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Smidt Heart Institute Selects New Director of Hypertension Research

Natalie Bello, MD, MPH, to Lead New Initiative in the Department of Cardiology, Spearheading the Study of Ways to Combat High Blood Pressure

Natalie Ann Bello, MD, MPH, an innovator and researcher in the field of cardiology with a special interest in hypertension and cardiovascular risk surrounding pregnancy, has been selected as director of Hypertension Research in the Smidt Heart Institute’s Department of Cardiology.Natalie Bello, MD, MPH

"Dr. Bello is a dedicated clinician and researcher who has focused her talent on the study of hypertensive disorders," said Christine Albert, MD, MPH, Lee and Harold Kapelovitz Distinguished Chair in Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute. "She will be at the forefront of our research efforts to both prevent and optimize treatment of hypertension, which affects more than half of U.S. adults and causes or contributes to as many as half a million deaths in the U.S. each year."

The Smidt Heart Institute has a long history as one of the nation's leading centers for the study and treatment of hypertension. Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension is the leading risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Bello comes to Cedars-Sinai from Columbia University Medical Center, where she is director of Research at the Women's Heart Center and assistant professor of Medicine. Her research focuses on understanding ties between hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and cardiovascular risk, as well as the relationship between preeclampsia and peripartum cardiomyopathy, a form of heart failure that begins between the final month of pregnancy and five months after delivery.

"This area has traditionally been understudied, but we're learning there's a very high burden of disease with lasting implications for the pregnant person and their child's health," said Bello. "By intervening, we can set these parents and children on a healthier path and save lives."

In 2018, Bello designed a smartphone app called Love My Heart to educate women about their heart disease risk factors and targeted lifestyle interventions that can help them modify that risk.

Bello has special expertise in multimodality imaging cardiology, which combines two or more types of imaging–including echocardiography, magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography imaging and nuclear imaging–to provide the best possible information about the condition of a patient's heart.

In 2018, Bello was selected by Cardiology Today as a Next Gen Innovator, an honor that recognizes early-career cardiologists as innovators in their field. The American College of Cardiology chose Bello in 2020 to participate in Clinical Trials Research: Upping Your Game, a yearlong program that trains future leaders in cardiovascular clinical trials.

Bello earned her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She completed internship, residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Columbia University, and clinical and research fellowships at Harvard Medical School. She earned her MPH in clinical effectiveness at the Harvard School of Public Health. She is board-certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, echocardiography and nuclear cardiology, and has advanced training in cardiovascular MRI.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: High Blood Pressure—What Women Need to Know