Stanley Hazen, a professor of molecular medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, was recently honored with an inaugural Top 10 Clinical Research Achievement Award. The award comes from the Clinical Research Forum, an organization comprised of the nation’s most acclaimed academic medical centers and other groups, in recognition of Hazen’s Nature article, “Gut flora dependent metabolism of dietary phosphatidylcholine contributes to cardiovascular disease.”

Hazen, who also is vice chair of translational research at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, and his research team discovered a link between gut flora—an individual’s intestinal microbes—and heart disease risk. Preliminary studies have shown gut flora impacts development of heart disease in both animal models and in humans.

Hazen and the other award-winning researchers were honored recently during the Clinical Research Forum’s annual meeting and awards dinner in Washington, D.C.

“These studies are particularly exciting,” Hazen said, “because they show an entirely new path for generating new classes of therapeutics for the treatment and prevention of heart disease.”

His next step in the research will test the theory that gut flora metabolism is linked to cardiovascular disease. This research seeks to identify gut flora-generated by-products in the blood that contribute to development of heart disease and serve as diagnostic markers of cardiac risk.