History of Cardiology at Mount Sinai

From its humble origins in 1852 as the Jews Hospital in lower Manhattan, The Mount Sinai Hospital was already a leader in patient care by the time it moved to its present Upper East Side location on Fifth Avenue adjacent to Central Park in 1904. A unique paring of an old and venerable hospital with one of the nation's youngest medical schools, Icahn School of Medicine founded in 1963, The Mount Sinai Health System is today one of the largest and most famous in the world. Its cardiology program is one of the oldest and most distinguished in the country.

Beginning in 1909, under the leadership of Dr. Alfred E. Cohn and then Dr. Bernard S. Oppenheimer, the Electrocardiography Laboratory at The Mount Sinai Hospital was a pioneering group in the field of Cardiology in this country. In 1934 Dr. Arthur M. Master was named head of the Cardiac Laboratory and the cardiac clinics. Dr. Charles Friedberg succeeded Dr. Master in 1957 and authored one of the first standard textbooks of cardiology, securing its place in the curricula of medical schools around the nation. Dr. Arnold Katz assumed the mantle of leadership of the Division of Cardiology in 1968 and introduced a scientific approach to the study of hemodynamics.

In 1974, Dr. Richard Gorlin, an internationally renowned cardiologist, became Chairman of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine, and appointed Dr Michael V. Herman as Chief of Cardiology, the first to develop a full-time cardiology faculty at the institution. In 1983, Dr. Valentin Fuster was recruited from the Mayo Clinic to serve as the Chief of Cardiology and the Dr. Arthur M. and Hilda A. Master Professor of Medicine. Dr. Fuster assembled a team of investigators and created an internationally renowned research program in thrombosis. In addition to establishing the first integrated experimental laboratories for cardiovascular research at Mount Sinai, Dr. Fuster reorganized the clinical practices of the division and made the cardiology fellowship training program among the most sought-after in the nation.

In 1990, the Molecular and Cellular Cardiology Laboratories were established, dedicated to investigating cardiovascular diseases through the techniques of molecular and cellular biology. Dr. Fuster returned to Mount Sinai in 1994 as Director of the newly created Cardiovascular Institute. In 1996 the Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn Professorship was endowed and established for the Institute's Director of Clinical Cardiology Services, and Dr. Jonathan L. Halperin was installed as its first occupant. In 1997, Dr. Fuster was named the Richard Gorlin, M.D. / Heart Research Foundation Professor of Cardiology, a newly endowed chair designated for the Director of the Institute. On November 4, 1997, the Cardiovascular Institute itself was endowed by and named for Zena and Michael A. Wiener, establishing a firm base for its future development.


Selected Scientific Achievements of the Cardiovascular Institute
Year Event
1936 Around the time cardiology emerged as a medical subspecialty, Dr. Arthur Master, Mount Sinai's first Chief of Cardiology, develops the first exercise stress test, the "Master two-step test."
1941 Two leading cardiologists of the day, Drs. Ephraim Donoso and Simon Dack, help to establish the American College of Cardiology, today one of the largest and most respected professional organizations of physicians.
1949 Dr. Charles Friedberg, successor to Dr. Master, pioneers the use of direct current cardioversion for treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, and authors one of the first standard textbooks of cardiology, Diseases of the Heart.
1958 Dr. Dack becomes the first editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology and develops it over a period of twenty-five years into one of the world's most prestigious medical journals. In 1988, Dr. Dack repeats the achievement as the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
1974 Dr. Richard Gorlin, who opened the era of surgical treatment of rheumatic heart disease by developing a formula to measure how severely patients' heart valves were blocked while working in Boston, is appointed Chairman of Mount Sinai's Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine.
1976 Dr. Louis E. Teichholz, who developed the formula still used to measure the pumping function of the left ventricle noninvasively, establishes the first echocardiography laboratory at Mount Sinai.
1978 Dr. J. Anthony Gomes is the first investigator to measure the effects of digitalis on the His-Purkinje electrical conducting system of the heart.
1981 Dr. K. Peter Rentrop opens the era of interventional angiography in the United States with intracoronary thrombolysis, using a clot-dissolving drug to open the coronary arteries of patients during a heart attack.
1982 Drs. James H. Chesebro and Valentin Fuster, then at the Mayo Clinic, follow five years of experimental studies with a clinical trial proving the value of aspirin to prevent coronary bypass grafts from closing. Rapidly adopted by cardiologists and surgeons the world over, the approach greatly improves the prognosis for patients undergoing this commonly performed operation.
1983 Drs. Juan Jose Badimon and Lina Badimon, working in Dr. Fuster's laboratory, carry out a series of painstaking experiments demonstrating the relationship between blood clots in arteries and the disturbances of blood flow leading to acute coronary syndromes such as unstable angina pectoris, myocardial infarction and sudden death.
1984 Dr. Martin E. Goldman is the first to utilize intra-operative transesophageal color-flow Doppler echocardiography to guide the hand of the cardiac surgeon in the operating room, allowing moment-to-moment decisions during heart valve repair and replacement.
1985 Dr. John A. Ambrose, then Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories, discovers the relationship between complex angiographic lesion morphology and acute coronary events, dramatically altering the way patients are selected for angioplasty and bypass surgery.
1987 Dr. Gomes develops a noninvasive index of the risk of sudden death among heart attack survivors, based upon a combination of signal averaged electrocardiography, Holter monitoring and left ventricular function.
1990 Dr. Jonathan L. Halperin directs a multicenter team of cardiologists in the largest clinical trial of antithrombotic therapy for prevention of stroke in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, a common cardiac rhythm disturbance.
1991 Dr. Mark B. Taubman and colleagues identify the proteins responsible for thrombosis and inflammation in the blood vessel wall that contribute to the problem of restenosis following coronary angioplasty
1992-1995 Receiving the Andreas Gruntzig Scientific Award of the European Society of Cardiology, the Distinguished Scientist Award of the American College of Cardiology, and Lewis A. Connor Memorial Award of the American Heart Association, Dr. Fuster becomes the first individual to earn cardiology's "triple crown" from the world's three major cardiological organizations.
1993 Dr. Jonathan I. Halperin led a major study that demonstrated the safety and efficacy of a new generation of anticoagulants in preventing stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. The new treatment, ximelagatran (ExantaR), is far less toxic than the traditional treatment, warfarin (CoumadinR), involves no interactions with other substances in the body, and obviates the need for frequent blood test monitoring and dosage adjustments.
1997 Leading an international collaboration of investigators, Dr. Fuster reports the results of the largest clinical trial of heart attack survivors beyond hospital discharge, defining the best approach to preventing a second heart attack, stroke or death using clot-preventing medications.
1997 Dr. Fuster is elected the next President of the American Heart Association.
1997 Endowment and naming of the Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Institute.
2000 Drs. Zahi A. Fayad, Valentin Fuster and colleagues report the results of a pilot study for the black-blood MRI, a non-invasive imaging technique that causes blood to appear dark while vessel walls appear bright, allowing cardiologists to identify thickening of the artery wall, an indication of otherwise undetectable vulnerable plaque. While still experimental, this new tool already has been heralded as a breakthrough with the potential to pinpoint silent killers.
2002 The work of a number of Mount Sinai investigators, including Drs. Michael Poon, Juan J. Badimon and Valentin Fuster, results in the development of a Rapamycin-coated stent, a breakthrough in the prevention of restenosis following cardiac catheterization.