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APS Contact: Donna Krupa


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Tulane University Professor to Receive American Physiological Society’s Top Honor

L. Gabriel Navar Recipient of Walter B. Cannon Award

SAN DIEGO—L. Gabriel (“Gabby”) Navar, Ph.D., professor and chairman of the Department of Physiology, and Co-Director of the Renal and Hypertension Center at Tulane Health Sciences Center, will receive the American Physiological Society’s (APS) Walter B. Cannon Award at this year’s annual meeting. It is the Society’s pre-eminent lecture award and is designed to recognize an outstanding scientist for his or her contributions to the field.  Dr. Navar’s selection acknowledges his significant contributions to the study of renal (kidney) physiology and its relationship to hypertension (high blood pressure).

Renal Physiology and Hypertension

Dr. Navar’s early work focused on understanding basic interactions between the blood flow to the kidneys and the amount of salt and water excreted from the body, and eventually the interactions between blood pressure and the excretion of salt and water. Over time, he and others came to understand that the kidney’s ability to regulate excretion of salt and water was very important in regulating blood pressure and that blood pressure was also important in regulating the body’s salt and water balance. 

They also came to understand that the most important hormonal system involved in regulating salt balance in the body is the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Ultimately they discovered that this system affects salt excretion through multiple actions and that the RAS plays a key role in regulating blood pressure and, when inappropriately activated, causing hypertension. He and others have now focused their efforts on understanding how this system becomes disrupted in a way that leads to hypertension and, by interacting with other systems, causes injury to the kidneys and other organs.

These findings have been important in helping physicians, researchers, and others find ways to address the skyrocketing problem of hypertension. This disorder affects one in three American adults and can lead to heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States. In 2010 the cost of hypertension was approximately $93.5 billion. 

A Career in Science and Service 

Dr. Navar’s original intent on entering college was to become a veterinarian but during his academic studies, he was greatly influenced by famed University of Mississippi physiologist Arthur C. Guyton who was the catalyst for the course change in his scientific career.  Under Dr. Guyton, Navar went on to receive his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi.  He also spent a year at Duke University, where he learned techniques to study the function of individual nephrons in the kidneys.  He held faculty appointments at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.

In 1988 he joined Tulane University School of Medicine where he has built a successful research program which has contributed significantly to fundamental research in the areas of renal hemodynamics, hypertension, and the RAS.  Though the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 left a devastating impact on the Hypertension and Renal Center that Navar co-directs, the programs ultimately rebounded as robust as ever.

Dr. Navar is a former President of the APS and former Associate Editor of the American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology, and has been active on many of the Society’s committees. In 2006 he received the Distinguished Mentor and Scientist award from the APS’ Women in Physiology Committee in recognition of his dedication and commitment to training young physiologists. He received the Ray G. Daggs Award in 2008 from APS for his service contributions to the Society.

Dr. Navar will be the 30th recipient of the Cannon Award which will be presented on Saturday, April 21. Immediately afterward he will deliver the Physiology in Perspective: The Walter B. Cannon Award Lecture. His lecture is entitled, “The Wisdom of the Body Revisited: A Tribute to Walter B. Cannon and His Concept of Homeostasis as applied to Pathophysiology of Hypertension.”  The events are part of the 125th anniversary of the APS which is part of the meeting Experimental Biology 2012, being held April 21-25 at the San Diego Convention Center.

About the Cannon Award

Walter B. Cannon was a renowned physiologist who is best known for his development of the concept of the emergency function of the sympathetic nervous system. This led to the development of the key physiological concept of homeostasis.  Dr. Cannon was affiliated with the APS for nearly 40 years, including two terms as president (1914-1916). He is commemorated each year with the Walter B. Cannon Memorial Lecture, a plenary lecture given at the Society’s annual meeting.

About the American Physiological Society (APS)

The American Physiological Society (APS) is a nonprofit organization devoted to fostering education, scientific research, and dissemination of information in the physiological sciences. The Society was founded in 1887 and today has more than 10,500 members. APS publishes 13 scholarly, peer-reviewed journals covering specialized aspects of physiology. Eleven of the journals are published monthly.

NOTE TO EDITORS: To schedule an interview with Dr. Navar, please contact Donna Krupa at, 301.634.7209 (office) or 703.967.2751 (cell) or Arthur Nead (Tulane) at,  504.247.1443

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues, and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first US society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 11,000 members and publishes 14 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.


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