Letter from the Director

Dr. Greg Hundley, DirectorOver the past year, we’ve given great thought to where we are now and the challenges we will need to address in the future. Out of that process, we emerged with an updated mission for Pauley.

In this issue of The Beat, I hope you’ll enjoy reading about the new mission and some of the ways we are already carrying it out. Our cover story, for instance, focuses on the multidisciplinary teams that are helping us remain at the forefront of patient care and scientific discovery. You’ll also learn about innovative research taking place in our cardiac catheterization laboratories, now led by the outstanding clinician Dr. Zach Gertz, as well as through the work of our cardio-oncology and other teams. All these efforts are adding up: In 2018, we had a record-setting year for grants.

You’ll meet Dr. Beverly Spencer, who leads our Colonial Heights clinic. She’s one of the partners who help us better improve cardiovascular care for all by serving patients at our many locations throughout the Commonwealth.

Stories on excellence in training and education are featured throughout this issue—from the Jeopardy win by our fellows and the commitment of faculty like Dr. Antonio Abbate to the achievements of alumnus Dr. Thomas Porter. We also remember one of our great teachers, Dr. Michael Hess, who is sadly missed.

Finally, we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first angioplasty in Virginia. Performed by Dr. Michael Cowley and Dr. George Vetrovec, the procedure was new and exciting. Though great skepticism surrounded it, it turned out to be an incredible, life-saving endeavor. The same spirit of innovation sparked by leaders like Drs. Cowley and Vetrovec continues today at the Pauley Heart Center—and is growing.

At Pauley, I’ve found a facility rooted in a restless, creative spirit that is continually renewed by the support of our visionary donors and reflected in our new mission. It’s a time of enormous optimism.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Greg Hundley


Letter from the Director

Starting this month, Dr. Greg Hundley, director of VCU Health Pauley Heart Center, will be introducing each issue of The Beat. He takes over the task from Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen, who has done an outstanding job in helping us put together the issues over the years. Thank you, Dr. Ellenbogen!

Letter from the Director

It’s been nearly a year since I first moved into my office in the West Hospital—and what a whirlwind it’s been.

In October, a team led by Dr. Vigneshwar Kasirajan successfully completed our center’s 600th heart transplant. In this issue, you can read the heartwarming story about the patient, a mother of three who was turned down for a transplant four times before receiving the lifesaving surgery at VCU Medical Center.

In the new Cardiovascular Imaging Suite, Justin Canada, Ph.D., is working to determine which body compartment causes exercise intolerance in patients with heart failure—something that has never been done before—using a new technology that merges cardiopulmonary exercise testing with MRI scanning. VCU Medical Center is one of only a few sites in the world with this capability, so we’re very excited by it. Many other clinical trials are under way throughout the heart center, as you’ll see in the cover story.

We talked a lot about research at our first-ever Pauley retreat, held Sept. 8 at the Frontier Project in Scott’s Addition. About 70 health care professionals and scientists from the health system and university gathered together. We discussed several big ideas, including a joint incubator for research in cardiovascular disease.

More and more, we will be seeing collaborations between the faculties of cardiovascular medicine and biomedical engineering. We’ve recently hired two new faculty members with biomedical engineering backgrounds who will be helping us to create new technologies to better cope with heart disease.

Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed meeting so many wonderful new people—from our highly dedicated faculty and staff and our thankful patients to our incredibly supportive donors who make our work possible. I hope you’ll enjoy meeting some of these individuals in this issue.

  

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Greg Hundley


Letter from the Chairman

Friends and Supporters,

It’s an exciting time at Pauley. In this month’s issue, you will read about amazing research, new facilities, state-of-the-art technologies, grateful patients and our first-ever director, Dr. Greg Hundley.

Hundley is well-respected—not just in Virginia or the U.S., but all over the world—for his groundbreaking research in cardiac imaging. Like many of our faculty members, he is not satisfied with the status quo but is continually thinking about ways to improve patient outcomes and prevent heart disease. He’s a thoughtful, brilliant and very warm human being. We are so delighted to have him here and hope you will enjoy reading about him in the cover story.

Our new Cardiovascular Imaging Suite will support Hundley’s research, including his collaborative work with VCU Massey Cancer Center. The venture was made possible through the support of our great friends, Stan and Dorothy Pauley.

One of my favorite stories is about our bright cardiology fellows, who recently placed second in the national Fellows-in-Training Jeopardy contest at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session. I could not be more pleased. It’s a testament to the outstanding education they have received.

Finally, in this issue, you’ll also read about the plans for a new Surgical Innovation Suite, unveiled at our Consortium dinner in May. In gratitude for the care he received at VCU Health, David Cottrell, along with his wife, Christine, provided a generous lead gift for the new suite. “When I arrived, I was your patient,” he wrote in an open letter to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Today, you are my family.”

We would not be where we are today without the support of people like the Cottrells, the Pauleys and other members of our family. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Dr. Kenneth A. Ellenbogen
Chair, Division of Cardiology
Martha M. and Harold W. Kimmerling, M.D. Chair in Cardiology


Letter from the Chairman

Dr. Kenneth EllenbogenFriends and Supporters,

Welcome to the winter edition of The Beat. We recently celebrated American Heart Month, a special time when we work to raise awareness in the community on the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. In this issue, you can learn about the special events that took place during American Heart Month, and some of the research and programs we are undertaking to improve the lives of our patients.

Our cover story is especially fitting, as it provides a glimpse of our long and storied history in heart transplantation—from the days of Dr. Richard Lower to the outstanding physicians and scientists who are carrying on his pioneering legacy today. Heart transplantation is an incredible gift of life for many patients, truly one of the miracles in medicine.

One of my favorite stories is the trip to India made by Dr. Jay Koneru and nurse practitioner Cha Roberts. These two concerned providers worked long hours caring for the needs of some very ill patients with complex cardiac conditions. At the same time, they provided training to local doctors and nurses to ensure their impact would be lasting.

Sarcoidosis and amyloidosis are two rare but often life-threatening diseases that are often underreported by healthcare providers. In this issue, you’ll learn how Dr. Jordana Kron and Dr. Keyur Shah are working to help identify these patients earlier and connect them with some very impressive treatments and therapies through their comprehensive, multidisciplinary clinics.

Finally, I want to thank the incredible members of our Pauley Heart Center community. The gifts made to support innovative research through the new Pauley Heart Pilot Research Grants and the Christine B. and David E. Cottrell Surgical Innovation Laboratory are truly transformative. Thank you for allowing us to stay at the forefront in the fight against heart disease.

Sincerely,

Dr. Kenneth A. Ellenbogen
Chairman, Division of Cardiology


Letter from the Chairman

Kenneth Ellenbogen, MD

Friends and Supporters,

Welcome to the fall issue of The Beat. In this issue, you’ll visit some of our innovative programs and meet some of the talented physicians and teams who are making a difference in the lives of our patients.

Our cover story will bring you up close and personal to a truly terrifying experience: cardiac arrest. In the story, you will meet two patients who lived to tell their tales and, like so many, are grateful to Pauley’s world-class ARCTIC program, led by Dr. Mimi Peberdy and Dr. Joe Ornato.

In electrophysiology news, you can read about Dr. Jay Koneru and Dr. Gautham Kalahasty, the first physicians in central Virginia to implant the world’s tiniest, and first leadless, pacemaker. We have also completed the new EP suite, which provides an optimal setting for both exploration and patient care.

Longtime heart center innovator Dr. Michael Hess recently retired. But he leaves behind many important legacies—including his innovative work with cardiac transplant patients. I hope you will enjoy reading about his memories of working with pioneering transplant physician, Dr. Richard Lower, in the early days of the program.

One of the things that’s fantastic about this place is the people that we’re surrounded by—including the many Advanced Practice Providers—nurse practitioners and physician assistants–who are so expert in cardiology and patient care. In this issue, you can read about the many ways they are helping patients in the divisions of cardiology, cardiac surgery and vascular surgery.

There are so many phenomenal things occurring on this campus, and some of the best are the result of our doctors, researchers, nurses, and other team members working together to provide the best care possible to our patients. They, together with friends like you—who make so much of our work possible—are truly what makes this place great.

Sincerely,

Kenneth A. Ellenbogen, M.D.
Chairman, Division of Cardiology


Letter from the Chairman

Letter-EllenbogenFriends and Supporters,

As the new year begins, it’s a fitting time to reflect upon the past, even as we look forward to the future and many new exciting plans for 2017.

Our cover story profiles three VCU administrators who have been instrumental to our success. John Duval, Dr. Jerry Strauss and Dr. John Ward. These leaders are the team that helped build the Pauley Heart Center and helped us take it to the next level. We are so grateful for all they have done to develop Pauley into a world class heart center.

In this issue, you will also find a history of our programs for heart transplantation and the total artificial heart and advanced left ventricular mechanical assist devices. VCU has become a leading center for these programs in the United States and all over the world. The same is true for our ARCTIC Program, which draws patients from all over Virginia. The dedication and innovative approaches of Dr. Mimi Peberdy and her team helped attract the Weil Institute, one of the world’s top resuscitation and critical care laboratories. We anticipate the new partnership will lead to many exciting discoveries.

Our footprint continues to expand in Virginia, and we welcome the outstanding clinicians who are part of MCV Physicians at Colonial Square. Additionally, in this issue you will learn about other doctors and staff who are making a difference in the lives of our patients, including Dr. Luis Guzman and his interventional cardiology team, Dr. Jay Koneru and Dr. Richard Shepard with complex lead management, and Dr. Pat Nicolato and the ECMO team.

February is American Heart Month, and in this issue, you can learn about some of the special events taking place to bring more awareness of cardiovascular disease to the public.

Thank you for your support in making these programs possible.

Sincerely, 

Kenneth A. Ellenbogen, MD

Chairman, Division of Cardiology
 


Letter from the Chairman

Letter-EllenbogenFriends and Supporters,

Welcome to the summer issue of The Beat. In this edition, we have much to celebrate at the VCU Pauley Heart Center.       

In the realm of basic science, we congratulate Dr. Rakesh Kukreja, Dr. Anindita Das, and Dr. Fadi Salloum on their recent National Institutes of Health grants; Dr. Alex Tan, Dr. Jose Huizar, Dr. Mohammed Quader, and Salvatore Carbone on their grants received from the American Heart Association; Dr. Edward Lesnefsky on the renewal of his Veterans Administration Merit award; and Dr. Antonio Abbate and Dr. Salloum on their investigator-initiated studies supported by industry partnerships.

This year we’ve been busy with community outreach, including participating in the AHA’s Richmond Heart Walk and Bollywood Goes Red events and a forum at Lewis-Ginter Botanical Gardens. Dr. Jordana Kron and Dr. Phoebe Ashley, who share a passion for women’s health, led our first Women’s Heart Health Symposium in February. In April, we enjoyed gathering with our faculty and administration, along with some of our most ardent supporters, for the annual consortium.

Finally, I am excited to share with you a feature story on our nurses, who have received Beacon Awards and other accolades for their high levels of performance. Working with them on a daily basis, and having also had a family member recently in their care, I can’t imagine a better trained, more dedicated group.

At the Pauley Heart Center, teamwork is essential in the care of our patients. Many of them suffer complex medical conditions. Just as our researchers, physicians, and nurses are key players, so too are our donors who support our work here. Thank you for being an important part of the Pauley Heart Center team.

Sincerely, 

Kenneth A. Ellenbogen, MD

Chairman, Division of Cardiology


Letter from the Chairman

Dr_Ellenbogen
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friends and Supporters,

One of the most exciting parts about working here at VCU Health Pauley Heart Center is the opportunity to work with colleagues who are not willing to accept conventional wisdom, who continue to question and learn and who seek new solutions to challenges in cardiovascular care. Over the years, it has been a great privilege to know one of these individuals, a continual seeker of better cardiac care, Dr. George Vetrovec. 

In this issue, I hope you will enjoy reading about Dr. Vetrovec and his legacy of innovation in our cardiac catheterization lab.  As a colleague, I have found him to be a great human being who puts patients first, teaches by example and is just a consummate clinician.

Our catheterization labs are amidst a large and exciting renovation even as I write this. The new technologies will allow us to continue to develop our structural heart disease program, which is one of the most advanced in the country, and bring in new methods for opening up chronically closed arteries and treating peripheral vascular disease through the work of Dr. Luis Guzman. I am pleased to welcome
Dr. Guzman as the new director of the VCU Health Pauley Heart Center Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory.

Other stories in this issue highlight the exciting research that is taking place in our basic research laboratories and clinical trials. Cardiac surgeon Dr. Mohammed Quader, for instance, is leading groundbreaking studies on the effects of CPR on donor hearts.

We are grateful for all that you do to support our many pioneers here at VCU Health, as they seek to provide the very best in cardiovascular care.

Sincerely,

Kenneth A. Ellenbogen, M.D.

Chairman, Division of Cardiology


Letter from the Chairman

Friends and Supporters,

Saving a teenager with a rare genetic heart defect, welcoming new practitioners, celebrating 100 TAVRs, continuing leading-edge research and growing our practice have marked the prior six months. In this issue of The Beat, we share about these achievements.

You’ll read about our expansion and growth to new locations with new providers who bring extensive knowledge to our clinical and research programs. Access and outreach are core values for us, and because of that, this expansion to outlying clinics engages more people in Central Virginia and aids us in our ability to build relationships with community practitioners. These community relationships are central to our mission as an academic center.
Inside you will also read about our basic, clinical and translational 
science. Much of what we are doing is only happening in Virginia at VCU, and we are proud of that. From heart failure to valve disease, cardiac cath to electrophysiology and cardiac surgery, we are steadfast in our commitment to developing and delivering the latest science and interventions for our patients. Those of you who support us make this continued progress 
possible, and for that we are so grateful.
On behalf of Dr. Vig Kasirajan in Cardiac Surgery and our teams of cardiologists and cardiac surgeons, please enjoy this issue of The Beat, and thank you for your continued and steadfast support.

Warmest Regards,
Kenneth A. Ellenbogen, M.D.
Chairman, Division of Cardiology


Letter From the Chairman

I hope you enjoy this issue, which highlights some of the exciting research and clinical trials that are ongoing at VCU Pauley Heart Center. I am grateful to be surrounded by colleagues who believe, as esteemed physician Sir William Osler did, that medicine is always about learning new things.

One of these colleagues is cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Vigneshwar Kasirajan, who has helped to transform VCU into one of the most preeminent total artificial heart centers on the East Coast. I am pleased that he has been selected as the new chair of the Department of Surgery for VCU Medical Center, and look forward to more of his transformations in the years ahead.

In this issue, you will learn about some of our junior faculty members, who are already making their mark in the world of medicine through their research. Our cover story profiles Dr. Antonio Abbate and Dr. Fadi Salloum, two young doctors who are truly devoted to scholarship and improving the conditions of patients with cardiovascular disease.

As you’ll also read in this issue, 35 years ago this July, two very young faculty members Dr. Michael Cowley and Dr. George Vetrovec—undertook the first coronary balloon angioplasty in our area. Dr. Cowley had only been here two years; Dr. Vetrovec, just three years. But, fascinated by the procedure, they had flown to Geneva to learn how to do it from the man who was its pioneer, Dr. Andreas Gruentzig.

Encouraging seekers has long been a part of our history. In this way, we vary from some other centers, where young curiosity is often stifled and told to wait its turn. At VCU, we can’t wait to begin.
Thank you for making all of these discoveries possible.

SINCERELY,
Kenneth A. Ellenbogen, M.D.
Chairman, Division of Cardiology