The key to a great research career

November 11, 2013 8:45 AM

Deidre Boling

Dr. Gerald Berenson receives a key to the City of Bogalusa

Charles Mizell, left, mayor of Bogalusa, La., presents a key to the city to Dr. Gerald Berenson, originator of the Bogalusa Heart Study. (Photo by Dee Boling)

How do you sum up a career that includes a landmark 40-year study into the natural history of coronary artery disease and hypertension? For Tulane University epidemiology professor Dr. Gerald Berenson, you celebrate with the key to the city, an Olympic-style gold medal and induction into the Southeastern Beefmasters Hall of Fame.

Charles Mizell, mayor of Bogalusa, La., honored Berenson with the key to the city, home of the Bogalusa Heart Study. At the grand opening of the study’s new offices, Mizell talked about what the heart study has meant and continues to mean to the people of Bogalusa, especially the participants who have remained committed to it for more than 40 years.

Both current and past study staff members attended the event, and Berenson declared that the honor was really theirs. Without the dedication and commitment of the staff, Berenson said, the study could never have come as far as it has.

Berenson also was recognized for his contributions to preventive cardiology in Cincinnati at the annual meeting of the International Childhood Cardiovascular Cohort Consortium. Berenson received the Paavo Nurmi Foundation International Award, a golden disc that looks like an Olympic gold medal — not surprising since Paavo Nurmi was a celebrated Finnish runner who earned a dozen Olympic medals, nine of them gold.

While much of Berenson’s life has been spent working with study participants in Bogalusa, he is also a cattle rancher with a 1,000-acre farm in Poplarville, Miss. He has been an active participant in the local cattle trade for decades, buying, trading and selling cattle throughout the Southeast. In September, the Southeastern Beefmaster Breeders Association recognized Berenson’s long ranching history and inducted him into their Hall of Fame.

Berenson continues to work with colleagues from around the world and is actively engaged in an effort to archive the history of the Bogalusa Heart Study. He holds two degrees from Tulane.

Dee Boling is director of communications for the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu