MCG professor honored with American Heart Association award

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 12:28 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Jessica Faulkner is a physiologist and professor at the Medical College of Georgia.

After 14 years of focused research on sex differences in cardiovascular diseases, she can add the Harry Goldblatt Award for New Investigators from the American Heart Association’s 2023 Hypertension Council to her list of accomplishments.

“I was very excited. I knew I had been nominated for the award, but I never really expected to receive it. It’s a very prestigious award in our field,” she said.

The award is named for the pathologist who established the first animal model of hypertension in 1934 and is awarded to an independent investigator early in their career working in hypertension or cardiovascular research who has significantly helped others understand the causes of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Day to day, she’s researching preeclampsia in pregnant women, trying to find treatments for the condition as Georgia faces one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the nation.

“I really believe that that’s due to the rising numbers of these types of disorders that we unfortunately just don’t know enough about,” said Faulkner.

She’s also studied obesity-related cardiovascular disease in women.

For her, it’s about giving women more options for treatment before it’s too late.

“The treatment for these disorders is so finite. You have a nine-month window. It can’t be a person who has high blood pressure, and wait two years to actually treat it. You have a very finite window, and you have to kind of act very fast. So, we need to have a lot of options,” she said.

As the author of more than 40 peer-reviewed publications and a three-time American Heart Association award recipient, she says the work’s not done.

“If I ever saw one day, one of the pathways that I study ultimately becoming a drug or a treatment therapy, I think that would be extremely validating for me,” said Faulkner.