2020 Distinguished Scientist - Frank Sacks, MD, FAHA

Frank Sacks, MD, FAHA

Frank Sacks, MD, FAHA
Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Nutrition Department
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA


Dr. Sacks has been distinguished by sustained high accomplishment and impact, primarily in two fields, clinical trials of diet and cardiometabolic health, and human lipoprotein metabolism and risk of CHD.

Dr. Sacks led the committee that designed the DASH Study, which crafted a healthful eating pattern and demonstrated that it lowered blood pressure more effectively than previous dietary treatments. Subsequently, Dr. Sacks led the DASH-Sodium study, which determined the steep dose-response effect of dietary sodium on BP, and major beneficial additive effects of low salt and a dietary pattern rich in fruits and vegetables on BP. The DASH trials led to guidelines for prevention and treatment by many organizations, including the American Heart Association.

Dr. Sacks led the seminal PoundsLost trial which showed the similar effectiveness of diets containing variable percentages of calories from fat, protein or carbohydrate for long term weight loss, adding much needed flexibility to individualize weight loss diets. Participation in the behavioral program, rather than the macronutrient content of the diets, predicted extent of weight loss.

Dr. Sacks is acclaimed for discovering new species of human lipoproteins that differentially predict CHD. He authored over 35 research papers on apoC-III and apoE. A major finding was that the concentration of LDL that contains apoC-III is the strongest predictor of CHD among VLDL and LDL particles.

Currently, Dr. Sacks’s laboratory is studying HDL. He conducted the first in vivo studies of the metabolism of 4-5 HDL sizes and found that all are secreted into the circulation. He showed that HDL that contains apoE is especially active in flux pathways pertaining to reverse cholesterol transport such as particle expansion. These flux pathways are suppressed by apoC-III. Finally, in epidemiological studies, he found in four prospective US cohorts that HDL that contains apolipoprotein C-III predicted higher rates of CHD and diabetes.

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