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Duke Heart Week Ending November 8th 2020

Chief’s message:

Duke Heart Center is pleased to announce the Hearts of Athletes Program with philanthropic support from the Joel Cornette Foundation. 

During development the cardiovascular system forms in a uniform way.  A young person’s environment, exposure to sports, nutrition, other elements then affect the development of the heart and the cardiovascular system.  Along this spectrum some individuals become world-class athletes.  As they do so, the ability to determine variation on normal compared to disease anatomy, function can be difficult.  To date the scientific community has lacked a large “library” with information/data on the spectrum on hearts of people who have performed at the highest levels of athletic competition.  Additionally, once done competing in high level sports there is little guidance on the management and medical care of the cardiovascular system.  This problem has only been exacerbated with COVID-19, an infectious disease that has posed an unprecedented public health challenge and has been reported to involve the heart.  Recent reports have identified inflammation of the heart – termed myocarditis.

For young adults, student athletes, and others without known cardiovascular disease, the true incidence of myocardial involvement after COVID-19 infection and the rate of detection via different testing modalities is not known.  This has led to differential testing programs and return to athletics around the United States.

It is with this background and the generous support from the Joel Cornette Foundation, that the Duke Heart Center lead by Dr. Manesh Patel will be launching the Hearts of Athletes Program, aimed at recruiting college athletes both with and without COVID-19 to help identifying the rate of myocardial involvement and effects on their ability to return to athletic activity.  The study will capture cardiovascular imaging including cardiac MRI studies on these athletes.

Dr. Patel noted, “We will leverage our expertise in Sports Cardiology with Bill Kraus, electrophysiology expertise with Jim Daubert, and Cardiac MRI imaging from our group including Han Kim and Igor Klem. This study will provide critical information linking symptoms, physical activity, and cardiac imaging in athletes with and without COVID-19 – allowing us to start to understand both the disease and the athletic heart.  We are honored to gain the support of the Christi Cornette and the Joel Cornette Foundation, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to quickly start this study.  Having met Christi Cornette and understanding her vision to improve the lives of athletes in honor of Joel, we are humbled to partner with the foundation.”  The study will shortly be recruiting via a novel Hearts of Athlete’s Study APP that will allow athletes to capture their symptoms and cardiovascular images.

Christi Cornette stated “We are excited to work with the Cardiology group at Duke and Dr. Patel to identify ways to help better understand COVID-19 and support athletes during this time.  We are confident that research like this will improve our understanding of athlete’s heart so that we may prevent and improve their lives.

Dr. Patel noted that the Duke group is also working with several sports medicine colleagues to coordinate the efforts of the Hearts of Athlete’s study with ongoing registry work around COVID-19 involvement in NCAA athletes.  The group envisions that this program will provide more in depth information needed for both athletes and non-athletes recovering from COVID-19.

Updates from the week: 

Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH gives Eugene Stead Medical Grand Rounds on “PCORI 2.0”

Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH, is Executive Director at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). She is a cardiologist and health services researcher with a distinguished career leading key scientific initiatives engaging patients, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders at one of the nation’s largest public health research funders.

She provided a fantastic wide ranging talk aimed at providing the vision for PCORI over the next 10 years which included ensuring working to generate patient centered research that improves the outcomes of our communities.  She discussed patient engagement, big data, the role of funding and open science and her own journey to PCORI Leadership.  Like Dr. Stead, she described the importance of understanding the whole person, removing disparities and inequities in health, and how we will be working in research and care delivery to do that.

EP Updates:

Kevin Jackson Named Director of Duke Center for Atrial Fibrillation

We are very pleased to announce that Kevin Jackson, MD will be assuming the role of Director of the Duke Center for Atrial Fibrillation at Duke University. Dr. Jackson completed his residency training at UCSF and his cardiology and electrophysiology fellowships at Duke before joining the faculty in 2007.  Dr. Jackson is a key leader and recognized expert in the treatment of atrial fibrillation locally and across the country. He provides care for AF throughout our health system, including at Duke University Hospital, Duke Raleigh Hospital, and through HeartCare Plus at Wake Med in Wake County. He is uniquely poised to help lead our care efforts in this arena. Dr. Jackson will be working with Janice Febre, RN (DCAF Nurse Coordinator) to improve the consistency and data-driven approach within our hospitals and clinics. I am very pleased to see Dr. Jackson take on this new role. He has a strong reputation as a top notch clinician in our community and excels at efficient and high-quality care delivery. Please congratulate KJ when you see him.

Rebeccal Yapejiaan elected Associate of the ACC

Sana Al Khatib shared great news this week.  “I am writing to share with you the great news that Rebecca Yapejiaan – one of our EP NPs, was just elected as an Associate of the ACC. The approval happened in record time (24 hours)”.   Congrats Rebecca – well deserved

American Heart Associate Scientific Sessions to Start this week.

Many of our Faculty and Fellows will be presenting at the upcoming Virtual AHA sessions.  The sessions will have an all star cast of Keynote Speakers including Dr. Toni Fauci on the Cardiovascular Effects of COVID-19.  We will also have many of our Faculty and fellows presenting, with many faculty moderating and involved with Late Breaking Science.

Registration Links can be found here: the website

Image of the Week:

After a contentious political season – Joe Biden was declared President-Elect with Kamala Harris as Vice-President Elect. Hopefully our country that has been deeply divided will find a way towards common ground and a way forward for some of the most pressing issues in our country right now – many of which touch our lives in health care.  No matter what your political beliefs, the election of the first woman, a women of color as Vice-President elect is historic, hopeful and inspiring to generations.

COVID-19 Updates:

All the latest official DUHS information regarding coronavirus/COVID-19 response at the following locations:

Upcoming Opportunities/Save the Date:

Cardiology Grand Rounds

Nov. 10: Michelle Kelsey – Presenting Morbidity and Mortality Case to the Faculty and Fellows

Nov. 17: Special Grand Rounds – Celebrating Brett Atwater’s Contributions to EP

Conferences, Symposia & Webinars

Nov. 13: 12th Annual NC Research Triangle Pulmonary Hypertension Symposium. Noon – 4:30 p.m. For more information, please visit this page. This event will be held virtually and is co-sponsored by Duke and the University of North Carolina in partnership with the Pulmonary Hypertension Association through the Building Medical Education in PH program. Please join us!

Nov. 13–17: AHA Scientific Sessions 2020, a virtual experience. Registration is now open. See the website for details.

Conversations with Colleagues: A Deeper Dive on Racial Justice

During the initial Conversations with Colleagues (CwC): Racial Justice sessions attendees shared that they wanted a deeper dive and more action steps related to racial justice. During this next edition of CwC attendees will sign up for 6 weeks of conversations. Participants will be placed into small cohorts and will walk with this same group of colleagues throughout the entire 6 weeks. These cohorts will allow staff to build relationships, have colleagues to bounce ideas off of and have accountability partners to help them stay true to the mission of the deeper dive. You will read articles, watch videos and engage in other activities that will deepen your knowledge about racial justice.   Attendees will also learn action steps that they can take to make a difference.


Dates/Links for CwC

The conversations will take place weekly, starting this week and running through 12/7 (with a break Thanksgiving Week).  Conversations will be 1 hour long.

Mondays 2-3pm (10/16 – 12/7)


Tuesdays 8-9am (10/27 – 12/8)


Wednesdays 12noon-1pm (10/28 – 12/9)


Thursdays 5-6pm (10/29 – 12/10)


Fridays 12 noon-1pm (10/30 – 12/11)


Sundays 4-5pm (11/1 – 12/13)



Matters of Grief: The Duke Response

On Thursday, November 19th, join us for a free half-day symposium where we will learn about ways that we can support each other through both personal and professional grief, share stories of support, and identify resources available at Duke.


Matters of Grief: The Duke Response will feature diverse and multidisciplinary panels, engaging didactic sessions, and surprise guests from across the university. Just some of the highlights include:

  • Coach K delivers a special message
  • Duke medical students will discuss the research behind grief and finding support through peers
  • Well-Being experts and Duke Health leadership discuss normalizing discussions about grief


The virtual event runs from 1-5PM on November 19th, 2020. Sessions will be recorded for those who cannot attend the live event. Reserve your space today at bit.ly/mattersofgrief


Have news to share?

If you have news to share with the Pulse readership, please contact Tracey Koepke, director of communications for Duke Heart at tracey.koepke@duke.edu. We would love to hear about your latest accomplishments, professional news, cool happenings, and any events or opportunities that may be of interest to our Duke Heart family. Please call with any questions: 919-681-2868. Feedback on Pulse is welcome and encouraged.

Have a good week, everyone!

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