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Logo of thijTexas Heart Institute JournalSee also Cardiovascular Diseases Journal in PMCSubscribeSubmissionsTHI Journal Website
Tex Heart Inst J. 2009; 36(3): 189.
PMCID: PMC2696512

In Memoriam

Howard E. Morgan (1927–2009)
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Figure. Howard E. Morgan, MD

Howard E. Morgan, MD—one of the most respected basic cardiovascular scientists of the 20th century—died on Monday, 2 March 2009, at 81 years of age. Howard developed the isolated, perfused, working-heart preparation from adult rats that he and his close colleague, James R. Neely, then used for more than a decade to elucidate fundamental metabolic and biochemical mechanisms involved while the heart is functioning normally and during hypoxia. These mechanisms are responsible for accelerated growth and hypertrophy. Other basic scientists engaged in cardiovascular research have used this same working-heart preparation very successfully to provide their own insights into fundamental metabolic processes that regulate the function of the heart.

While still in high school, Howard took college courses during the summers that enabled him to move directly into the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he received his medical degree in 1949. He did a medical residency at Vanderbilt University and subsequently held faculty appointments, from 1954 to 1967, in Vanderbilt's Department of Physiology and at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 1967, he founded the Department of Physiology at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine. From 1987 to 1998, he continued his basic research at the Sigfried and Janet Weis Center for Research, at the Geisinger Clinic. He published more than 250 manuscripts, 3 of which were named “Citation Classics” (papers that have accumulated more than 500 citations in the published research).

Howard served as President of the American Heart Association from 1987–1988; as President of the American Physiological Society, 1985–1986; as President of the International Society for Heart Research, 1983–1986; and as the Founding President of the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences, 1996–2002. He was also the coordinator of the US-USSR Exchange Program for Cardiovascular Biology and Medicine for 20 years. He was a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

When he died, Howard was the Evan Pugh Professor of Physiology, Emeritus, at Penn State College of Medicine and Senior Vice-President for Research, Emeritus, at the Geisinger Clinic. He was a consultant to the Reynolds Foundation, the Whitaker Foundation, and the Bugher Foundation.

Dr. Morgan and his colleagues trained a very large number of basic scientists in the cardiovascular field, many of whom went on to important leadership positions, worldwide, in cardiovascular science. He was rigorously committed to excellence in cardiovascular research and to translating the advances of basic cardiovascular science into clinical cardiovascular medicine that would be of benefit to patients. Howard was a no-nonsense and tireless cardiovascular scientist who influenced the cardiac-metabolism work of countless others throughout the world. His presence will be missed by all who work in cardiovascular medicine.

James T. Willerson, MD
President and Medical Director, Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, Houston, Texas

Articles from Texas Heart Institute Journal are provided here courtesy of Texas Heart Institute