Note From the Director

12/08/14

NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR

During my first half year as director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center, it has been very rewarding to get to know this Center’s outstanding faculty and staff. Efforts on unifying our team in the pursuit of high-quality science, clinical care, and community education, with an emphasis on increasing the impact and visibility of the Sarver Heart Center are underway.
 
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Unifying our scientists, clinicians and students in collaborative pursuits will push us to the forefront of cardiovascular medicine, scientific discovery and education of the next generation of academic leaders. The Sarver Heart Center is truly unique, providing high-quality cardiovascular care and pursuing cutting-edge research in both the basic and clinical sciences. The invaluable support provided by our donors helps our investigators pursue innovative and potentially game-changing ideas in the science of cardiovascular medicine.
 
All of this is possible because of the tremendous and ongoing tradition of research support from private donors in the form of multiple endowments, shared-equipment gifts, and the Sarver Heart Center Investigator Awards. The return on investment resulting from past support has been tremendous, with the scientists supported by these donations having subsequent remarkable success in obtaining extramural funding in the forms of grants and awards.
 
Some recent examples include: Henk Granzier, PhD, whose research focused on prevention of heart muscle dysfunction is supported by an endowment made possible by Allan and Alfie Norville, and Jil C. Tardiff, MD, PhD, whose research on hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is supported by an endowment established by the Steven M. Gootter Foundation. Alexander Simon, PhD, Taben Hale, PhD, and Dennis Pollow, MS, RD, all have been able to obtain national funding recently for their continued basic-science research because private supporters, just like you, decided to fund research grants that gave these scientists the opportunity to obtain critical preliminary data making their grant applications nationally competitive. These scientists are adding to our knowledge of cardiovascular disease, including chronic diseases of veins and how gender differences affect vascular remodeling and high blood pressure.
 
In addition, our advisory board members, women’s and minority outreach committees, and development team work together to educate communities throughout Arizona about their cardiovascular risk. These groups have reached thousands through CPR and AED campaigns, lecture series, and heart health awareness events. The Minority Outreach Committee works tirelessly, with dozens of events each year, to reach underrepresented minorities and educate them about cardiovascular disease risk and how to save lives in their particularly high-risk communities using chest compression-only CPR.
 
All of this is made possible because of our dedicated core administrative staff. I’m pleased to announce that Thom Melendez, M.Ed., recently joined our staff as director of development to round out our team. Thom, who has been with the UA since 2007, brings extensive knowledge of the Arizona Health Sciences Center, having worked in development for the UA Arthritis Center and the Department of Family and Community Medicine. (Read more about Thom on page 13.) I encourage anyone interested in learning more about increasing your involvement with Sarver Heart Center to contact Thom at 520-626-4146 or heart@u.arizona.edu.
 
As we wrap up this year of huge transitions, I thank you for your continued support of the Sarver Heart Center as we move forward toward a future free of heart disease and stroke.
 
Nancy K. Sweitzer, MD, PhD
Director, UA Sarver Heart Center