For this issue, Dr. Bhatt talks with Cardiology Today’s Intervention Editorial Board Member Alexandre Abizaid, MD, PhD, director of invasive cardiology at Institute Dante Pazzanese de Cardiologia, interventional cardiologist at Hospital do Coração and Syrian-Lebanese Hospital, all in São Paulo, and a visiting professor of medicine at Columbia University.
Abizaid completed his medical degree at Federal University of Juiz de Fora in Brazil. Following that, he completed several residencies. He also completed his master’s degree in cardiology at Federal University of São Paulo during that time. Abizaid was a research fellow in interventional cardiology at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., then obtained a PhD in medicine at Federal University of São Paulo.
He has served as a trustee of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Abizaid has written numerous research articles and papers, in addition to winning various honors and awards throughout his career.
What has been the greatest challenge of your professional career thus far?
Dr. Abizaid: The greatest challenge is to balance and to combine the three major pillars in my work, which is research, teaching and clinical assistance. There’s always a little trend to favor one vs. the other, but to keep those three pillars in a very balanced way is always a challenge. Sometimes you have to make choices, but to be 100% complete in what I do, I have to balance between those three missions.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career?
Dr. Abizaid: At an early age, it was my father, who was a well known cardiologist in Brazil. He inspired me to be a doctor and to be a cardiologist. He was a great mentor during medical school and was always a perfect example of work ethic and dedication to his patients.
Then I came to São Paulo to do my residency in cardiology, where I met J. Eduardo Sousa, MD, PhD. Prof. Sousa was the physician who implanted the very first Palmaz-Schatz stent in a human being. During my residency in São Paulo, he mentored and inspired me to be trained in interventional cardiology.
When I finished my residency, I went to Washington, D.C. (Washington Hospital Center). My mentor there was Martin B. Leon, MD. Dr. Leon was the person who helped my career in terms of research and to embrace innovations. I still work with him today helping to organize the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics course (TCT) and to develop new projects between my hospital and Columbia University.
Have you ever been fortunate enough to witness or to have been part of medical history in the making?
Dr. Abizaid: The first revolution in interventional cardiology was balloon PCI with Andreas Grüntzig, MD, from Switzerland. Then the second revolution was coronary stents that was born in Brazil with Prof. Sousa in my early professional days. Most importantly, I participated very actively in the third revolution in interventional cardiology, which was drug-eluting stents. We treated the very first patients with Cypher stent (Johnson & Johnson) 18 years ago. This is always very vivid in my mind. We moved the field forward with the introduction of this revolutionary device and we were able to help so many patients. To be able to treat those patients in this very early stage, to publish the results before anybody else and to travel all over the world to show these results was very rewarding and important in my career.
What area of research in intervention most interests you right now and why?
Dr. Abizaid: Most recently, it is the introduction of structural heart interventions. We conquered the field of aortic stenosis. The next frontier will certainly be mitral and tricuspid interventional procedures. I’m very interested in building a whole system in my hospital with a heart team and the most advanced technology to be able to do high-level research and to find out what is going to be the best approach for our patients to avoid open-heart surgery.
What do you enjoy doing to relax?
Dr. Abizaid: I love watching movies and TV series. Having dinner with my family followed by some TV time is very relaxing to me. Over the weekends, I try to exercise and expend some energy with biking and jogging. – by Darlene Dobkowski