Lorenzo Azzalini, M.D., Ph.D., M.Sc.
With an international background and exposure to medical training across four countries and two continents, Dr. Lorenzo Azzalini brings various and unique approaches to treatment of complex heart conditions.
“I like to think of myself as an eclectic professional who can choose from a vast array of possible options to provide each patient with a tailored solution to their heart problem,” said Azzalini, who has spent his career mastering the art and science of interventional, minimally invasive cardiology treatments.
Inside Pauley’s advanced Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, Azzalini performs interventional treatment for more advanced forms of coronary artery disease, including chronic total occlusions — complete blockages — and severely calcified coronary arteries. These are conditions that, under more conventional techniques, are rarely successful.
“My passion is to provide an interventional treatment option to patients with advanced forms of coronary disease where surgery would not be an option,” said Azzalini, associate professor of medicine at the VCU School of Medicine and Pauley’s director of complex coronary interventions.
Besides being busy in the cath lab and outpatient clinic, Azzalini is also very active in research, with over 140 peer-reviewed publications and several multicenter collaborations in the field of chronic total occlusion intervention, complex PCI, acute kidney injury and mechanical circulatory support. Moreover, Azzalini has a key role training interventional cardiology fellows in the subspecialty of complex coronary interventions.
He was brought to VCU Health with the goal of growing the health system’s Complex Coronary Interventions program, aimed at patients with chronic total occlusions, those requiring mechanical circulatory support, and individuals with advanced chronic kidney disease or severely calcified coronary arteries. Before joining VCU Health, Azzalini served as co-director of the Chronic Total Occlusion program at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy.
“I have always been amazed by the complexity of how the human body works,” he said.
Wendy Bottinor, M.D., M.S.C.I.
In the rapidly emerging field of cardio-oncology, Dr. Wendy Bottinor strives to be a leader. She makes sure a patient’s heart is healthy for cancer treatment and helps minimize cardiovascular problems both during and after cancer care. She and other cardio-oncology specialists do this, in part, by improving our understanding of the cardiovascular toxicities of novel anti-cancer agents.
During medical training, her interest in the highly specialized field was sparked when she met patients with cancer who required heart treatment. “I realized early on that there was a lot of overlap between cancer and cardiovascular disease, and it’s an area with a lot of room for discovery,” she said.
With so many unanswered questions surrounding cardio-oncology, she is helping VCU Health and the VCU School of Medicine take the lead on finding answers by building up the program at the academic medical center.
“Both our clinical and research work will ultimately give patients with cancer and survivors the best heart care possible,” said Bottinor, who has completed a formal fellowship in cardio-oncology and is an assistant professor of internal medicine and cardiology.
In 2020, Bottinor returned to the site of her medical school and residency. “The opportunity to return to Richmond and work with mentors and collaborators who helped me become the physician I am today is very exciting. I am proud of the education and training that I received at VCU and am looking forward to contributing to this great organization to develop a patient-centered, interdisciplinary program in cardio-oncology,” she said.
Frank Raucci, M.D., Ph.D.
There aren’t many doctors who do what Dr. Frank Raucci does. As a pediatric cardiologist with Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, diagnosing and treating heart conditions in kids is his specialty. Yet beyond the bedside, he spends much of his time “at the bench” in laboratories, researching ways to improve the care he and other doctors like him provide.
“Unlike our peers who treat adults, in pediatrics, we have relatively few physician-scientists who participate in research, and I’ve dedicated many years of training to fill that role,” said Raucci, who joins other physician-scientists at CHoR. “Cardiac care in children has traditionally been understudied from a scientific standpoint, so I felt like I could make an impact on patients not only through care, but by helping understand the underlying mechanisms of heart disease in children. I take the questions we get at the bedside to the research bench — and back into the hospital to improve care for kids.”
In addition to his research, Raucci provides inpatient cardiac care at CHoR. He has subspecialty training in pediatric cardiac CT, MRI and echocardiography imaging techniques for diagnosing and treating both congenital and acquired heart disease in kids.
He also works with CHoR’s neurology team. Neuromuscular cardiology is Raucci’s primary area of focus, and the specialty has a number of promising genetic therapies and treatments in development. “Over the next decade, we will have a better understanding of the genetic and molecular mechanisms of congenital and acquired heart disease in children, which should help us develop new therapies that provide improved quality of life,” he said.