Robert Wilson, an alumnus of Penn State University, has been honored with a 2011 Alumni Fellow Award. The Alumni Fellow Award is the most prestigious award given by the Penn State Alumni Association. Since 1973, the Alumni Fellow Award has been given to select alumni who, as leaders in their professional fields, are nominated by an academic college and accept an invitation from the president of the University to return to campus to share their expertise with students, faculty and administrators.
Wilson, who currently serves as director of both the University of Minnesota's Interventional-Cardiology Fellowship Program and the University of Minnesota Physicians Clinical-Cardiovascular Services, has dedicated his professional life to developing new methods for diagnosing and treating heart disease, and to training new physicians. His research career initially focused on coronary physiology in humans. He developed the first catheter to measure coronary blood flow in humans, and described the effects of atherosclerosis and transplantation on coronary blood flow. He also first identified the effects of reinnervation during surgery of the transplanted human heart. Later, he developed semi-computerized injection systems for coronary angiography that now are used for millions of patients worldwide. More recently, Wilson has focused his research on the development of a prosthetic heart valve that can be inserted through a small catheter, eliminating the need for open-heart valve surgery. This device is now being tested in clinical trials.
Wilson holds numerous patents for cardiovascular treatment devices. The National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association, and private individuals have supported his research. He has written numerous scientific papers and review articles, and he has contributed chapters to many medical textbooks. He is a fellow of the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions, the American Heart Association, and the Council on Circulation, and he is a member of the Central Society for Clinical Investigation, the Hennepin County Medical Society, the American Federation for Clinical Research, and the American College of Physicians.
Wilson's previous honors include an Outstanding Science Alumnus Award from Penn State in 2001, a Teacher of the Year Award from the Cardiovascular Division of the University of Minnesota in 1996, a Clinician Scientist Award from the American Heart Association in 1985, a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health in 1984, and an Outstanding Clinical Teacher Award from the Department of Medicine of the University of Texas Health Science Center in 1981.
Wilson completed his medical residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 1980 and his cardiology fellowship at the University of Iowa in 1984. He joined the University of Minnesota faculty in 1986, where he helped to establish a training program for interventional cardiologists. From 1988 to 2004, Wilson served as the director of the University of Minnesota Medical Center at Fairview's cardiac-catheterization laboratory.
Wilson earned a medical degree at the University of Iowa in 1977. He received a bachelor's degree in premedicine from Penn State in 1973.