Local Physician Receives Highest VA Research Award - VA San Diego Healthcare System
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VA San Diego Healthcare System


Local Physician Receives Highest VA Research Award

August 17, 2017

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August 17, 2017 (San Diego, Calif.) – VA San Diego Healthcare System is pleased to announce that Dr. H. Kirk Hammond, a researcher and cardiologist with the VA San Diego Healthcare System, has been awarded the 2017 William S. Middleton Award – the highest research honor in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The award is given annually to VA investigators in recognition of outstanding achievements in biomedical research and contributions to cutting-edge medical care for U.S. Veterans.

Hammond is a cardiologist and researcher with VA San Diego Healthcare System and a Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Hammond is noted for landmark studies in cardiovascular research that have changed the medical community's understanding of cardiovascular dysfunction and treatment.  He and his team pioneered the use of gene therapy to treat heart failure. This approach was recently shown to be safe and effective in patients with heart failure, and larger trials will soon begin.

“Heart failure affects 6 million patients in the US and, even with optimal therapy, the prognosis is dismal, wrote Hammond, “so we need new therapies to address this unmet medical need.” “Cardiovascular gene transfer is conceptually an attractive method for treating heart failure..."

Hammond and colleagues have two late-stage clinical gene therapy trials that will begin in 2017:
  • Phase 3 clinical trial of AC6 gene transfer in patients with severe heart failure.  AC6 (adenylyl cyclase type 6) is a protein that increases heart function
  • Phase 3 clinical trial of FGF4 gene transfer in patients with angina. FGF4 is an angiogenic gene, which promotes blood vessel formation

"If successful, these trials could lead to the first registration of a gene therapy product for treating heart disease," said Dr. Rachel Ramoni, VA’s Chief Research and Development Officer.  "Dr. Hammond is clearly a pioneer of intra-coronary gene therapy and novel patient delivery mechanisms that will have a broad impact on the health care of Veterans."

Hammond is also investigating potential gene therapies for type 2 diabetes and foresees a clinical trial in the coming years.