American College of Cardiology (ACC) Champions Distinguished Awards Winners at ACC.23/WCC Convocation

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March 12, 2023 — As part of its ongoing news coverage of ACC23, the DAIC/ editorial team has condensed significant portions of the 72nd Convocation of the American College of Cardiology Together with the World Congress of Cardiology Scientific Sessions, ACC.23/WCC, which took place on March 6, at the close of the 3-day event held in New Orleans, La.

ACC President Fry Acknowledges Support, Recognizes Award Recipients

In his introductory comments during the convocation, ACC outgoing President Edward Fry, MD, FACC, newly-designated MACC, acknowledged and thanked the college and its leaders and member volunteers who he noted were key in advancing the mission to transform cardiovascular care for all — Board of Trustees, Board of Governors, Assembly of International Governors, Section Steering Committee, Annual Scientific Session Chair, Vice Chair and Team Lead. He recognized the valuable role of distinguished global society partners including the World Heart Federation (WHF).

Fry, an interventional and general cardiologist at Ascension Indiana St. Vincent Heart Center in Indianapolis, and chair of the Ascension National Cardiovascular Service Line, applauded the team behind the scenes at ACC, saying: “I want to acknowledge the dedicated ACC staff led by CEO Cathy Gates, who have made these last three days possible, and who continue to support our work to improve heart health around the globe.”

“One final duty as president is to thank the many of you who have encouraged, mentored and supported me along the way,” noted Fry. He added, “I wish to thank my fellow trustees, the amazing ACC staff, the counsel of past presidents, my partners and staff at St. Vincent and Ascension. I specifically want to thank my mother Dr. Shirley Fry, three sons and loving and patient wife, Kathy, as well as the ACC, for this opportunity of a lifetime.”

ACC Leadership Applauds Collaboration Among Cardiology Partners

Also presenting during the opening of the convocation was ACC Secretary and Board of Governors Chair (2022-2023) Malissa Wood, MD, FACC. Wood is Associate Chief of Cardiology for Diversity and Health Equity, Co-director of the Corrigan Women's Heart Health Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Heart Center, and an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School.

Wood acknowledged the many partnerships with whom ACC carries out its broad-based mission. An excerpt of her comments reflecting ACC priorities follow:

“We at the ACC are grateful for our continued partnership with cardiovascular societies both in the United States and globally. Our shared knowledge and teamwork are the key to achieving our vision of a world where innovation and knowledge transform cardio cardiovascular care and outcomes of part as part of this work to accelerate transformation of care around the globe. The college is working with partner societies, industry and our 42 International chapters to create localized education and practical tools that can help clinicians fight cardiovascular disease in their countries and communities, working together through initiatives that are driving real change on the ground.”

“I appreciate the African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,’” added Wood. She continued, “United we are a powerful force for positive change, and I have no doubt we will go far together. Thank you for your collaboration, commitment and leadership in taking down cardiovascular disease as the number one cause of death worldwide. We are making a difference together.”

ACC 2023 Distinguished Award Recipients

Fry returned to the podium to acknowledge the ACC 2023 Distinguished Award recipients after calling on all members of the college to continue to “Come together and affirm our commitment to transform cardiovascular care and to improve heart health for all and to do so with inclusiveness, equity, integrity and collaboration.”

In presenting the ACC Distinguished Awards, Fry said, “These individuals epitomize the College's core values of teamwork and collaboration, professionalism, excellence and equity, and a commitment to patient centered care. Special thanks to the distinguished Awards Committee Chair, Dr. Sharon Hayes for leading the selection process.”

The ACC 2023 Distinguished Awards, and significant comments offered during the presentation, are summarized here.

Presidential Citation

“Each year the ACC president is able to recognize an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of cardiology, and this year, it’s my privilege to recognize Dr. John Rumsfeld with the Presidential Citation,” announced Fry.  John S. Rumsfeld, MD, PhD, MACC is with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver (CO). Fry added, “Innovation and data driven quality improvement are at the heart of the ACC his mission and are critical to our strategic efforts to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health for all. Dr. Rumsfeld has played a visionary role in championing innovation and clinical registries to optimize cardiovascular patient care and outcomes throughout his career. The college profession and countless patients around the world are better because of his leadership, commitment and vision.

The ACC 2023 Distinguished Cardiovascular Team Member Award was presented to Dr. Eileen M. Handberg, PhD, ARNP, FACC; UF Health Shands Hospital, Gainesville, Florida, in recognition of her many contributions to advance the role of nurses and a team-based approach to cardiovascular care. Fry commented that “Dr. Hamburg was one of the first cardiovascular team members of the college, the first nurse to receive the F ACC designation and has served as chair of the cardiovascular team section. She has made an indelible impact on the college.”

An excerpt of Handberg's taped comments which were shared during the Convocation are shared here:

“Team based care is the foundation of care,” said Handberg in taped comments played during the Convocation. She continued: “You cannot provide care as a single provider. It's not humanly possible, and there is so much depth and value in every single member of the team that enriches the patient experience, and it enriches the work experience.” She added, “In the pandemic, we found out that some of the most valuable members of the healthcare team are the custodial people who were in the rooms every day…they had meaningful patient interactions and made observations about how people were doing, which just shows you it's an entire healthcare team. It's the administrators, physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners. RNs, techs, pharmacists, it's everybody. But at the end of the day, it's also the hug from a patient in a clinic who says, ‘Thank you for being there and for answering my questions,’ or, ‘I can't believe you spent this much time with me, thank you so much. It really made a difference to my understanding of my disease.’”

For this year's ACC Distinguished Teacher Award, Fry noted, “We are proud to recognize someone who is not only an undisputed world expert in valvular, heart disease and echocardiography, but also a master in the art of teaching Catherine Otto. Otto, MD, FACC is from the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle (WA). “Her innovative approach to teaching has helped many outstanding clinicians learn the building blocks of a successful cardiovascular career and develop a critical understanding of the field. Thank you, Dr. Otto,” said Fry.

The 2023 ACC Gifted Educator Award recognized Partho P. Sengupta, MD, FACC; Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Fry offered this: “Dr. Sengupta’s innovative training and fellowship programs have led many of his mentees to successful careers with 12 of them becoming young ACC Investigator Award finalists and more than 50 going on to serve as faculty members, all at leading institutions around the world,” adding, “Their success is a testimony to your vision and dynamic teaching, and we thank you.”

The ACC 2023 Distinguished Mentor Award was presented to Marcelo F. Di Carli, MD, FACC; Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston (MA). Of Di Carli, Fry said: He has served as a mentor and role model for learners at all levels and has talents for recognizing and fostering the individual strengths of those who are fortunate enough to work with him. His mentees laud him for the kindness, compassion, and consistency of his mentorship efforts. Dr. DeCarli, your extraordinary work to train the next generation of physician scientists is helping to change the field of cardiology.”

In presenting this year’s ACC Pamela S. Douglas Distinguished Award for Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion, Fry said, “Advancing health equity in cardiology is a key tenant of the ACC mission to transform cardiovascular care for all.” He added, “We are proud to recognize Paul L. Douglass, MD, MACC.” Douglass is with Wellstar Health System, Smyrna (GA).

Fry continued his tribute to the recipient with these comments:

“As you all know, Dr. Douglas has dedicated his entire career to diversity, health equity, and servant leadership. Through his work he has served as a role model for all cardiologists who provide care for underserved communities. Through his leadership, he has encouraged organizations and hospitals to view major decisions through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens, and as ACC’s Health Equity Task Force Chair is helping steer the college's path forward. Thank you, Dr. Douglass, for helping us create a stronger and more diverse and inclusive cardiology workforce.”

Mirvat A. Alasnag, MBBS, FACC; King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was recognized as the ACC 2023 International Service Awardee. Fry said, “She is a fierce advocate for international collaboration, and a leading voice for women in cardiology. She has spent her entire career bringing diverse voices together to advance cardiovascular care.” In comments from a taped video segment, Alasnag spoke to the inspirational individuals who helped her throughout her career and in the many places she has lived and practiced. “I just realized that we need to invest in friendships and colleagues as well as investing in our own education and develop career development because they sort of feed each.” She added, You can't be what you don't see.” Acknowledging other women cardiology leaders, she added, “I wanted to be able to do something like that and sort of pay it forward for the younger generations and I tried to set those kinds of platforms for them.”

The ACC 2023 Distinguished Service Award was presented to Pamela Morris, MD, FACC, is with the Medical University of South Carolina in Mount Pleasant (SC). Of her work, Fry noted, “Her extraordinary leadership and tenacity as chair of the annual scientific sessions during the challenging pivots of the COVID 19 pandemic are nothing short of remarkable. Dr. Morris has been a committed and collaborative volunteer on more than 40 ACC committees and activities at least so far. She is also a role model and mentor for many women and men who wish to become more involved with the college.”

The new ACC Valentin Fuster Award for Innovation in Science recognizes an ACC member who has served as a champion of scientific research and an innovator in the delivery of science. The award is new to ACC this year, and supported by Elsevier, a publishing partner with the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

Fry noted, “We are honored to present this award to Christine Seidman, MD. Seidman is a cardiovascular research pioneer with Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston (MA). Fry referred to Seidman as “An extraordinary physician scientist, whose work has helped to discover and pioneer the genetic basis of heart muscle disorders and help to uncover the real prospects for preventing the progression to heart failure.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

This prestigious honor was presented to Paul Wayne Armstrong, MD, FACC, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. In a taped segment, Armstrong reflected on those who have inspired him, and on the impact of his work, saying: “This profession and the work that I've had, the positions that I've had throughout the years have been fantastic opportunities to engage with young people. And as long as you're working to help those that are coming behind you to inspire them and to mentor them, and to get them to find their way and then see them succeed…the enormous gratification or the success of others has been a great satisfaction and joy for me.”

Master of ACC Designation

Each year, the Master of the American College of Cardiology designation recognizes up to four fellows who have served the college with distinction and significantly contributed to the college's mission and strategic priorities. The following four ACC members earned the distinguished achievement, Master of the ACC (MACC):

ACC President (2022-2023 Term) Edward T. A. Fry, MD, FACC, from Ascension Indiana St. Vincent Heart Center, Indianapolis (IN); C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles (CA); Paul N. Casale, MD, MPH, FACC; Weill Cornell Medicine, Lancaster, Pennsylvania (PA); and Janet S. Wright, MD, FACC, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Littleton (CO).

Distinguished Scientist Awards

Each year ACC presents three distinguished scientist awards to those making major contributions to the advancement of scientific knowledge in the field of cardiovascular disease. This year’s recipients were:

Distinguished Scientist: Basic Domain: James E. Muller, MD, FACC, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Auburndale, Massachusetts. Fry noted his groundbreaking research in the triggers of myocardial infarction and the development of the case crossover method of research that has been used in 1000s of studies worldwide.

Distinguished Scientist: Clinical Domain: Gregory Y. H. Lip, MD, FACC, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom. In presenting the award to Lip, who joined the ceremony virtually, Fry noted, “Dr. Lip is one of the foremost experts on atrial fibrillation and his efforts to define the pathophysiology risk factors, optimal treatments and quality care, quality of care have made a major impact on clinical practice.”

Distinguished Scientist: Translational Domain: Margaret M. Redfield, MD, FACC, Mayo Clinic, Rochester (MN). Redfield was recognized, said Fry, “for her groundbreaking research on the prevalence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction and its relationship to other cardiac and systemic diseases, or work has led to key advances in the management of heart failure.”

Distinguished Young Scientist

ACC annually recognizes a young physician scientist making outstanding contributions to the field. This year’s recipient of the ACC 2023 Douglas P. Zipes Distinguished Young Scientist Award was Michael Honigberg, MD, FACC; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (MA).

Bernadine Healy Leadership in Women’s CV Disease Award
Karol E. Watson, MD, FACC; UCLA Medical School, Los Angeles (CA) was the recipient of this award. Fry offered, “Dr. Watson, your work examining differences in care and outcomes for women and racial and ethnic minorities in the areas of atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease is integral to helping us create a more equitable future in cardiovascular medicine.”

Young Investigator Awards

In the category of Basic & Translational Science winner was Andrew Perry, MD; second place was awarded to Felipe Kazmirsczak, MD.

In the category of Clinical Investigation was, first place was awarded to Sadeer Al-Kindi, MD, FACC; second place went to Nitish Dhingra, BS.

In the Young Investigators category of Outcomes Research, first place went to Jonathan Cunningham, MD; second place was awarded to Andrew Oseran, MD.

Hani Najm Global Scholars and Zoghbi International Research Award

In presenting the Hani Najm Global Scholar Awards, Wood provided a brief overview of the program. Said Wood, “Inspiring and training the next generation of cardiologists is key to combating the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease worldwide. And as a key tenant of our global strategy, ACC’s Hani Najm Global Scholar Awards provide early career cardiologists residing in the Middle East and North Africa the opportunity to strengthen their clinical knowledge.

The goal of the program is to enhance their clinical knowledge and foster collaboration and the sharing of ideas between international clinicians and U.S. medical professionals. This year’s winners are:

  • Nayef Abdullah Al-Assiri ,MBBS, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Nafisa Omar Elsammani, MBBS, Khartoum, Sudan
  • Nauman Ali, MBBS, FACC, Bahawalpur, Pakistan

Notably, Hani K. Najm, MD, MSc, FACC, is a member of the board of trustees of the ACC and is the past chair of the ACC’s Assembly of International Governors. Najm is the chair of pediatric and adult congenital heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic.

Wood also added that the ACC was excited to announce the William A Zoghbi International Research Award, which will provide an annual award to support international research projects starting next year. She thanked both doctors for your leadership and generosity in support of the ACC mission. Additionally, the College welcomed the new Fellows and Associates, to whom Wood warmly welcomed them to the ACC family.

New Term, New Leadership Takes Helm

At the conclusion of the award presentations, Fry said: It's definitely been a busy year. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving as your President. It's been an honor to work with all of you as well as our partners around the world to share our commitment to transforming heart health. My last duty as president is to turn the college over to its next president Dr. Hadley Wilson.”

Fry proceeded to enthusiastically welcome the incoming President of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) for the 2023-2024 term, B. Hadley Wilson, MD. Wilson is a third-generation physician, an interventional cardiologist and executive vice chair at Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute/Atrium Health in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Clinical Professor of Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

In addition to Wilson, other new officers for 2023-24 were recognized and include: Vice President Cathleen Biga, MSN, RN, FACC; Board of Trustees Member Sandra J. Lewis, MD, FACC; Finance Committee Chair-Elect Akshay K. Khandelwal, MD, FACC; Board of Governors Chair Nicole Lohr, MD, PhD, FACC; and Board of Governors Chair-Elect Himabindu Vidula, MD, MS, FACC. 

Editor’s Note: A feature news article on new ACC President Wilson’s background and vision has been published by the DAIC/ editorial team as part of its extensive ACC23/WCC news coverage.

For more information:

Find more ACC23 coverage here

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