Ray C. Fish (1902–1962) was a leading figure in Houston's natural gas industry and a philanthropist. He believed in the American dream of “opportunity for success.” The Ray C. Fish Foundation was established so that others might be encouraged to broaden man's self-knowledge and to keep the American dream alive. After its founder's death from heart disease, the Fish Foundation granted $5 million to make the Texas Heart Institute a reality. For this reason, the Institute's highest professional award is given in honor of this extraordinary man. The award recognizes those whose innovations have made significant contributions to cardiovascular medicine and surgery.
The first Texas Heart Institute Medal and Ray C. Fish Award for Scientific Achievement in Cardiovascular Diseases were presented in 1972 to Dr. Norman Shumway. Since 1972, 39 other highly deserving recipients have been so honored by the Institute. The complete Roll of Recipients begins on the next page.
Christine E. Seidman, MD
The 2020 Fish Award recipient is Christine Edry Seidman, MD. She is the 40th person and the first woman to receive the Texas Heart Institute's highest honor.
Dr. Seidman directs the Cardiovascular Genetics Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and she is the Thomas W. Smith Professor of Medicine and Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Specializing in determining molecular mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease, she was the first to discover a genetic origin of congenital cardiac malformations. From almost the beginning of her research career through the present, she has described the roles of genes and their mutations in familial hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathy, and she has expanded this investigation into the causes of many other conditions. She also has board certifications in cardiovascular disease and internal medicine, and she continuously applies her scientific findings toward precise diagnostic approaches, improved clinical management, and effective therapies. She is a prolific author and coauthor, with more than 400 peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Seidman earned her medical degree from the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences (1978). She completed her internal medicine residency at The Johns Hopkins Hospital (1981) and cardiology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital (1986). She became a full professor at Harvard Medical School in 1997.
Dr. Seidman has been elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation (1992), National Academy of Medicine (1999), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1999), and National Academy of Sciences (2005). Prominent among her numerous honors are the American Heart Association's Distinguished Scientist Award, and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cardiovascular Research.
In his comments, James T. Willerson, MD, President Emeritus of the Texas Heart Institute, noted, “We are honoring Dr. Seidman for her tremendous work in identifying molecular mechanisms involved in the development of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and other heart diseases, and, more recently, her research into small molecules that inhibit the development of cardiomyopathies in patients.”
In summary, Dr. Seidman's pioneering discoveries in cardiovascular genetics will continue to facilitate deeper knowledge and effective therapies.