Clinical Heart and Vascular Center

Cardiology Fellow Dr. Glynnis Garry Wins AHA’s ‘Katz Prize’ – Making History

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Dr. Glynnis Garry

The American Heart Association (AHA) has named UT Southwestern cardiology fellow Glynnis A. Garry, M.D., winner of its prestigious Louis N. and Arnold M. Katz Basic Research Prize for 2020.

One of the AHA’s oldest and most respected awards, the “Katz Prize” recognizes research involving biochemical, cellular, molecular, and genetic studies in basic cardiovascular science and is intended to encourage new investigators to continue research careers that will impact the field.

Part of the award’s esteem is that it has, in fact, augured future renown in cardiovascular research among its long list of recipients. Notably on that list is Dr. Garry’s father, Daniel J. Garry, M.D., Ph.D., who won the award 23 years ago, when he likewise was a cardiology fellow at UT Southwestern. Today, he is a Professor of Medicine and cardiologist specializing in advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation at the University of Minnesota’s Lillehei Heart Institute, where his lab focuses on the molecular mechanisms of cardiac development and regeneration.

Dr. Glynnis Garry’s win is reportedly the first time in AHA history that two generations of the same family have received this distinguished award – and it is certainly the first time in UT Southwestern’s history.

Presented Nov. 15 during the 93rd annual AHA Scientific Sessions – this year, for the first time, a “fully virtual” event – the 2020 Katz Prize highlighted Dr. Garry’s manuscript titled “The histone reader PHF7 cooperates with the SWI/SNF complex at cardiac super enhancers to promote direct cardiac reprogramming.”

Dr. Garry’s groundbreaking research, performed in the lab of Eric Olson, Ph.D., Professor and founding Chair of the UTSW Department of Molecular Biology, investigates how the protein PHF7, an epigenetic factor, can be used to reprogram adult cardiac fibroblasts into a myocyte fate – an important step toward the ultimate goal of remuscularization of the injured heart.

“This is research that will be of great utility to the cardiac field,” says Dr. Olson, himself the winner of the 1999 AHA Basic Research Prize. “I have known Glynnis as her scientific mentor for the past six years. I have watched her grow rapidly in her knowledge of and dedication to deeply mechanistic science while maintaining focus on clinically relevant cardiovascular problems. Importantly, she is highly effective at distilling and communicating her science through both writing and oral presentation. She has not only earned respect from her colleagues in my laboratory but has shown real leadership qualities and become a central figure in our group. In short, Glynnis Garry is the complete package.”

“She has not only earned respect from her colleagues in my laboratory but has shown real leadership qualities and become a central figure in our group. In short, Glynnis Garry is the complete package.”

Eric Olson, Ph.D.

Joseph A. Hill, M.D., Ph.D., Chief of Cardiology at UT Southwestern, concurs. He notes that Dr. Garry’s Katz Prize-winning work has “uncommon potential for therapeutic translation” and that, beyond that, the sky is the limit for her career in the field.

“I know Glynnis very well from several years of close interaction,” says Dr. Hill, who is also the Director of UT Southwestern’s Harry S. Moss Heart Center. “She has an enormously bright future as a fully independent physician-scientist. She is knowledgeable, hardworking, enthusiastic, and especially collegial and collaborative. She is the ‘real deal,’ one emerging in a world with relatively few independent physician-scientists who happen to be female.”

It can be said that Dr. Garry is entirely comfortable with that world. In addition to her father’s illustrious work in the field, her mother, Mary G. Garry, Ph.D., also leads her own research lab at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where she is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Cardiovascular Division, conducting investigations in, among other things, the neural control of cardiovascular responses to exercise.

Dr. Glynnis Garry’s win is reportedly the first time in AHA history that two generations of the same family have received this distinguished award – and it is certainly the first time in UT Southwestern’s history.

Growing up as the eldest of the four Garry children, Glynnis often joined her parents in their labs on weekends. Her interest in science persisted as she pursued summer research projects during high school, as an undergraduate at Notre Dame, and eventually in medical school.

She earned her medical degree at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where she was awarded the esteemed Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Fellowship, through which she trained in Dr. Olson’s laboratory at UT Southwestern for two years. During that time, she obtained foundational and rigorous training in molecular biology and co-authored two major publications, one of which was paradigm-shifting in the satellite cell field. She graduated Alpha Omega Alpha from Vanderbilt in 2016, receiving the highest award from the Department of Medicine, the Rudolph H. Kampmeier Prize in Medicine. Committed to a career in cardiology as a physician-scientist, she matched into the Cardiovascular Physician-Scientist Training program at UT Southwestern and excelled through her internal medicine residency, obtaining the distinguished honor of being named the Donald W. Seldin Scholar for Research. Following completion of her residency in 2018, Dr. Garry rejoined Dr. Olson’s lab to continue her scientific pursuits as a cardiology fellow.

“I am incredibly grateful to my mentor, Dr. Eric Olson, for his mentorship and investment in my career development. This award is a testament to the outstanding research environment in the Olson laboratory and the support that the UTSW Cardiology and Physician-Scientist Training Programs provide,” Dr. Garry says. “I’m convinced there’s no other place like it.”

Her father agrees: “The Katz Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for young investigators in cardiovascular science, and all the finalists presented discoveries that will impact the field,” he says. “I think the success of the Katz awardees is a testament to the outstanding research environment at UTSW, the supportive role of outstanding mentors such as Dr. Olson and Dr. Hill, and the ability of young investigators to thrive and contribute substantively to the field.”

Candidates for the Katz Prize include Ph.D.s and/or M.D.s who have completed training only within the past four years or who are still within the first four years after their first faculty appointment.

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