Dr. Cohn is a 1956 graduate of the Cornell University Medical School, and completed his internship and residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. From 1960 to 1965, he was a cardiovascular research fellow and clinical investigator at Georgetown University and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC. In 1965 he became the chief of hypertension and clinical hemodynamics at this VA Medical Center, and a professor of medicine at Georgetown University. Dr. Cohn joined the University of Minnesota faculty as chair of the cardiovascular division in 1974, and served in this position through 1996.
Dr. Cohn is internationally recognized for his numerous contributions to the cardiology field. He fostered applying physiologic principles to the management of cardiovascular disease, pioneered assessing cardiovascular function in patients with hypertension, acute myocardial infarction, shock, and heart failure, and first identified the syndrome of right-ventricular infarction. Dr. Cohn was among the first to advocate bedside hemodynamic monitoring in acutely-ill patients, a concept that led directly to the development of intensive-care units. These seminal discoveries establish Dr. Cohn as a founder of many contemporary therapies for heart disease.
Dr. Cohn’s contributions to the study and treatment of heart failure are many and exemplary. His laboratory and clinical research established that left-ventricular structural remodeling is the basis for progressive heart failure, and he was among the first to identify neurohormonal activation in vasoconstriction as a key contributor to this progression.
Dr. Cohn organized and chaired the first long-term clinical trials in heart failure, the Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study Program on Vasodilator Therapy of Heart Failure (V-HeFT). Known for his leadership in designing and conducting clinical trials that determine the efficacy of potential therapies for heart failure, Dr. Cohn was the first to document and advocate the value of vasodilator drugs in improving left-ventricular function. This discovery led to the development of vasodilating and neurohormonal-inhibiting medications (including nitroprusside, nitrates with hydralazine, and converting-enzyme inhibitors) that are the current standard of care.
In 1994, Dr. Cohn founded the Heart Failure Society of America, now the world’s premier organization dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure, and served as its first president. He also founded the first journal dedicated to heart failure, the Journal of Cardiac Failure, and was its editor-in-chief. He serves on the editorial boards of many major journals, is the author of more than 700 scientific publications, and is the co-editor of two texts, Cardiovascular Medicine and Drug Treatment of Heart Failure. Dr. Cohn has written extensively on the topics of circulatory physiology, hypertension, vascular compliance, nervous-system control mechanisms in heart failure, and congestive heart failure and its treatment.
Dr. Cohn’s recent work involves screening asymptomatic individuals for cardiovascular disease, so that therapy can be initiated and disease progression prevented. His innovative early-detection methods include diagnosing stiffening in small arteries. Developed at the University of Minnesota, this methodology is now FDA-approved and marketed worldwide.
Dr. Cohn holds several patents related to pulsewave analysis for arterial-elasticity measurement, and to the use of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate to treat heart failure. He has presented numerous honorary lectures worldwide, and has served as a visiting professor at many national and international universities.
- Director, Rasmussen Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
- President, International Society of Cardiovascular Phamacotherapy, 2008-2010
- Scientific Advisory Committee, 1996-1998
- Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, Sydney, Australia, 1997
- President, International Society of Hypertension, 1996
- Heart and Stroke Hero, American Heart Association, 2012
- Distinguished Scientist Award, American Heart Association, 2010
- Clinical Scholar Award, University of Minnesota, 2006
- Heart Failure Society of America Lifetime Achievement Award, 2006
- Distinguished Scientist Award (Clinical Domain), 2005
- International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences Life Achievement Award, 2009
- Alumni Association Award of Distinction, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, 2007
- Mastership, American College of Physicians, 2007
- Cohn JN, Sagall EL: Hemoglobinuria after massive intraperitoneal hemorrhage. JAMA 1959; 170: 1912-1915
- Rose JC, Kot PA, Cohn JN, Freis ED, Eckert GE: Comparison of effects of angiotensin and norepinephrine on pulmonary circulation, systemic arteries and veins, and systemic vascular capacity in the dog. Circulation 1962; 25: 247-252
- Cohn JN, Liptak TE, Freis ED: Comparison of colloidal chronic phosphate and BSP clearance methods for estimating hepatic blood flow. Am Heart J 1962; 64: 661-665
- Freis ED, Cohn JN, Liptak TE, Kovach A: Diastolic pressure and peripheral resistance during stellate ganglion stimulation. Am J Physiol 1963; 204: 71-72
- Cohn JN, Liptak TE, Freis ED: Hemodynamic effects of guanethidine in man. Circ Res 1963; 12: 298-307
- Koppanyi T, Cohn JN: Human Pharmacology: Part I. A catalyst to clinical research. Georgetown Med Bull 1964; 17: 146-151
- Cohn JN, Koppanyi T: Human Pharmacology: Part II. Human assay of diuretic agents. Georgetown Med Bull 1964; 17: 152-155
- Kot PA, Libertino JA, Fries ED, Cohn JN, Rose JC: Comparative effects of angiotensin and norepinephrine on arteries, veins and systemic vascular capacity in the dog. Georgetown Med Bull 1964; 17: 208-213
- Cohn JN: Hepatorenal failure following portacaval shunt: Hemodynamic considerations and the application of ascitic fluid infusion. Med Ann DC 1964; 33: 560-570
- Cohn JN, Luria MH: Studies in clinical shock and hypotension. The value of bedside hemodynamic observations. JAMA 1964; 190: 891-896
- Cohn JN: Comparative cardiovascular effects of tyramine, ephedrine and norepinephrine in man. Circ Res 1965; 16: 174-182
- Cohn JN: Venous hypotension as related to cardiac output in shock. In: Mills, ed. Shock and Hypotension, New York, Grune and Stratton, 1965, pp. 250-256
- Cohn JN, Gombos EA: Unilateral renal hemodynamics studied by an indicator-dilution technic in man. Am J Cardiol 1965; 16: 820-827
- Cohn JN, Luria MH: Studies in clinical shock and hypotension. II. Hemodynamic effects of norepinephrine and angiotensin. J Clin Invest 1965; 44: 1494-1504
- Heart failure
Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA
Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC
- University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview