Lewis Kuller's groundbreaking career in epidemiology and specifically the study of cardiovascular disease has spanned five decades. Kuller "always challenged current public health knowledge through research and interventions designed to stimulate major advances in public health and prevention," said Anne Newman, chair of the Department of Epidemiology, when presenting him with the 2019 Peter J. Safar Pulse of Pittsburgh award at the Pittsburgh Heart Ball.
"He really has a passion for the field and an intellectual curiosity that spans more than one subject. This shift over time reflects his fundamental passion to think of ideas that no one else has thought of and to find the truth in the data and then to find directions to apply it to patients and their families," said Timoth Wong, director, UPMC Hyperthrophic Cardiomyopathy Center.
Kuller graduated from George Washington University Medical School in 1959 and went on to a residency at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn. He continued his education at Johns Hopkins, getting a master's degree and then a DrPH in 1966. He stayed on at Hopkins as faculty until 1972 when he was recruited by Pitt Public Health and built the Department of Epidemiology into a research machine. He had a drive for research, seeking funding, and sharing ideas for research with other faculty who went on to develop major research program themselves.
Kuller is a recipient of the University of Pittsburgh's Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award and the JOhn Snow Award from the American PUblic Health Association and the Royal Society for Public Health in England. He is president-elect of the Society for Epidemiological Research and associate editor of the American Journal of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine.
Newman describes Kuller as someone that always challenges public health knowledge through research and interventions designed to stimulate major advances in public health and prevention. In the 1970s he was one of the architects of the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial MRFIT and his work established a clear connection between cholesterol levels and mortality from heart disease that led to current guidelines that stress lowering cholesterol for a healthy heart. He was also one of the first researchers to study cardiovascular health in women.
Learn more about Kuller's career:
Watch the presentation of the Safar award and acceptance speech:
View photos from the Pittsburgh Heart Ball