Hiroko Nishimura, M.D., D.M.Sc., is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Physiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Memphis, TN, and currently Professor at the Niigata University of Health and Welfare, Niigata, Japan.
Hiroko was born in 1937 in Tokyo, Japan, and grew up in Niigata City, an old city at the Japanese seaside, during World War II. She received the M.D. degree in 1961 from Tokyo Medical and Dental University and the Degree of Medical Science in 1968 from the University of Tokyo. She joined the Department of Pharmacology, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, as a Visiting Instructor in 1969. Then, in 1973, she became a faculty member of the Department of Physiology at UTHSC, where she made major contributions in research, teaching, and professional services. Since her retirement from UTHSC in 2009, she has continued her research work at Niigata University and has been successful in competitively obtaining support from governmental research grants.
Dr. Nishimura has made many original contributions to our understanding of the neuro-humoral mechanisms regulating blood pressure and kidney function. Her innovative use of comparative physiology approaches and unique animal models has elucidated evolutionary aspects of biological functions that have had a broad impact on our understanding of human physiology and diseases. In particular, she has been known for her research on: 1) the evolution of the renin-angiotensin system and angiotensin receptors and their fundamental role in blood pressure regulation, 2) the vasodepressor action of angiotensin via nitric oxide and K channels, 3) vascular injury and atherosclerotic lesions caused by high blood pressure, and 4) the evolution of counter-current urine concentration mechanisms and aquaporins. Her current research involves epidemiological studies of low birth weight children in Japan and developmental origins of hypertension and kidney diseases.
Dr. Nishimura has devoted professional services to the cardiovascular and hypertension field. She is one of the founders of the Angiotensin Gordon Research Conferences, a member of cardiovascular-renal-hypertension grant review committees of NIH, NSF, and AHA, a parent committee member of NIH SCOR in hypertension and site visits, a program committee member of the High Blood Pressure Research Council and the American Physiological Society (APS), and chair of Eric Muirhead Hypertension Research Day in Tennessee. She has also served as an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Physiology for 12 years, and as an organizer of US-Japan Cooperative programs and many international and national symposia in the cardiovascular-renal field. She has trained and served as a sponsor/mentor for many postdoctoral fellows, graduates, and undergraduates, including many from under-served areas.
Dr. Nishimura is the recipient of many prestigious national and international awards, including AHA Established Investigator, the Grace Pickford Medal (highest honor of the International Congress of Comparative Endocrinology), lectureship plaques from the Tokyo Medical Association and from the Assembly of Professors of Collège de France, and the 2006 APS August Krogh Distinguished Lectureship. She also received the 2011 Page and Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award from the AHA Council for High Blood Pressure Research, and the Niigata Nippo Culture Award for Scholarly Accomplishments in Japan. This award was started in 1947 and she is the first female recipient for the scholarly activity division.
Hiroko's second career is dancing. She began dancing when she was in elementary school, but gave it up because she decided to pursue a professional career in science. When she finished her clinical residency training, she started to dance ballet and thereafter continued for over 40 years. She also danced ballroom dance as her deceased husband was a professional dancer. In December last year, she appeared on stage, dancing in the first act of the Nutcracker for the recital of a local ballet school.