Division of Cardiology
The Division of Cardiology continues to grow rapidly, adding new faculty and programs, while maintaining the commitments to outstanding patient care, education and research. Division faculty members have unique expertise in the treatment of arrhythmias, including the use of ablation, pacemakers and defibrillators. A comprehensive program for research and treatment of atrial fibrillation is being developed by Dr. J. Marcus Wharton.
Innovative therapies available in the MUSC cath lab include ASD closures, percutaneous valve repair and alcohol septal ablation for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Adrian VanBakel, MD, PhD leads a comprehensive program for Congestive Heart Failure with transplantation. The Division is active in the implantation of LVADS, led by Jennifer Peura, MD; systolic heart failure, led by Michael Craig, MD and diastolic heart failure, led by Michael Zile, MD. A unique state-wide network is in place for research and clinical management of these patients.
Despite increasing competition, referrals to MUSC have increased dramatically over the past five years. Clinical services provided include general cardiology, electrophysiology, cardiac catheterization, imaging, congestive heart failure and cardiac transplant. A Stereotaxis Laboratory in the Heart & Vascular Center allows for magnetic navigation of catheters for arrhythmia and interventional applications. MUSC was one of the first five centers in the world to use a 64-slice CT machine for cardiac imaging and remains a leader in this field.
Under the direction of Bruce W. Usher, Sr., MD, our fellowship programs continue to grow. This highly competitive program receives over 300 applications annually for the six available slots. Graduates of the three-year General Cardiology Fellowship Program have a greater than 95 percent pass rate on their Cardiology Boards. Formal subspecialty training is also available in interventional cardiology and electrophysiology.
George Cooper, IV, MD, MUSC Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Gazes Cardiac Research Institute leads a flourishing basic research program. Recently, a $5 million grant was received from the State of South Carolina to establish a Center of Economic Excellence for the early detection of congestive heart failure, with Michael R. Zile, MD as Principal Investigator. To meet requirements of the grant, an additional $5 million in matching pledges has been raised. Donald R. Menick, PhD, one of six full-time basic scientists in the Division, serves as Director of the Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pathobiology Program (MCBP), and Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Summer Research Program for Minority Medical Students.
The Division also supports a successful clinical research program with 46 on-going trials in the areas of cardiac arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, coronary intervention and cardiac transplantation. Division faculty members currently serve as national or worldwide principal investigators on six multi-center clinical trials. Total clinical grant funding exceeds $1.6 million annually.
Dr. Christopher Nielsen leads the MUSC interventional cardiac program. He has conducted a large number of clinical trials and has introduced an impressive number of new interventional techniques to MUSC. Dr. Nielsen is an active teacher with positive evaluations by both students and residents.
According to Dr. Nielsen, “After completion of my cardiology fellowship at MUSC in 1996, I decided that I wanted to “spread my wings”, so I joined a private practice. I learned alot about Cardiology and myself during this short period of time. Although it was a rewarding position, I found that it was not academic enough for my needs.
Since returning to MUSC, I have developed the curriculum for our Interventional Cardiology fellowship and obtained accreditation from the ACGME. I also received the first Michael E. Assey Award for Clinical Teaching in 2001. I am proud of my accomplishments as a teacher in cardiology.
I plan to help make MUSC one of the premier interventional cardiology programs in the country.”