Women's Leadership Committee Members

WLC Chair

Isabella Grumbach, MD, PhD, FAHA

Professor, Abboud Cardiovascular Research Center, Departments of Internal Medicine and Radiation Oncology,
Vice-Chair for Research, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Iowa City, Iowa

Isabella graduated from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany) before training in Cardiology at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Germany). She came to the US to pursue a career as physician/scientist and completed clinical training at Cook-County-Hospital and Emory University and postdoctoral training at the University of Illinois and Emory University.

Her VA- and NIH-funded research focuses on mitochondrial biology, calcium- and ROS-dependent pathway in models of vascular injury and hypertension. Isabella has been a member of the American Heart Association since 2002 and has been involved in various AHA activities from grant review to national advocacy. Since she has been supported by the AHA at various career stages, she would like to give back by helping other women scientists and clinicians attain their fullest potential. She has been a member of the WLC since 2014 and currently serves as Vice-Chair. She is also an active clinician and attends on inpatient services and in the echocardiography laboratory at VA Medical Center and the University of Iowa Hospital.


WLC Vice Chair


Elena Aikawa, MD, PhD, FAHA

Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Director of the Vascular Biology Program at the Center for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CICS); Founding Director of the Heart Valve Translational Research Program (HVTRP) and Associate Head of Section of Cardiovascular Life Sciences, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Boston, Mass.

Dr. Elena Aikawa is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is also Director of the Vascular Biology Program at the Center for Interdisciplinary Sciences (CICS), Founding Director of the Heart Valve Translational Research Program (HVTRP) and Associate Head of Section of Cardiovascular Life Sciences at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Dr. Aikawa is a passionate advocate for the early imaging and treatment of calcific aortic valve disease. Dr. Aikawa’s primary research focuses on the development of new therapies to prevent, treat and cure calcific aortic valve stenosis, a disease that currently has no treatment options other than valve replacement. She was at the forefront in the discovery of inflammation-dependent mechanisms of cardiovascular calcification (Circulation 2007). Her studies contributed to the discovery of calcifying extracellular vesicles as a precursor of microcalcification (Nature Materials, 2016; Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2016). More recently she used systems approaches, involving multi-omics and network medicine, to identify novel therapeutic targets (Circulation, 2018).

Dr. Aikawa has been a member of the Working Group on Calcific Aortic Valve Stenosis and the Alliance of Investigators on Calcific Aortic Valve Disease of the National Institutes of Health. She holds editorial positions at the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, Circulation Research, Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, and PLoS ONE. Dr. Aikawa has delivered more than 130 keynote lectures and cardiovascular grand rounds, and has authored more than 200 articles on cardiovascular pathobiology. Her research program has been continuously supported by NIH funding.

Dr. Aikawa remains committed to advancing the careers of women in science and medicine. She cofounded the BWH Committee for Internationally Trained Women Faculty in 2004 and founded the annual Women in Medicine and Science Symposium at BWH in 2012. In 2016, Dr. Aikawa was elected as President of the International Society for Applied Cardiovascular Biology (ISACB). She is serving as the society’s first female president. She was elected as Vice-chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee of American Heart Association Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology in 2018.


WLC Immediate Past Chair


Vasanthy 'Vas' Narayanaswami, PhD, FAHA

Professor of Biochemistry, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, California State University Long Beach
Long Beach, Calif.

Vas obtained her BSc in Chemistry from University of Madras and PhD in Chemistry (Biochemistry) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Chennai, India. She did her post doctoral work as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the University of Dusseldorf in Germany, and at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. She is currently a Biochemistry faculty at Cal State Long Beach.

Vas?s research interest (currently funded by the NIH, and by the AHA in the past) is focused on the structural and functional analysis of apolipoprotein E, oxidative stress and transendothelial transport of HDL, and its role in cardiovascular/cerebrovascular disease, and in nanomedicine applications. She has been a member of AHA ATVB Council since 2001and member of the ATVB Women?s Leadership Committee since 2013. Vas has been actively involved in increasing diversity in biomedical research and maximizing access to research careers, peer reviewing committees, and in advocating the mission of the AHA. She is currently also a member of the AHA ATVB Diversity Committee.


WLC Members


Hong Chen, PhD

Assistant Professor, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School
Boston, Mass.

Hong is a Principal Investigator in the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. She completed her PhD and received exceptional postdoctoral training from Dr. Pietro De Camilli, a world-class premier cell biologist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale University. She developed a groundbreaking research program based on her discovery of a family of founding endocytic adaptor proteins, epsins, which resulted in a landmark publication in Nature. The discovery of epsins has opened brand new avenues for her exciting research program, which has been represented in several prestigious manuscripts including Nature and PNAS (Chen, et al. Nature, 1998, Chen, et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2003, 2005 and 2009).


Cynthia St. Hilaire, PhD

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology and the Vascular Medicine Institute University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Cindy received her BS in Molecular Genetics from the University of Vermont and PhD in Biochemistry from Boston University School of Medicine. She did a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Manfred Boehm at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute where her studies focused on the mechanisms regulating vascular remodeling processes. While in the Boehm lab she and colleagues at the NHLBI and NHGRI discovered the rare disease, Arterial Calcification due to Deficiency of CD73. She joined the University of Pittsburgh in July 2015 and her research focuses on characterizing the mechanisms underlying non-atherosclerotic vascular calcification and calcific aortic valve disease.


Sumitra Miriyala, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy, LSU Health Sciences Center
Shreveport, La.

Dr. Miriyala’s research involves evaluating genetic abnormalities of antioxidant enzymes, the mechanisms regulating gene expression and the impact these alterations have on the ability of humans to cope with oxidative stress. Her research focuses are on the novel mechanism by which oxidative stress activates mitochondrial retrograde signaling in cardiac tissues under life and death conditions.


Elizabeth Tarling, PhD

Assistant Professor, UCLA Division of Cardiology
Los Angeles, Calif.

Liz obtained her Bsc in Biochemistry and Biological Chemistry from the University of Nottingham (UK) and her PhD in Biomedical Science also from the University of Nottingham (UK). She did her post doctoral work at the University of California Los Angeles, where she now holds an Assistant Professor position. Her research is focused on understanding the regulation of lipid metabolism, inflammation, atherosclerosis and innate immunity.


Hong Wang, MD, PhD, EMBA

Director, Center for Metabolic Disease Research; Interim Chair, Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Associate Dean for Research; Laura H. Carnell Professor; Professor of Pharmacology, Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine
Philadelphia, Pa.

Dr. Hong Wang received her medical training from JinagXi Medical School, an MS degree from Peking Union Medical University, a PhD degree in Biochemistry from University of Montreal, and an EMBA degree from Fox Business School in Temple University. She did her post-doctoral fellowship in Harvard School of Public Health and had the first faculty position in Baylor College of Medicine.

She is the Director for the Center for Metabolic Disease Research, Interim Chair, Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Pharmacology in Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her research focuses on identifying biochemical and molecular mechanisms responsible for vascular injury in metabolic disorders, including hyperhomocysteinemia, diabetes and hyperlipidemia-induced cardiovascular disease.


Hanrui Zhang, MB, PhD

Cardiometabolic Genomics Program , Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine
Columbia University Irving Medical Center
New York, N.Y.

Hanrui received her medical degree at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and her PhD in Physiology & Pharmacology at the University of Missouri (MU). She did her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Her laboratory is interested in the mechanisms of cardiometabolic diseases with a particular focus on functional genomics of cardiometabolic disease GWAS loci, macrophage biology, and the genetic and molecular mechanisms that connect lipid metabolism to chronic inflammation in the broad area of human cardiometabolic diseases.


Mireille Ouimet, PhD

Scientist and Director of Cardiovascular Metabolism and Cell Biology Laboratory, University of Ottawa Heart Institute; Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Mireille Ouimet is a Scientist and Director of Cardiovascular Metabolism and Cell Biology Laboratory at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute and an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Ottawa.

Mireille obtained her BSc and PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Ottawa and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at New York University. Her research program aims to determine the role of autophagy in macrophage foam cell metabolism, inflammation and cholesterol trafficking and its linkage to the development and progression of atherosclerosis. Mireille is a member of the ATVB Early Career Committee and serves as the liaison to the WLC.