1. Hamm, Larry F. PhD, MAACVPR, FACSM
  2. Past Editor-in-Chief,

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Dr Art Leon, professor emeritus in the School of Kinesiology and director emeritus of the renowned Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene and Exercise Science at the University of Minnesota (U of M), passed away earlier this year at the age of 90 yr. He received his BS degree from the University of Florida and his MS and MD degrees from the University of Wisconsin. Art completed specialty training in biochemistry, internal medicine, and cardiology.

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Dr Leon started his medical career in the US Army Medical Corps, with an initial posting in France, followed by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, District of Columbia. Following completion of his Army active duty, he was the director of the Clinical Research Center at the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.


In 1973, Art was recruited to come to the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene at the U of M, which was in the School of Public Health at that time. His initial work there involved the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) researching the role of smoking, blood pressure, and high cholesterol on men at high risk for a myocardial infarction. This pioneering study identified the strong association of serum cholesterol levels with coronary artery disease. Dr Leon was also the principal investigator, at the U of M site, for the landmark HEalth, RIsk Factors, Exercise Training And GEnetics (HERITAGE) Family Study. This was the largest exercise study ever funded by NIH and produced >350 peer-reviewed publications. In total, Dr Leon was involved in 14 research studies funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and published 317 peer-reviewed manuscripts.


Dr Leon was a member of the Editorial Board for the first guideline publication on the impact of physical activity on the health of Americans-Physical Activity: A Report of the Surgeon General, 1996. He was also the lead author of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention of Coronary Artery Disease published in 2005 by the American Heart Association in collaboration with the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR).


In conjunction with conducting important research related to risk factors for coronary artery disease and exercise physiology, Dr Leon taught graduate classes in the School of Public Health and then in the School of Kinesiology at the U of M starting in 1992. While a member of the School of Kinesiology, he was the director of the Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene and Exercise Science and the Henry Taylor Endowed Professor of Kinesiology until his retirement in 2018.


In addition to his prolific 45-yr career at the U of M, Art was a founding fellow of AACVPR, a director on the AACVPR board (1990-1992), chair of the AACVPR Research Committee (1990-1994), and frequently attended AACVPR annual meetings. The American College of Sports Medicine presented Dr Leon with a Citation Award in 1995 and an Honor Award in 2016. He received many additional recognitions and awards from a variety of other professional organizations.


Larry F. Hamm, PhD, MAACVPR, FACSM


Past Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention