From the Interim Director


As you receive this newsletter with a focus on heart failure and the numerous ways University of Arizona Sarver Heart members are working to improve patient care through research and education, it is an honor to let you know that the UA College of Medicine selected a new Sarver Heart Center director with expertise in heart failure.

This coming March we will welcome Nancy Sweitzer, MD, PhD, a board-certified advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist and physiologist, as director of the UA Sarver Heart Center and chief of the Division of Cardiology in the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, Department of Medicine. Nationally recognized for her strong leadership and experience in clinical research, Dr. Sweitzer has a clinical research program focused on the interaction of the dysfunctional heart muscle in heart failure with the vasculature and kidneys to better understand how to improve symptoms and organ function in heart failure patients. She has done extensive work on the physiology of heart failure with preserved systolic function, a disease that disproportionately affects elderly women. She has led and collaborated on numerous studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health as well as studies supported by industry and academic sponsors. She also has served on numerous NIH committees and currently serves as a member of its Clinical and Integrative Cardiovascular Science Study Section and the American Heart Association’s Cardiac Biology and Regulation Committee.

In the meantime, she will wrap up her work at the University of Wisconsin Cardiovascular Medicine Division in Madison, where she is an associate professor of medicine and director of numerous programs, including clinical research, quality, heart failure and cardiac transplant programs. She also directs the Cardiovascular Medicine and Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplant Fellowship programs.

As chair of the search committee, I can say that we were thrilled with the quality of applicants and believe that Dr. Sweitzer’s expertise will have a huge impact on the future advances that come from the Sarver Heart Center and immediately enhance the entire cardiology clinical practice. She also brings strong experience as a translational researcher and will be a valuable bridge between Sarver Heart Center members who have a strong basic science focus on cardiovascular diseases and those who understand the clinical advances that are within our grasp. We are grateful for the support we received from both the UA College of Medicine and The University of Arizona Health Network for making this recruitment possible. Additional information on Dr. Sweitzer will be provided in the next newsletter issue.

In this newsletter, you have the opportunity to read about the translational research of Zain Khalpey, MD, PhD, a cardiothoracic surgeon who recently was appointed to the UA Sarver Heart Center’s Tony A. Marnell, Sr. Endowed Chair for Research in Cardiothoracic Surgery. One of the last resorts for heart failure patients is transplantation, yet the shortage of organs means few people can turn to this option. Dr. Khalpey’s research is focused on expanding the options available to patients awaiting organ transplants.

We also cover some of the new minimally invasive procedures done in the catheterization lab and advances in imaging from the cardiology division that are giving patients new options for early detection and treatment of structural problems to prevent heart failure.

Much has been happening at the UA Sarver Heart Center and we are looking forward as we continue to make advances toward our vision of a future free of heart disease and stroke.

Nancy Sweitzer, MD, PhD
Carol C. Gregorio, PhD