June 24, 1996
Media Contact: Kate Pipkin
Phone: (410) 955-7552
E-mail: pipkin@jhudis.dev.jhu.edu

Martha N. Hill, Ph.D., R.N., a research director and associate professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, is president-elect of the American Heart Association (AHA). With a background in disease prevention and behavioral science, she is the first nurse and the first non-physician ever to hold the position of president. Hill is the fifth person to lead the 4 million volunteer association from Johns Hopkins. Previous Hopkins physicians who have been AHA presidents are E. Cowles Andrus, Helen Taussig, Richard Ross and Myron Weisfeldt.

Elected to the position on June 23, 1996, at the annual AHA Delegate Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia, Hill will serve one year as president-elect, one year as president and one year as immediate past-president.

"The goal of this organization is to support the development of new knowledge to decrease disability and death due to cardiovascular disease and stroke," says Hill, "and my hope is to bring attention to and an appreciation for the need to integrate basic scientific advances and patient care."

Active in the AHA since 1974, Hill is currently director of Hopkins' Center for Nursing Research and a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. She holds joint faculty appointments with the School of Medicine and the School of Hygiene and Public Health, and is director of the post-doctoral program at the School of Nursing.

"Dr. Hill brings invaluable knowledge and experience to the Association," says Sidney C. Smith, Jr., M.D., immediate past-president of the AHA and professor of medicine, chief of cardiology and director of the Academic Center for Cardiovascular Disease at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "Her background in prevention and behavioral science is imperative as medicine moves into a broader health care delivery system."

Hill is currently working as principal investigator, co-principal investigator or investigator on four research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health for more than $6 million. Her main research focus is preventing and controlling high blood pressure in young, urban, African American males.

"My interest is how health care professionals can influence behavior," says Hill. "About 50 percent of our population dies of cardiovascular disease and the AHA is increasingly focused on educational and behavioral strategies to address these disorders."

The American Heart Association, with 4.2 million volunteers nationwide, celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. As president, Hill will serve as the scientific spokesperson for the AHA and play a lead role in discussions that influence the policies and strategies of the association.

"The focus should not be that Dr. Hill is the first nurse to be named president-elect but that she is clearly the most qualified candidate," says Jan L. Breslow, M.D. newly-elected president of the AHA and the Frederick Henry Leonhardt Professor at the Rockefeller University. "Dr. Hill has demonstrated strong leadership at the national and affiliate levels of the AHA as well as in the AHA scientific councils. As a result, she is in an excellent position to enhance our activities in all areas and further the mission of the AHA."

-- JHMI --
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