at VB2022 in Newport, RI.

Dr. Iruela-Arispe is currently the Stephen Walter Ranson Professor of Cell Biology and Chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at Northwestern University. She earned an undergraduate degree in Biology at the Universidade Gama Filho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, an M.S. in Histology & Embryology at the Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro, and completed her PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology between Universidade de São Paulo and the University of Washington (1989). Following post-doctoral study at the University of Washington, she held faculty positions at Harvard Medical School and the University of California-Los Angeles, becoming full Professor at UCLA in 2003. She served in a series of leadership positions at UCLA before relocating to Northwestern as Professor and Chair in 2019.

Dr. Iruela-Arispe’s research, which seeks to better understand signaling events that control vascular development and (dys)function, has been extraordinarily productive, evidenced by continuous grant support and well over 200 peer-reviewed publications. As a leading biomedical researcher, since 1994 she has guided 19 students to doctoral degrees in her laboratory and mentored 22 postdoctoral fellows, all of whom have found gainful employment in academia, publishing, or industry.

Her commitment to diversifying the research environment is evident: of her 41 doctoral or post-doctoral trainees, 75% are women; 41% are from underrepresented groups, and 53% are first-generation in pursuing higher education. She was recognized with a prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award for excellence in teaching at UCLA in 2009 and in 2013 received the UCLA Gold Shield Faculty Prize. In 2002 she led the creation of a graduate training program in Vascular Biology that has enjoyed continuous NIH T32 award support ever since. From 2011-2019, Dr. Iruela-Arispe served as Director of UCLA’s Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Program, an experience she credits with increasing both her understanding of mentorship and her sense of responsibility for guiding the next generation of scientists. Not least among her accomplishments, Luisa received NAVBO’s inaugural Judah Folkman Award in 2009 for excellence in research and service to the vascular biology community.

While the research productivity and recognition by peers are indirect reflections of Dr. Iruela-Arispe’s devotion to mentorship, the observations of those who have benefitted from her guidance are compelling indeed, revealing her fostering development of both technical expertise and transferrable professional skills. A trainee writing in support of the nomination considers themselves “…extremely blessed to have such a fiercely dedicated mentor in my corner. She is a role model for all young scientists as both an innovative scientist and dedicated educator who fosters excellence on a personal and institutional level.” “Dr. Arispe is consistently striving to promote inclusivity and an atmosphere that engenders collaborations and interactions by recruiting a group of highly diverse (expertise, level of training and ethnicity) and sociable trainees.” Another writes: “Luisa’s mentoring philosophy is built on the foundation of strong communication and respect for the individual. She goes above and beyond for her trainees and truly makes an effort for them to feel seen and heard. Additionally, the graduate students in my program also viewed her as their second mentor, which was very endearing.”

Please join us in Newport this October to honor 2023 Schwartz Award recipient, Dr. Luisa Iruela-Arispe.

This award if fully
Supported by Vascular Pharmacology



JANUARY 1, 1942–MARCH 17, 2020

This award recognizes a mentor that has contributed significantly to the successful career of scientists who have trained in their lab; who has served as an exemplary mentor to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and contributed to fostering an environment which facilitates both professional and personal growth.


Naomi Chesler to Receive 2023
Florence R. Sabin AwardRegeneron
Supported by Regeneron

NAVBO’s Meritorious Awards and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committees are pleased to name Naomi Chesler, M.Sc., Ph.D., as the 2023 recipient of the Florence R. Sabin Award. The Sabin Award recognizes a unique individual who embodies the spirit of Dr. Florence Sabin (1871-1953), who broke scientific and social barriers with her research and community engagement. Sabin was known as a brilliant scientist, a trailblazer and role model for women in the medical profession and a steadfast believer in equal opportunities for women. The award is open to members of cardio/vascular biology communities who have worked as scientists, physicians, or physician/scientists. Candidates must have distinguished themselves in at least one of the following areas: promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in social issues which benefit underrepresented groups, public health, or public service to the broader community, in addition to their scientific/clinical accomplishments. This year’s award will be presented to Dr. Chesler at VB2023 in Newport, RI.


Dr. Chesler presently serves as Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Irvine, and Director of the Edwards Lifesciences Foundation Cardiovascular Innovation and Research Center. She earned a B.Sc. in General Engineering at Swarthmore College, an M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at MIT, and her Ph.D. in the Harvard-MIT Medical Engineering and Medical Physics program (1996). Following post-doctoral studies in Vascular Biomechanics at Georgia Tech, she held faculty positions at the University of Vermont (where she earned an NSF CAREER Award) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, rising to the rank of Professor in Biomedical Engineering at the latter institution in 2014. She assumed her current post at UC-Irvine in 2020.

Dr. Chesler’s well-funded research has focused on the biomechanics and energetics of pulmonary vascular function and right ventricular failure, resulting in over 130 publications. Alongside these laboratory research accomplishments, Dr. Chesler and colleagues have made significant contributions to the scholarship of teaching and mentorship. Their development of “engineering virtual internships,” which provide meaningful engineering experiences to early learners, has the great potential to encourage women and members of other groups underrepresented or marginalized in the physical sciences to pursue engineering degrees. This work, together with her crafting of sociology-informed programs to overcome gender-related barriers to successful mentoring, has been recognized by a Diversity Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society (2014), the McDonald Mentoring Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (2019), and the Professional Impact Award for Mentoring from the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2021). Her work through her professional organizations, such has establishment of an LGBTQ social event that is now a regular social event on the annual BMES conference schedule, has far-reaching impact. Closer to home, Dr. Chesler has just began serving on the NAVBO DEI committee, so we can look forward to the benefit of her energy and commitment.

Those writing in support of Dr. Chesler’s nomination were united in their admiration for her commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and her embodiment of the spirit of the Sabin Award. “DEI is a constant thread through everything Dr. Chesler does. She incorporates healthcare disparities into her teaching, pointing out how some populations are at higher risk for some diseases, how many tools are designed and marketed without regard for the diversity of the patient population they will be serving, and how subtleties of language use in the classroom and the clinic can offend and harm.” At Irvine, she is active in the BME Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the UCI End Racism Initiative and has initiated a peer-mentoring network of women faculty in the School of Engineering. Dr. Chesler’s selfless desire to see her junior colleagues flourish was evident: “Naomi has been an outstanding mentor to me, consistently providing advice and actions that advanced my career when I needed it most. She did all this with no ulterior motive, as my success has no impact on her own career. I have also seen firsthand how Naomi’s mentoring has affected so many others in the biomechanics community.”

Please join us in Newport this October to honor Dr. Chesler as NAVBO’s 2023 Florence R. Sabin Award recipient.

Florence Sabin

Photo courtesy of Smith College

The Florence R. Sabin Award recognizes a unique individual who embodies the spirit of Dr. Florence Sabin (1871-1953) who broke scientific barriers with her research and contributions in the field of Vascular and Lymphatic Biology, as well as various social barriers. In addition to her contributions to science, Florence Sabin's later work as a public health administrator left a permanent imprint upon the communities in which she served. Sabin’s accomplishments include becoming the first woman faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and its first female full professor, the first woman to be elected President of the American Association of Anatomists, and the first woman elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. One of her most passionate causes was the advancement of equal rights for women in education, employment, and society in general. Sabin was known as a brilliant scientist, a trailblazer and role model for women in the medical profession and a steadfast believer in equal opportunities for women, a teacher, a colleague, and a friend. Click here to learn more about Florence Sabin.

This annual award is open to active or retired members of the national or international vascular or cardiovascular biology communities who work or have worked as scientists, physicians, or physician/scientists. Candidates must have distinguished themselves in at least one of the following areas: promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in social issues which benefit underrepresented groups, public health, or public service to the broader community, in addition to their scientific/clinical accomplishments.

To nominate a colleague for this award, please see additional information under Nominations on this web site

This award is co-sponsored by the Meritorious Awards and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committees



2023 Recipient of the Earl P. Benditt Award

The NAVBO Meritorious Awards Committee and NAVBO Council are pleased to announce the selection of Miikka Vikkula, MD, PhD, as the 2023 recipient of the Earl P. Benditt Award, in recognition of his numerous contributions to our understanding of the genetic basis of lymphatic and vascular anomalies.  Dr. Vikkula is currently Full Professor of Human Genetics at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. Dr. Vikkula will present the Benditt Lecture, titled “From pathophysiology of vascular malformations towards therapeutic trials,” and receive the award, one of NAVBO's highest honors, at Vascular Biology 2023 in Newport, Rhode Island (October 15, 2023).

A native of Finland, Dr. Vikkula earned a medical degree at the University of Helsinki in 1993 and a PhD in Molecular Genetics under Leena Peltonen at the same institution the following year. Having previously been a visiting summer MD/PhD scholar with Darwin Prockop at Thomas Jefferson University, he returned to the US as a Research Associate with Bjorn Olsen at Harvard (1993-1997), funded in part by an NIH Fogarty Fellowship. He joined the de Duve Institute in Brussels as a Guest Investigator in 1997 and the faculty of the Catholic University of Louvain in 2000. Since then, he has risen through the ranks at both institutions and now holds the distinguished titles of Full Professor at the Catholic University, Member of the Directorate of the de Duve Institute, and Honorary Master of Research as designated by Belgium’s National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS).

Dr. Vikkula’s research has focused on discovery of the genetic characteristics that drive development of a variety of vascular anomalies, notably Lymphedema and certain cancers. The work in his laboratory has combined study of primary patient specimens with the crafting of cell-based and animal models in which to probe mechanisms and pilot new approaches to treatment or prevention of vascular anomalies. This work has been facilitated by the application of cutting-edge exome sequencing and an advanced home-grown bioinformatics platform that integrates multiple in-silico analysis programs. Significant among discoveries in Dr. Vikkula’s lab was the ground-breaking recognition in 2009 that more than 50% of sporadic human vascular malformations are associated with somatic mutations in the angiopoietin receptor TIE2. This finding has led to targeting the over-activated endothelial TIE2-PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling axis as a novel therapeutic strategy.

The impact of Dr. Vikkula’s work has been recognized by a number of keynote lectureships and awards, including the Eugène de Sommer Scientific Award from the Catholic University (2006) and FNRS’s Lambertine-Lacroix Prize (2010). In addition to funding from the FNRS, Dr. Vikkula has developed fruitful research collaborations supported by the NIH (with Joyce Bischoff) and the Leducq Network of Excellence. He has trained a host of doctoral students and published more than 250 peer-reviewed papers, reviews, and book chapters. Letters in support of Dr. Vikkula’s nomination for the Benditt Award note that his fundamental discoveries have “…allowed a better clinical distinction of lymph/vascular anomalies, making possible a basis for a renewed, extended classification…” system. Moreover, “…Prof Vikkula has laid the foundation for development of new therapeutics which are being tested in clinical trials. His contributions have therefore been of uttermost importance, not only for basic understanding of the healthy blood and lymphatic vasculature, but also for a range of conditions with genetic or acquired diseases for which treatments have been lacking. Thus, like Prof Earl P. Benditt, Prof Vikkula has truly broken scientific barriers with his research and contributions in the field of Vascular and Lymphatic Biology.”

Please join us at VB2023 at the Newport Harbor Island Resort this October to honor Dr. Vikkula as he receives this well-deserved award.

APRIL 15, 1916–MAY 27, 1996

This award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding discovery or developed a concept that has been seminal to our understanding of vascular biology or pathology.

The recipient will receive a crystal plaque and a monetary award and will be asked to give a lecture at the Vascular Biology Meeting.

Recipients of the Earl P. Benditt Award include:

2023 Recipient of the Judah Folkman Award in Vascular Biology

The NAVBO Meritorious Awards Committee, the Scientific Advisory Board, and the NAVBO Council announce with pleasure the selection of Michael Potente, MD, as the recipient of the 2023 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. Potente will present his Folkman Award Lecture, "Metabolic guidance of angiogenesis: principles and mechanisms," and receive the award at Vascular Biology 2023 in Newport, Rhode Island (October 15-19, 2023).

Dr. Potente received his medical degree from Goethe-University in Frankfurt, Germany, in 2003 and subsequently pursued a Cardiology residency as well as postdoctoral training under Stefanie Dimmeler at the Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration at Goethe-University. Following several years of clinical cardiology practice, he became Max Planck Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim in 2012 and served as a Visiting Professor at the Max Delbrueck Center in Berlin from 2016-2019. Since 2020, he has held the position of Professor and practicing Physician/Cardiologist in the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine.

Research in Dr. Potente’s Angiogenesis and Metabolism Laboratory at the Max Planck Institute is focused on understanding the role of intermediary metabolism in the regulation of angiogenesis, or how environmental cues affect vascular dynamics in health and disease. Of particular interest are the metabolic adaptations, governed by transcriptional mechanisms, required for endothelial cells to adopt a proliferative, migratory phenotype during an angiogenic response. This work has revealed that well-recognized pathways of endothelial cell differentiation and function, such as those involving Notch signaling, can be influenced in significant ways by the metabolic state of the cell. Dr. Potente’s work has been consistently supported throughout his independent research career by a variety of public and foundation sponsors and has earned him a number of awards in Germany and internationally. He has authored more than 50 research publications, reviews, and editorials to date.

A colleague writing in support of Dr. Potente’s nomination for the Folkman Award notes that he “…is innovative and has a very deep understanding of signaling pathways that guide vessel growth.” Further, beyond his impactful contributions to vascular biology, “…he is a role model for physician scientists how to combine strong basic science without losing the contact to patients.” Perhaps most importantly, another letter of support states that Dr. Potente is “…a most worthy and suitable candidate for the NAVBO Judah Folkman award. Like Folkman, Michael has a medical background, combined with a deep and fundamental curiosity and love for mechanistic discovery science.”

Please join us at VB2023 this October to honor Dr. Potente as he receives the Folkman Award in recognition of his accomplishments…and bright future…as a vascular biologist.

FEBRUARY 24, 1933 – JANUARY 14, 2008

The Judah Folkman Award is a mid-career award. At the time of the Award, nominees will be between 3 and 15 years of their first faculty appointment (Assistant Professor or in non-academia, Staff Scientist or equivalent).  Therefore, a nominee's initial faculty appointment must be between 2007 and 2019 for the 2022 award.

In recognition of the breadth of Dr. Folkman's interests and his many contributions to vascular biology, the award will not be limited to the field of angiogenesis per se, but will encompass the full range of original research in vascular biology. Awardee will have made a significant impact on the field through his/her original research accomplishments.

Past Recipients include:


Amber Stratman, Ph.D.
Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Stratman will present her talk, "Hemodynamic regulated genes that alter vascular development," at Vascular Biology 2023 on October 18.

This award recognizes a Junior Faculty, who is within five years of their first independent investigator position or within five years of an independent research position in academia, government, or industry.  An applicant must be submitting and presenting an abstract at the upcoming annual meeting.  The award recipient will present their abstract in a 20-minute presentation usually within the Award Lecture session.

For the 2022 award, the first appointment needs to be January 1, 2017 or later.

Please note: A first independent investigator is defined as an Assistant Professor or in non-academia, Staff Scientist or equivalent.


Past Recipients include: