Heart Study founder receives state award

Published 9:55 am Friday, February 19, 2016

The Louisiana State Medical Society recognized Dr. Gerald Berenson with the LSMS Physician Award for Community Service on Jan. 23 at its annual House of Delegates meeting in Shreveport.

A native of Bogalusa, Berenson is a graduate of Tulane University and the Tulane School of Medicine. Berenson has been an academic at both Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and the Tulane School of Medicine for over 40 years. He was section chief of cardiology at LSU Medical Center for 17 years and he is currently a research professor of epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health.

Berenson has primary interests in atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease and hypertension. He is founder of the Bogalusa Heart Study, which has become known nationally and internationally for the study of early natural history of heart disease. He holds interest in the prevention of heart disease and encouragement for health education of children and families as a public health approach for preventative cardiology.

More than 16,000 children and adults in the Bogalusa community have participated since the study’s inception in 1972, and funding has been provided over the years by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute on Aging and the American Heart Association. Ongoing studies have arisen from this research, such as the Heart Smart Program, a cardiovascular health education and health promotion study concerning children from kindergarten through sixth grade.

“Single-focus prevention programs don’t work,” Berenson said, after his four decades of research into preventing heart disease. “As a doctor, you want to look at the total person.”

The LSMS award recognizes a member of the organization who is actively involved in community and civic activities beyond their responsibilities in the practice of medicine.

Established in 1878, the Louisiana State Medical Society serves as the premier advocate for patients and physicians. The LSMS is the largest voluntary physician organization in the state.