OHSU scientist Beth Habecker named 2021 AAAS fellow

Beth Habecker named AAAS Fellow

Habecker’s lab studies the nerves that control the heart in order to understand how neuron-heart interactions during injury and disease contribute to poor outcomes — and what can be done to prevent cardiac damage.

Beth Habecker, Ph.D., professor of chemical physiology and biochemistry, OHSU School of Medicine, has received one of the top honors from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

On Jan. 26, she was named an AAAS Fellow, an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Each year, the association elects members whose “efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished.”

AAAS recognized Habecker in the pharmaceutical sciences section “for distinguished contributions elucidating the roles of the sympathetic nervous system in cardiovascular disease.

“I’m honored to be selected an AAAS Fellow,” said Habecker. “This recognition from peers is gratifying. I’m thankful for the great people who have worked in my lab over the years as they are the ones who made this possible.”

Habecker reflects on her scientific career in this Physiological Society essay.

A member of the faculty since 1997, Habecker holds additional appointments in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and the Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. Her research program focuses on sympathetic dysfunction in cardiovascular disease with a particular focus on myocardial infarction and the changes that occur in sympathetic nerves within the heart after myocardial infarction. Her lab has identified mechanisms involved in axon degeneration, axon sprouting/regeneration and alterations in neurotransmitter and peptide production. The team has also connected changes in cardiac nerves to altered arrhythmia susceptibility and cardiac function.

Beyond her lab, Habecker co-directs a joint research collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and OHSU called the Pacific Northwest BioMedical Innovation Co-laboratory (PMedIC).

She maintains significant roles in the school’s academic mission. She is on the graduate faculty in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and also the Neuroscience Graduate Program. She also served as interim chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology (now Department of Chemical Physiology and Biochemistry).

This year, 564 scientists, engineers, and innovators have been elected AAAS Fellows. The new fellows will be recognized later this year at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

Habecker joins numerous previously elected OHSU AAAS Fellows, including Michael Chapman (2005), Paul Brehm (2008), Craig Jahr (2009), Caroline Enns (2013), Gary Westbrook (2002), Gail Mandel (2005), Robert Liskay (2008), Eric Gouaux (2007), Lisa Coussens (2018), John Crabbe (2018), and Sara Courtneidge (2019).

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