Letter from the director

Dr. Greg Hundley Headshot

Dr. Greg Hundley

While we were producing this issue of The Beat, the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States and changed the way we live and work. During this difficult time, each person in our VCU Health community has played an important role in combating COVID-19. I am grateful for everyone’s efforts to fight a global risk that threatens the health of millions.

As it came to light that COVID-19 can cause or exacerbate cardiovascular conditions, our Pauley team jumped into action to disseminate expert information and explore a possible vaccine. In the pages that follow, Drs. Michael Kontos and Hem Bhardwaj address some of the most pressing questions about this novel coronavirus and its relationship to heart health. You’ll also learn about the multidisciplinary efforts behind a VCU Health clinical trial of remdesivir, a potential drug to treat COVID-19. Dr. Antonio Abbate’s knowledge of inflammation and cytokines was invaluable as this drug therapy was being tested. In the months ahead, we’ll no doubt have more stories to tell as the crisis, and our response to it, evolves. Look for that coverage in the fall.

A crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic certainly brings out the best in people, but on any given day, in any week, in any year, the work at Pauley Heart Center makes me proud.
Our cover story highlights Dr. Jose Huizar’s innovative response to a significant health problem called PVC-induced cardiomyopathy. Recognizing the importance of his work, which spans more than a decade, the National Institutes of Health is currently funding two of his studies. We describe those in detail here.

We’re also excited to spotlight the Pauley Family Foundation’s latest $5 million gift to expand imaging into the field of electrophysiology, and the inaugural Discovery Richmond series that brought together Pauley donors, researchers and clinicians to discuss and share their work. The event was a career highlight for Dr. Jordana Kron, whose nationally recognized research into sarcoidosis, a debilitating systemic condition, we feature.

Rounding out this issue are additional Pauley team member accomplishments that give us a bit of cheer during these turbulent times. Every day, they’re practicing our mission of taking each patient’s heart health personally. I hope you’ll enjoy learning about these exceptional individuals.

Sincerely yours,
Dr. Greg Hundley