Dr. Sacks is Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health. He is also Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a senior attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he has had a specialty clinic in hyperlipidemia with the cardiovascular division. He is involved in research and public policy in nutrition, cholesterol disorders, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
His research program is a combination of laboratory research on human lipoprotein metabolism, and clinical trials in nutrition and cardiovascular disease. The laboratory research concerns the acute and long-term effects of diet on the function of lipoproteins including VLDL, LDL and HDL in humans; and biochemical epidemiology of lipoprotein particle types and CVD. His laboratory is studying HDL speciation based on content of specific proteins, and recently discovered that a type of HDL that contains apolipoprotein C-III predicted higher rates of heart disease, the opposite to the protective relation for the total HDL.Dr. Sacks was Chair of the Design Committee of the DASH study where the DASH diet was designed, and Chair of the Steering Committee for the DASH-Sodium trial. These multi-center National Heart Lung and Blood Institute trials found major beneficial additive effects of low salt and a dietary pattern rich in fruits and vegetables on blood pressure. Dr. Sacks was Co-Chair of the OmniHeart Trial, a multicenter feeding trial that found that a variation of the DASH diet that is higher in protein or unsaturated fat diets further improved blood pressure and lipid risk factors compared to the lower fat DASH-type diet. Dr. Sacks was Principal Investigator of an NIH funded trial on dietary approaches for weight loss and maintenance, the PoundsLost trial. In this trial, 4 diets varying in protein, carbohydrate and fat content were tested in 811 overweight people for 2 years. The diets had the same beneficial effects on weight loss, and all favorably affected risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Dr. Sacks is principal investigator of a new trial that is evaluating the effect of carbohydrate, type and amount, on insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk factors. Dr. Sacks published a clinical review on dietary treatment of hypertension in New England Journal of Medicine. This review emphasized that optimizing diet quality, including sodium reduction, can eliminate the age-related rise in blood pressure with age in just 4 weeks, as shown in new analyses in the DASH-Sodium trial.
Dr. Sacks is active in national and international committees and conferences in dietary and drug treatments of dyslipidemia, and nutrition and health guidelines. He was Chair of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee which advises the AHA on nutrition policy. He was a member of the Hypertriglyceridemia Guidelines Committee of the Endocrine Society. He was a member of the Lifestyle Working Group of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, which designed the American Heart Association guidelines for diet and exercise . Dr. Sacks teaches at Harvard School of Public Health as course director for nutritional biochemistry and for scientific writing. Dr. Sacks received the 2011 Research Achievement Award of the American Heart Association for lifetime research accomplishment.
Dr. Sacks has published 220 original research articles and 88 reviews, editorials, and letters.