Grundy honored for leadership with Distinguished Chair
By Heidi Harris Cannella
“How many people do you know who have changed the lives of millions of people?” asked Will Montgomery, Chairman of the Friends of the Center for Human Nutrition, at the group’s annual meeting. “Scott Grundy is that person.”
Dr. Scott M. Grundy announced earlier this year that the time had come to seek a new Director of the Center for Human Nutrition after his 32 years in that role, although he will remain a Professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Friends and colleagues from around the world gathered May 7 to honor him for his decades of leadership. Those in attendance, and many who could not come – nearly 160 individuals – surprised him with their gifts to support the Scott M. Grundy, M.D., Ph.D., Director’s Chair. The $2 million endowed position will always be held by the Director of the Center and will recognize in perpetuity the impact Dr. Grundy has had on the field of nutrition science and the medical conditions affected by it.
“I can’t tell you how much this means to me,” Dr. Grundy said. “Nothing has given me greater pleasure in my life than being the Director of the Center for Human Nutrition. The Center has played a significant role in early testing of statins, and now more than 50 million people take statins. Our investigators have helped shape public policy by creating standards of treatment for patients with high cholesterol and recommendations about healthy and unhealthy fats.”
Dr. Kern Wildenthal, as Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School at the time, recruited Dr. Grundy to the faculty. “More important than the buildings that we see around us is the recruitment of first-rate leaders. Scott is a quintessential example of that,” he said.
Dr. Jonathan Cohen, Professor of Internal Medicine in the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development and a former Fellow, said the singular trait that capsulizes Dr. Grundy is wisdom. “He has offered me sage advice at each juncture of my career.”
Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, Chief of Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases and also a former Fellow, said he has been “privileged that Dr. Grundy protected my time so I could do research. His dedication to science and his work is unparalleled.”
Peter O’Donnell Jr. was the inspiration for the creation of the Center in 1981. “When Edith and I first proposed that the school establish a center for nutrition, we had no idea that within a few years, Scott would put the Center on the map. He is one of a kind. We think he is the best,” he said.
In 1985, Mr. O’Donnell founded the Friends of the Center for Human Nutrition. The Friends group evolved along with the Center as a way to organize, fund, and spread the word about nutrition research and discoveries. To date, the organization has raised more than $3.25 million to support researchers who come from across the globe to train with Dr. Grundy – nearly 125 fellows and faculty members throughout the years.
Dr. Grundy will remain an active member of the faculty, continuing his research and teaching in the Center for Human Nutrition and the Department of Clinical Nutrition in the UT Southwestern School of Health Professions. He is also Chief of the Section of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases at the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Medical Director of UT Southwestern’s National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical and Translational Research Center.
Dr. Grundy’s major research area is dietary influences on health, particularly cholesterol and lipoprotein metabolism. The emphasis of his work is the metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. He has published more than 450 original research papers.
An internationally recognized authority in his field, he is on the editorial board of several prestigious medical journals. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine by the University of Helsinki, Finland, in 1990. He was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine in 1995. In 1997 Dr. Grundy received the Bristol-Myers Squibb Distinguished Achievement in Nutrition Research Award. Dr. Grundy has chaired the National Cholesterol Education Program (Adult Treatment Panels II and III), which sets guidelines for physicians on cholesterol control for the American public. He is past President of the International Atherosclerosis Society. In 2009 Dr. Grundy was honored at the Third International Congress on Prediabetes and the Metabolic Syndrome for his outstanding contributions to understanding the metabolic basis of cardiovascular disease. He received the American Heart Association’s highest recognition, the Gold Heart Award, for his distinguished volunteer service. Most recently, the AHA honored him by creating the Scott Grundy Fellowship Award for Excellence in Metabolism Research in his honor.
Dr. Cohen holds the C. Vincent Prothro Distinguished Chair in Human Nutrition Research.
Dr. Garg holds the Distinguished Chair in Human Nutrition Research.
Dr. Grundy holds the Distinguished Chair in Human Nutrition.
Accomplishments of the Center for Human Nutrition
1981: With a $1 million gift from an anonymous Dallas family, the Center for Human Nutrition opens its doors, headed by UC San Diego recruit Dr. Scott Grundy.
1983: Drs. Grundy, David Bilheimer, Michael Brown, and Joseph Goldstein report that statins increase LDL receptors in humans, thus beginning investigation in humans with this new drug.
1984: Researchers discover the safety of monounsaturated oils, which leads to the popularization of olive oil in cooking and the proliferation of the Mediterranean diet.
1987: Drs. Margo Denke, Andrea Bonanomi, and Grundy find that stearic acid, found in beef fat and cocoa butter, does not raise LDL cholesterol.
1991: Dr. Grundy and colleagues call upon food manufacturers to identify the components of packaged foods, in particular trans-unsaturated fats.
1995: Center researchers study the “metabolic syndrome” and find that abdominal obesity, hypertension, and insulin resistance can increase risk of heart disease.
1998: Dr. Jonathan Cohen finds genetic mutations that influence cholesterol levels, including one that affects levels of HDL.
2002: Dr. Abhimanyu Garg’s research showing the benefits of a high-monounsaturated fat diet for type 2 diabetes is instrumental in leading to changes in national diabetes guidelines..
2003: Drs. Grundy and Gloria Vega discover that low doses of niacin are effective for treating lipid abnormalities in diabetics..
2009: Dr. Deborah Clegg finds that palmitic acid – a saturated fatty acid found in butter, cheese, milk, and beef – reduces the ability of leptin and insulin to regulate weight.