The International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences is delighted to recognize Dr.  James T. Willerson for his lifetime of exceptional accomplishments with the Academy’s Medal of Merit.

James T. Willerson, MD is the President of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston where he has recently been named the Alkek-Williams Distinguished Professor. In 1989, he was named the Edward Randall III Professor and Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, where an Annual Lectureship has been established in his name. He is also the Medical Director, Chief of Cardiology, Director of Cardiology Research, and Co-Director of the Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratories at the Texas Heart Institute; the Chief of Cardiology at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital; and until recently, he served as the Chief of Medical Services at Memorial Hermann Hospital (1989-2000). He is also an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and he was named the Robert J. Hall Chair of Cardiology at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital.

Dr. Willerson is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where he lettered for three years in swimming. Upon graduating as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, he completed his medical and cardiology training as an intern, resident, and research and clinical fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and as a Clinical Associate at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

He is the former Chairman of the National American Heart Association Research Committee and of the NIH Cardiovascular and Renal Study Section. He has received the Award of Merit from the American Heart Association and has served as a member of the Board of Directors and Steering Committee of the National American Heart Association. Before coming to The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Dr. Willerson was Professor of Medicine and Director of the Cardiovascular Division at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and Director and Principal Investigator of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Specialized Center of Research under a major grant from the NIH. Upon his departure, the “James T. Willerson, MD Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Diseases” was established at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.

Dr. Willerson has served as visiting professor and invited lecturer at more than 170 institutions. He has received numerous national and international awards, including the “James B. Herrick Award” from the American Heart Association in 1993, the American College of Cardiology’s Distinguished Scientist Award for 2000, and the American Heart Association’s Distinguished Scientist Award for 2003. He has been elected a Fellow in the Royal Society of Medicine of the United Kingdom and made an Honorary Member of the Society of Cardiology in Peru in 1994, in Spain in 1996, the Hellenic Society of Cardiology in Greece in 1997, and the Society of Cardiology of Venezuela in 2000. He is a member and past President of the Paul Dudley White Cardiology Society at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

He has served on the following editorial boards for professional publications: American Journal of Cardiology, American Journal of Medicine, Circulation Research, Cardiovascular Medicine, American Heart Journal, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Journal of Clinical Investigation, and The New England Journal of Medicine. Since 1993, he has been the Editor-in-Chief of Circulation, the major publication of the American Heart Association. He has edited or co- edited twenty textbooks, including the 2nd Edition of Cardiovascular Medicine which was released in July of 2000. Additionally, he has had published more than 770 scientific articles.

He has been elected to membership in numerous professional societies, including the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Association of Professors of Medicine, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and as a Fellow in the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences. He was named a “Distinguished Alumnus” by the Baylor College of Medicine in 1998 and a “Distinguished Alumnus” by The University of Texas at Austin in 1999.

His recent research work has concentrated on elucidating mechanisms responsible for the conversion from stable to unstable coronary heart disease syndromes, the prevention of unstable angina and acute myocardial infarction, and the detection and treatment of unstable atherosclerotic plaques. Very recently, he and his colleagues at the Texas Heart Institute and in Houston, Texas, and at Hospital Procardico in Rio de Janeiro have begun bone marrow derived stem cell transplantation directly into the hearts of patients with severe heart failure and have demonstrated objective and subjective evidence of clinical improvement. The work will be expanded to centers in the United States.