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Henry Pownall, PhD

Professor of Cardiology, Institute for Academic Medicine
Full Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College

Dr. Pownall’s doctoral training was in physical chemistry with postdoctoral fellowships in molecular spectroscopy at the University of Houston, and biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine with an emphasis on lipid metabolism. Over time he moved his studies from molecules to in vivo models, studying biophysics, peptide design, lipid synthesis and enzymology, and cell and molecular biology. His work is centered on high density lipoprotein therapeutics, and energy metabolism as it relates to obesity-linked diabetes and human lipid metabolism. A major goal of his research is to determine how alcohol ingestion contributes to enhanced postprandial lipemia, attendant pancreatitis, or alcohol-induced reduction of cardiovascular disease, an effect mediated by increased HDL-cholesterol.

His research is multidisciplinary, with extensive collaboration with structural biologists, endocrinologists, and x-ray crystallographers. Structural biologists provide expertise in lipid and lipoprotein structure by electron cryo microscopy. Endocrinologists have synergistic interests in the lipid disorders found in HIV-positive patients on highly active anti retroviral therapies. X-ray crystallographers help discern the total structure of Streptococcal serum opacity factor (SOF) for determination of structure function relationships.

Dr. Pownall maintains an active academic program. He is a member of three graduate programs at Baylor College of Medicine (Structural Computational Biology and Molecular Biophysics, Cell and Molecular Biology, and Cardiovascular Sciences) in which he teaches classes and serves on graduate advisory and qualifying exams committees. He is also active in community education, giving lectures on molecular ethics to local groups including several churches, home owner associations and garden clubs.

Description of Research

Dr. Pownall’s studies encompass multiple aspects of lipid metabolism, particularly HDL structure, properties and function in the context of obesity-linked diabetes and atherogenesis. His research goals are as follows:

-To determine if Streptococcal serum opacity factor (SOF) can enhance cholesterol disposal and reverse atherosclerosis
-To obtain a high resolution X-ray structure of SOF for the identification of active sites and design of SOF analogs
-To compare the energy storage potential of central and femoral gluteal depots, as they relate to obesity-linked diabetes
-To assess the effects of acetate, as an alcohol metabolite and in the food supply, on HDL levels and the onset of pancreatitis

Areas Of Expertise

Physical chemistry Obesity-linked diabetes Cholesterol transport Atherogenesis Fluorescence
Education & Training

, Baylor College of Medicine
, Northeastern University
, The University of Houston
, Wilkes College, Wilkes-Barre, PA

Acylation of lysine residues in human plasma high density lipoprotein increases stability and plasma clearance in vivo
Yang, Y, Rosales, C, Gillard, BK, Gotto, AM & Pownall, HJ 2016, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids, vol 1861, no. 11, pp. 1787-1795. DOI:

Neo High-Density Lipoprotein Produced by the Streptococcal Serum Opacity Factor Activity against Human High-Density Lipoproteins Is Hepatically Removed via Dual Mechanisms
Rodriguez, PJ, Gillard, BK, Barosh, R, Gotto, AM, Rosales, C & Pownall, HJ 2016, Biochemistry, vol 55, no. 41, pp. 5845-5853. DOI:

Changes in regional body composition over 8 years in a randomized lifestyle trial: The look AHEAD study
Pownall, HJ, Schwartz, AV, Bray, GA, Berkowitz, RI, Lewis, CE, Boyko, EJ, Jakicic, JM, Chen, H, Heshka, S, Gregg, EW & Johnson, KC 2016, Obesity, vol 24, no. 9, pp. 1899-1905. DOI:

Association of weight loss maintenance and weight regain on 4-year changes in CVD risk factors: The action for health in diabetes (Look AHEAD) clinical trial
Wing, RR, Espeland, MA, Clark, JM, Hazuda, HP, Knowler, WC, Pownall, HJ, Unick, J, Wadden, T & Wagenknecht, L 2016, Diabetes Care, vol 39, no. 8, pp. 1345-1355. DOI:

Changes in regional body composition over 8 years in a randomized lifestyle trial: The look AHEAD study
Pownall, HJ, Schwartz, AV, Bray, GA, Berkowitz, RI, Lewis, CE, Boyko, EJ, Jakicic, JM, Chen, H, Heshka, S, Gregg, EW, Johnson, KC & Look AHEAD Research Group 2016, Obesity. DOI:

Effects of visceral adipose tissue reduction on CVD risk factors independent of weight loss: The Look AHEAD study
Sanguankeo, A, Lazo, M, Upala, S, Brancati, FL, Bonekamp, S, Pownall, HJ, Balasubramanyam, A & Clark, JM 2016, Endocrine Research, pp. 1-10. DOI:

Speciated High-Density Lipoprotein Biogenesis and Functionality
Rosales, C, Davidson, WS, Gillard, BK, Gotto, AM & Pownall, HJ 2016, Current Atherosclerosis Reports, vol 18, no. 5, 25. DOI:

E-selectin-targeting delivery of microRNAs by microparticles ameliorates endothelial inflammation and atherosclerosis
Ma, S, Tian, XY, Zhang, Y, Mu, C, Shen, H, Bismuth, J, Pownall, HJ, Huang, Y & Wong, WT 2016, Scientific Reports, vol 6, 22910. DOI:

Streptococcal serum opacity factor promotes cholesterol ester metabolism and bile acid secretion in vitro and in vivo
Gillard, BK, Rodriguez, PJ, Fields, DW, Raya, JL, Lagor, WR, Rosales, C, Courtney, HS, Gotto, AM & Pownall, HJ 2016, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids, vol 1861, no. 3, pp. 196-204. DOI:

Direct Measurement of the Structure of Reconstituted High-Density Lipoproteins by Cryo-EM
Murray, SC, Gillard, BK, Ludtke, SJ & Pownall, HJ 2016, Biophysical Journal, vol 110, no. 4, pp. 810-816. DOI:

New Insights into the High-Density Lipoprotein Dilemma
Pownall, HJ & Gotto, AM 2016, Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, vol 27, no. 1, pp. 44-53. DOI:

High-Density Lipoprotein Processing and Premature Cardiovascular Disease
Rosales, C , Gillard, BK , Gotto, AM & Pownall, HJ 2015, Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal, vol 11, no. 3, pp. 181-5. DOI:

Apolipoprotein AI deficiency inhibits serum opacity factor activity against plasma high density lipoprotein via a stabilization mechanism
Rosales, C, Patel, N, Gillard, BK, Yelamanchili, D, Yang, Y, Courtney, HS, Santos, RD, Gotto, AM & Pownall, HJ 2015, Biochemistry, vol 54, no. 14, pp. 2295-2302. DOI:

Alcohol: a nutrient with multiple salutary effects
Pownall, HJ , Rosales, C , Gillard, BK & Gotto, AM 2015, Nutrients, vol 7, no. 3, pp. 1992-2000. DOI:

Changes in body composition over 8 years in a randomized trial of a lifestyle intervention: The look AHEAD study
Pownall, HJ, Bray, GA, Wagenknecht, LE, Walkup, MP, Heshka, S, Hubbard, VS, Hill, J, Kahn, SE, Nathan, DM, Schwartz, AV & Johnson, KC 2015, Obesity, vol 23, no. 3, pp. 565-572. DOI:

Alcohol: A nutrient with multiple salutary effects
Pownall, HJ , Rosales, C , Gillard, BK & Gotto, AM 2015, Nutrients, vol 7, no. 3, pp. 1992-2000. DOI:

Estrogen: An emerging regulator of insulin action and mitochondrial function
Gupte, AA , Pownall, HJ & Hamilton, DJ 2015, Journal of Diabetes Research, vol 2015, 916585. DOI:

Prevention and treatment of atherosclerotic vascular disease: Hypolipidemic agents
Gotto, AM & Pownall, HJ 2015, . in Pathophysiology and Pharmacotherapy of Cardiovascular Disease. Springer International Publishing, pp. 589-611. DOI:

Implications of Look AHEAD for clinical trials and clinical practice
Wing, RR, Bolin, P, Brancati, FL, Bray, GA, Clark, JM, Coday, M, Crow, RS, Curtis, JM, Egan, CM, Espeland, MA, Evans, M, Foreyt, JP, Ghazarian, S, Gregg, EW, Harrison, B, Hazuda, HP, Hill, JO, Horton, ES, Hubbard, VS, Jakicic, JM, Jeffery, RW, Johnson, KC, Kahn, SE, Kitabchi, AE, Knowler, WC, Lewis, CE, Barbara, MC, Montez, MG, Murillo, A, Nathan, DM, Patricio, J, Peters, A, Xavier, PS, Pownall, H, Reboussin, D, Regensteiner, JG, Rickman, AD, Ryan, DH, Safford, M, Wadden, TA, Wagenknecht, LE, West, DS, Williamson, DF, Yanovski, SZ, Brancati, L, Swartzc, L, Charleston, J, Cheskin, L, Stewart, K, Rubin, R, Arceci, J, Danus, S, Bolen, D, Diggins, D, Evans, S, Johnson, M, Lambert, J, Longenecker, S, Michalski, K, Jiggetts, D, Sapun, C, Sowers, M, Tyler, K, Strate, A, Greenway, FL, Williamson, D, Church, T, Champagne, C, Myers, V, Arceneaux, J, Rau, K, Begnaud, M, Cerniauskas, B, Duncan, C, Guay, H, Johnson, C, Jones, L, Landry, K, Lingle, M, Perault, J, Puckett, C, Smith, M, Cox, L, Lockett, M, Thomas, S, Glasser, S, DiLillo, V, Bragg, C, Dobelstein, A, Hannum, S, Hubbell, A, King, J, DeLee, L, Morgan, A, Christie Oden, L, Wallace, J, Roche, C, Roche, J, Turman, J, Cagliero, E, Hayward, K, Turgeon, H, Goldman, V, Delahanty, L, Anderson, E, Bissett, L, Harlan, V, Michel, T, Larkin, M, Stevens, C, Jackson, SD, Hamdy, O, Enrique Caballero, A, Bain, S, Bovaird, E, Fargnoli, B, Spellman, J, Galuski, K, Ann, GF, Lambert, L, Ledbury, S, Malloy, M, Ovalle, K, Blackburn, G, Mantzoros, C, McNamara, A, Spellman, K, Miller, M, Wyatt, H, Van Dorsten, B, Regensteiner, J, Bochert, D, Coelho, L, Cohrs, P, Green, S, Hamilton, A, Hamilton, J, Leshchinskiy, E, Rome, L, Thompson, T, Craul, K, Wang, C, Reeves, RS, Gee, M, Balasubramanyam, A, Chu-Chen, H, Jones, P, Burrington, M, Gardner, CC, Griggs, S, Hamilton, M, Holley, V, Lee, S, Liscum, LL, Cantu-Lumbreras, S, Palencia, J, Schmidt, J, Thomas, J, White, C, Gresham, C, Lichtermann, L, Lee Taylor, J, Griffin, B, Valenski, D, Nyenwe, E, Lambeth, H, Mosby, M, Brewer, A, Clark, D, Crisler, A, Cunningham, G, Force, D, Green, D, Kores, R, Rosenthal, R, Smith, E, Skarphol, T, Thorson, C, Bantle, JP, Bruce Redmon, J, Brelje, K, Campbell, C, Hoelscher, L, Jaeb, M, LaJames, D, Laqua, P, Maddy, VA, Ockenden, T, Rice, BI, Tucker, AD, Voeller, SS, Walcheck, C, Xavier, PS, Pal, C, Allen, L, Crane, J, Chong, L, Hirsch, D, Holowaty, AA, Horowitz, M, Barbara, MC, Berkowitz, RI, Braunstein, S, Foster, G, Glick, H, Kumanyika, S, Schwartz, SS, Bell, Y, Carvajal, R, Chomentowski, H, Davenport, R, Fabricatore, A, Faulconbridge, L, Hesson, L, Iqbal, N, Kuehnel, R, Lipschutz, P, Mullen, M, Kelley, DE, Wesche-Thobaben, J, Kuller, LH, Kriska, A, Ewing, L, Korytkowski, M, Edmundowicz, D, Salata, R, Danchenko, R, DeBruce, T, Elnyczky, B, Garcia, DO, Harper, PH, Harrier, S, Heidingsfelder, D, Ives, D, Mancino, J, Martich, L, Murray, TY, Quirin, K, Ritchea, JR, Copelli, S, Bright, R, Pera, V, Jakicic, J, Tate, D, Gorin, A, Gallagher, K, Bach, A, Bancroft, B, Bertorelli, A, Carey, R, Charron, T, Chenot, H, Kimberley, CM, Coward, P, Cronkite, L, Currin, J, Daly, M, Egan, C, Ferguson, E, Foss, L, Gauvin, J, Kieffer, D, Lessard, L, Maier, D, Massaro, JP, Monk, T, Nicholson, R, Patterson, E, Phelan, S, Raynor, H, Raynor, D, Robinson, N, Robles, D, Tavares, J, Haffner, SM, Lorenzo, C, Coleman, CF, Granado, D, Hathaway, K, Isaac, CC, Ramirez, N, Knopp, R, Lipkin, E, Trence, D, Tsai, E, Fattaleh, B, Greenberg, D, Montgomery, B, Ivy, MT, Richmond, AA, Socha, J, Thomas, A, Wesley, A, Wheeler, D, Killean, T, Manus, C, Krakoff, J, Michaels, S, Bloomquist, P, Bennett, PH, Fallis, B, Hollowbreast, DF, Johnson, R, Meacham, M, Morris, C, Nelson, J, Percy, C, Poorthunder, P, Sangster, S, Shovestull, LA, Smart, M, Smiley, J, Thomas, T, Toledo, K, Beale, E, Konersman, K, Brenda, QV, Ramirez, E, Rios, G, Rodriguez, G, Ruelas, V, Sara, SD, Walker, M, Bahnson, JL, Jack Rejeski, W, Bertoni, AG, Lang, W, Lawlor, MS, Lefkowitz, D, Miller, GD, Reynolds, PS, Ribisl, PM, Vitolins, M, Beavers, D, Chen, H, Kitzman, D, Friedman, LM, Prineas, R, Samdarshi, T, Dotson, KM, Hodges, A, Dominique, LD, Wall, K, Williams, CC, Anderson, A, Barnes, JM, Barr, M, Beckner, TD, Davis, C, Thania Del, VF, Earl, T, Franks, M, Goode, C, Griffin, J, Harvin, L, Hontz, MA, Gaussoin, SA, Hire, DG, Hogan, P, King, M, Lane, K, Neiberg, RH, Rushing, JT, Sammah, EE, Walkup, MP, Windham, T, Nevitt, M, Schwartz, A, Shepherd, J, Rahorst, M, Palermo, L, Ewing, S, Hayashi, C, Maeda, J, Marcovina, SM, Hurting, J, Albers, JJ, Gaur, V, Soliman, EZ, Zhang, ZM, Susan, H, Hu, J, Keasler, L, Li, Y, Elizabeth, MD, Moran, R, Foushee, R, Hall, NJ, Harrison, B, Cooper, S, Kaufman, P, Stylianou, M & Zhang, P 2014, Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, vol 16, no. 12, pp. 1183-1191. DOI:

Impact of intensive lifestyle intervention on depression and health-related quality of life in type 2 diabetes: the Look AHEAD Trial
Rubin, RR, Wadden, TA, Bahnson, JL, Blackburn, GL, Brancati, FL, Bray, GA, Coday, M, Crow, SJ, Curtis, JM, Dutton, G, Egan, C, Evans, M, Ewing, L, Faulconbridge, L, Foreyt, J, Gaussoin, SA, Gregg, EW, Hazuda, HP, Hill, JO, Horton, ES, Hubbard, VS, Jakicic, JM, Jeffery, RW, Johnson, KC, Kahn, SE, Knowler, WC, Lang, W, Lewis, CE, Montez, MG, Murillo, A, Nathan, DM, Patricio, J, Peters, A, Pi-Sunyer, X, Pownall, H, Rejeski, WJ, Rosenthal, RH, Ruelas, V, Toledo, K, Van Dorsten, B, Vitolins, M, Williamson, D, Wing, RR, Yanovski, SZ, Zhang, P & Look AHEAD Research Group 2014, Diabetes Care, vol 37, no. 6, pp. 1544-53. DOI: