In acknowledgment of her research advancing the field of cardiovascular science, UTHealth Houston’s Louise McCullough, MD, PhD, has been honored with the 2022 American Heart Association Basic Research Prize.
McCullough is professor and chair and the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Distinguished Chair in the Department of Neurology with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, co-director of UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, and chief of neurology at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. She is also affiliated with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.
The award is given annually to an individual who is making outstanding contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular science and who currently runs an exceptional cardiovascular basic science laboratory.
“We have seen an amazing growth in our understanding of the biology of sex differences, in both clinical and experimental studies over the past decade,” McCullough said. “My first and primary area of research focus is the investigation of mechanisms underlying sex differences in stroke. This primary area of interest has shaped both my basic and clinical career and has been the driving force behind my translational efforts over the past decade.”
Recognized for her work in cerebral vascular disease, McCullough is known for her research identifying sex differences in cell death pathways during stroke, which are now recognized as major factors in the response to an ischemic insult. Her research revealed the importance of sex differences in disease models at the bench level, and this work contributed to the National Institutes of Health’s decision to mandate that both male and female animals be included in all preclinical research.
Additionally, McCullough’s laboratory studies aging and inflammation, and how these factors influence recovery after stroke. Currently, her team is examining how age-related dysbiosis impairs stroke recovery, contributes to cognitive decline, and potentially affects women and their children through maternal transmission of their biome.
McCullough received a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in experimental psychology, and a doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Connecticut. She earned a Doctor of Medicine from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine Farmington, and completed her residency and fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
She has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association for her research and has published more than 280 articles in peer-reviewed journals. She serves on the editorial boards of Acta Neuropathologica, Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease, and Annals of Neurology, as well as Stroke, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association.
McCullough received her award on Sunday, Nov. 6, during the Presidential Session at the annual AHA Scientific Sessions conference in Chicago.