Award for artificial mitral valve pioneer


Albert Starr has received the 2015 Institut de France’s Grand Prix Scientifique, which is one of the largest prizes for scientific accomplishment and is considered the world’s most prestigious prize for cardiovascular research. In 1960, Starr performed the world’s first successful artificial mitral valve implant in Oregon, USA, on a 52-year-old man with end-stage mitral valve disease. That same year, Miles Lowell Edwards incorporated Edwards Laboratories to manufacture and market the Starr-Edwards valve.

An Edwards Lifesciences press release reports that the Institut’s board awarded Starr the Grand Prix in recognition of his research that led to the 1960 procedure. The press release reports that, at the time, the idea of replacing a heart valve was a novel concept and Starr’s work helped set the stage for the development of bioengineered tissue heart valves and more recent approaches to delivering bioengineered aortic valves through a catheter.

Michael A Mussallem, chairman and chief executive officer of Edwards Lifesciences, says: ““Dr Starr’s work was groundbreaking in enabling treatment for patients with heart valve disease and this prestigious recognition pays tribute to his significant career in advancing the practice of medicine. As a young clinician, Starr’s recommendation to focus on the heart’s valves rather than the whole heart was a key decision, and led to the incredible partnership between clinicians and inventors that continues at Edwards today. Dr Starr’s entrepreneurial spirit, combined with a strong work ethic, clinical knowledge and dedication to patients continues to inspire us all.”

Starr now  serves as distinguished professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine and is special adviser to the School’s dean and president. He is also chairman of the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, which aims to bring clinicians and researchers together to translate laboratory discoveries into new and better treatments for cardiovascular disease. In 2007, he received the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, which honours the contributions of scientists, physicians, and public servants who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of human disease.