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Duke Heart Week Ending 10-24-2021

Updates from the week:

Passing: Robert W. Anderson, MD, Professor of Surgery

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Robert W. Anderson, Professor of Surgery and former Chair of the Department of Surgery, on October 19, 2021.

Dr. Anderson served as chair of Duke Department of Surgery from 1994–2003. An accomplished cardiothoracic surgeon with additional training in business administration, Dr. Anderson successfully led a department that had been seeded as the epitome of traditional surgical education and training, research, and clinical excellence by his predecessor Dr. David C. Sabiston, Jr. Dr. Anderson’s leadership as chair solidified Duke Surgery’s stature as a world-class institution and fortified its continued dedication to a tripartite mission of clinical, educational, and investigational achievement.

Dr. Anderson’s surgical career spanned more than five decades, beginning with his surgical training at Duke University in 1967. After his residency, Dr. Anderson was appointed as Assistant Professor of Surgery at Duke. A true surgeon–scientist committed to both clinical care and investigative discovery, Dr. Anderson launched his clinical practice while also serving as Director of the CORE Cardiovascular Research Laboratory at Duke University Medical Center until 1977.

“Dr. Anderson was one of my most important mentors and a close friend,” said Peter K. Smith, MD, Mary and Deryl Hart Professor of Surgery in the division of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Duke. “I was lucky to meet him on my first day of medical school, and he was instrumental in my decision to become a thoracic surgeon. I worked in his lab during my third year of medical school, forming lasting relationships with him, his family and with his close friend and confidant Walter Wolfe. I cherish all the connections thus made with Bob at the center, and all returned full circle when he returned to become the Chairman of Surgery. To his enormous credit, he was singularly responsible for the critical transition from Dr. Sabiston’s leadership to a more modern, diverse department built to thrive in the 21st century. I do not believe that anyone else could have done a better job, and I will miss his larger than life presence every day.”

Strong leadership was the defining characteristic of Dr. Anderson’s career. He served as Chief of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at University of Minnesota Hospitals from 1979–1984, and held the same role at Evanston-Northwestern Hospital in Illinois from 1984–1986. He then served a dual-leadership role as Chair of the Department of Surgery at Evanston Hospital from 1986–1994, while concurrently serving as Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago from 1990–1994.

Prior to his surgical career, Dr. Anderson served in the military as Captain of the U.S. Army at the 3rd Surgical Hospital in Vietnam, and Director of the Trauma Research Unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He received the Army Commendation Medal and Vietnam Service Medal for his service.

Our thoughts go out to the family and many friends of Dr. Anderson. He will be remembered as a skilled clinician, an accomplished investigator, and a respected leader, mentor, and colleague.

Information about memorial services will be shared as his family makes it available.


Program Partnership between AKU and Duke Receives 1.2 Million in NIH Funding

A training program designed by researchers at Aga Khan University (AKU) in partnership with researchers at Duke University has been awarded a research training grant of $1.2 million over five years by the National Institutes of Health. The training program is designed to address a critical gap in response to a growing world-wide epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. The NIH’s Fogarty International Center will administer the grant.

Aga Khan University, located in Karachi, Pakistan, is situated in an area of the world with a pressing need to develop a cohort of trained researchers who can contribute to the understanding of NCD prevalence and risk factors as well as develop and test safe, effective, and low-cost solutions to them.

“This grant brings together research and intellectual expertise from two major institutions across the world with the shared vision of enhancing research capacity to tackle NCDs in Pakistan. This can be achieved as we keep equity and our drive for data at the core of our strategy. I look forward to working with our team at AKU and my long term colleagues at Duke to fulfill the goals of the Aga Khan University – Pakistan Initiative for NCDs program,” said Dr. Zainab Samad, Ibn-e-Sina endowed professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the AKU, project director and contact principal investigator (PI) of this project. Samad is a cardiologist and adjunct associate professor of medicine in the Duke Division of Cardiology.

The epidemic of NCDs presents an extraordinary crisis world-wide. Over three quarters of all NCD related deaths and 82 percent of premature NCD related deaths occur in low-and middle-income countries like Pakistan, where locally relevant and high-quality research data is scarce. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 50 percent of deaths in Pakistan are from NCDs, creating barriers to development goals including poverty reduction, human security, economic stability and health equity. The most prevalent NCDs are cardiovascular diseases, an area the comprehensive, integrated, multi-disciplinary research training program will focus on.

The training program leverages AKU and the AKU Institute for Global Health and Development’s extensive development network platform and infrastructure at its flagship site in Pakistan. The aim is to build sustainable research capacity, and develop a pool of Pakistani experts in cardio-cerebrovascular disease surveillance and implementation science who will provide the vision and leadership necessary to produce high-quality research of relevance to tackle NCDs in Pakistan and other low-and middle-income countries. This is in line with the Fogarty International Center’s mission of supporting and facilitating global health research conducted by U.S. and international investigators, building partnerships between health research institutions in the U.S. and abroad, and training the next generation of scientists to address global health needs.

“This award is another milestone signaling the incredibly valuable collaboration between our mutual institutions. We are excited to join this effort as meaningful collaborators, researchers, and mentors. I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead collaborators from Duke University to assist Dr. Samad and her team to deliver on this important goal, and anticipate much success that will lead to improved health and lives saved,” said Dr. Gerald S. Bloomfield, associate professor of medicine in cardiology at Duke and associate research professor of global health at the Duke Global Health Institute. Bloomfield will serve as a PI on this project.

A large part of the grant will include research training that leverages digital information technology—with an opportunity to work with AKU’s Clinical and Translational Research Incubator (CITRIC) Health Data Science Center. Additional PIs based at AKU include Drs. Aysha Almas and Ayeesha Kamal.

Congratulations to all those at Duke and AKU involved in this important work!


Shout-Out to Dixson!

We received a terrific note this week regarding Jeff Dixson, a cardiology fellow.

Dear Dr. Crowley,

I am writing to recognize Dr. Jeff Dixson, who volunteered several hours of his time yesterday to teach our first-year medical students basic cardiac ultrasound. The students clearly loved learning from Dr. Dixson, and have been raving about the experience!

Thank you for sharing your gifted educators with our medical students!


Julian Hertz, MD, MScGH
Assistant Professor of Surgery & Global Health
Course Director, Longitudinal Point-of-care Ultrasound Curriculum
Duke University School of Medicine

Well done, Jeff!!!

Respiratory Care Week 2021: Oct. 24-31

Please join us in thanking and celebrating all respiratory therapists at Duke and elsewhere! Today is the start of Respiratory Care Week 2021. To mark the occasion, the Duke Heart respiratory care team has received a special message from Duke men’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski.

October is Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month

Please join us in celebrating Medical Ultrasound Awareness Month (MUAM) throughout the month of October. MUAM is held annually to raise awareness of the role diagnostic medical sonographers play in the medical community and to educate the public about medical ultrasound and its many uses in healthcare. We want to celebrate all Medical Sonographers with a special shout-out to our Duke Heart Center vascular and cardiac sonographers. We are grateful for the positive impact our sonography team has on the care of our patients.

Cardiac and vascular sonographers are the eyes of the providers by assessing important cardiovascular findings such as ejection fraction, valvular regurgitation, valvular stenosis, flow limiting lesions, and dangerous thrombus formation. Many diagnoses would fail to be identified without the skills and expertise of cardiovascular sonographers.

The history of cardiovascular sonography runs deep at Duke Health, starting with the first phased array ultrasound development, live 3D scanning, and the most recent developments in high speed ultrasound. This is thanks to many years of collaboration between the Cardiac Diagnostic Unit and Biomedical Engineering program, pioneered by colleagues and friends Joseph Kisslo, MD and Olaf Von Ram, PhD.

A heartfelt thank you to all of the medical sonographers throughout Duke Health!


Upcoming Events & Opportunities

Cardiology Grand Rounds

October 26: Sleep Disordered Breathing and Cardiovascular Disease with Jonathan Piccini, Marat Fudim and Andrew Spector. 5 p.m. Webex.

November 2: Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction with Jessica Duran. 5 p.m. Webex.

November 9: Case Conference – Lessons Learned in Peri-Operative LVAD Care with Amanda Coniglio. 5 p.m. Webex.


Upcoming Duke Heart CME

November 5: 13th Annual NC Research Triangle Pulmonary Hypertension Symposium. Course directors are H. James Ford (UNC) and Terry Fortin. 8:30 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. Morning case-based workshops have been cancelled due to Covid. Afternoon portion will be held via Zoom. For more information and to register, please visit: https://bit.ly/3DrZwuv.


Child Educational Rights Webinar

October 27: Heart Heroes Webinar. The American Heart Association- Southeast invites parents to join a FREE webinar to learn how to be their child’s best advocate in school. This webinar will be a great opportunity for parents to learn when, why & how to get involved in creating the best school environment for their child. Special needs, education plans and meetings at the school are just a few important discoveries parents can make in shaping their child’s learning experiences. Guest speaker: Lorilynn V. Bowie, EdD, Behavior Resource Teacher. Families of children with a congenital heart defect may find the information particularly helpful. Seminar is free, but registration is required: https://bit.ly/3vE1Yug.


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. 


Duke Heart in the News:

October 15 — Jonathan Piccini


Half-Dose DOACs Cut Bleeding, Thrombus Risk Post-Watchman LAA Closure


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