“We have had a tremendous year at the Pauley Heart Center,” said Kenneth Ellenbogen, M.D., chair of the VCU Medical Center’s Division of Cardiology, in his opening remarks to attendees of the 2014 Heart Consortium, held on April 29 at the Jefferson Hotel.
Ellenbogen brought the audience up to date on the latest initiatives at the center, including the search for a new director, the continuing rollout of the seven new GE labs (scheduled for completion in 2015) and the newly renovated Sanger Pauley Heart Center research labs.
Of the clinical setting, “We continue to be one of the most active TAVR [transcatheter aortic valve replacement]centers in our region. This procedure has helped us to serve many patients by replacing the aortic valve in a minimally invasive manner, which is safer for a subset of our patients who may not be open-heart surgery candidates,” he said. Innovations abound in the catheterization labs, where physicians are conducting ablation procedures to control blood pressure and implanting LARIAT devices to minimize stroke risk. And of the electrophysiology division, Ellenbogen said, “We are one of only less than 10 centers in the country using advanced computerized mapping to ablate atrial fibrillation.”
Vigneshwar Kasirajan, M.D., VCU chair of Surgery and of Cardiothoracic Surgery, shared the news that, in 2013, the Pauley Heart Center completed nearly 20 heart transplants, including two heart/liver transplants and a mother and son who received heart transplants two years apart. Each were bridged to those transplants by mechanical assist devices implanted by VCU’s surgical teams. “This is unprecedented,” Kasirajan said. “Our bridge-to-heart transplantation is arguably the best on the East Coast and one of the best in the country.”
This year, instead of a single keynote speaker, three young VCU cardiologists who are also scientists presented some of their leading-edge studies: Antonio Abbate, M.D., Ph.D. (whose work is highlighted in this issue), shared his research on the role of inflammation in heart disease. Electrophysiologist and Assistant Professor Jordana Kron, M.D., spoke about her interests, including cardiac sarcoidosis, a multisystem disease that can cause heart failure or sudden death, as well as about VCU’s leadership in mentoring, supporting and encouraging women in the field of cardiology. And finally, Keyur Shah, M.D., medical director of the Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, shared some of his clinical research in advanced heart failure.
“As an academic medical center, we are able to tightly weave science and clinical care. This means that the work that cardiologists like Jordana Kron, Keyur Shah and Antonio Abbate do is aimed directly at improving patient outcomes,” said Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean, VCU School of Medicine.
Sheldon M. Retchin, M.D., M.S.P.H., senior vice president for Health Sciences, and CEO, VCU Health System, agrees. “Each year at the Pauley Heart Center Consortium event, we have an opportunity to showcase some of our faculty and their accomplishments. I am constantly inspired by the outstanding work of our physician-scientists at the Pauley Heart Center. The scope of their research is truly amazing,” he said. “All of us on the MCV Campus are truly grateful to the Pauley family and the hundreds of other donors who help to ensure the continued success of our efforts.”