Anaheim, California - The American Heart Association awarded its Basic Research Prize for 2017 to Walter J. Koch, Ph.D., of the Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, "for basic cardiovascular studies that have identified novel molecular targets for treating heart failure and advanced prospective therapy to the doorstep of clinical trials."

Koch received the prize during Sunday's opening ceremonies of the AHA Scientific Sessions 2017, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians, which was held at the Anaheim Convention Center. Association President John Warner, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, presented the citation and $5,000 honorarium, awarded annually for outstanding achievement in basic cardiovascular disease science.

Warner said Koch is widely praised for the excellence of his scholarship in cardiovascular research, where he has been a pioneer in basic molecular biology of the heart.

"Over the last two decades, Dr. Koch has focused on the role that G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) play in normal and failing heart function," Warner said. "In so doing, he has essentially created a new field of study based on the significant role that GRKs play in the cardiovascular system."

Koch has led in uncovering mechanisms that support GRK2 as a target for heart failure therapy, Warner said, noting that the Philadelphia scientist and his team recently showed that an anti-depressant, paroxetine, can reverse heart failure in mice by inhibiting GRK2.

"This is clearly an exciting development and a great example of translational science at its best, further demonstrating Dr. Koch's rightful place in its uppermost ranks," Warner said. "It's quite clear that he is at the threshold of exciting progress in the quest for new ways to eradicate cardiovascular disease at its deepest roots."

Koch is Professor and Chairman of Pharmacology and Director of the Center for Translational Medicine at Temple University's Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.