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10.21.2014

Elaine and Sydney Sussman Endowed Chair in Interventional Cardiology Presented to Alan W. Heldman

Before a packed auditorium full of family, friends, and University and Miller School of Medicine leadership, longtime philanthropists Sydney and Elaine Sussman made their latest gift in the hopes of improving care for cardiovascular patients for generations to come.

The Sussmans presented the Elaine and Sydney Sussman Endowed Chair in Interventional Cardiology to Alan W. Heldman, M.D., during a dedication ceremony October 7 on the medical school campus. As wife Elaine, daughter Andrea and her partner Bill Harris looked on, Sydney Sussman spoke of the teamwork needed to transform lives through gifts like an endowed chair.

“It is such a pleasure to be here with the individuals in this room: the doctors, our friends, future friends, and those that make great things in the world happen,” said Sussman. “Their intellect, their dedication, their whole lives are devoted to helping others.”

The Sussmans have made an enduring impact on the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. They became ardent supporters of University of Miami Hospital (UMH) heart services, making a significant gift for equipment and space renovations, ultimately becoming principal donors and naming the Elaine and Sydney Sussman Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories in 2011.

Thanks to their generosity, UMH has a state-of-the-art facility where interventional cardiologists, heart surgeons, and nurses work as a tight-knit team to diagnose problems and perform lifesaving procedures ranging from angioplasty to aortic valve replacement. The lab contains advanced imaging equipment and robotic technology for superb accuracy.

In 2013, the Sussmans donated additional catheterization laboratory equipment, and pledged support to help build the University of Miami’s Crohn’s and Colitis Center, which now provides world-class care for those living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Through interdisciplinary clinical care and laboratory research into Crohn’s disease and colitis, the Elaine and Sydney Sussman Family Crohn’s and Colitis Clinic at the University of Miami Hospital and Clinics provides a medical home for patients with chronic digestive disorders.

“It is the Sussmans’ commitment, not only to philanthropy for the University of Miami, but their citizenship of this country and setting a standard for people who have done very well in their lives and are prepared to give back, which gives a centerpiece to defining what it means to be an American,” said University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala.

The Sussmans presented the chair to its first recipient, Alan W. Heldman, M.D., the Director of Interventional Cardiology. Heldman said the Sussmans’ transformative gifts help him and his staff deliver exceptional care to patients, and save lives every day. He added that he was humbled by their generosity, and looked forward to bringing new and innovative cardiovascular concepts to fruition.

“This gift will allow me to focus even more on new ways of seeing the heart, seeing inside the heart, and being able to fix it,” said Heldman, who is also professor of medicine and Director of UM’s Comprehensive Program in Regenerative Medicine at the Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute. “Their gift is a lasting legacy and it is a great honor to be the first recipient.”

Heldman spent 12 years on the cardiology faculty at The Johns Hopkins University, where he was Director of Interventional Cardiology Innovation & Research, as well as a high-volume interventional operator.

He was a member of the first team to produce and test an effective drug-eluting stent, and he is an expert in the treatment and prevention of coronary restenosis. At UM, his clinical practice focuses on techniques for a number of interventional problem areas, including procedures in the elderly, in vein graft disease, in acute myocardial infarction, and in patients with vascular disease.

He also coordinates the multidisciplinary clinical effort for the evaluation and care of patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and is involved with new techniques developed to treat myocardial infarction and heart failure using catheter delivery of stem cells to the heart.

Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School, and CEO of the University of Miami Health System, told guests the endowed chair will allow Heldman the flexibility and resources to continue to promote a world-class cardiology division.

“An endowed chair is one of the most important gifts in higher education,” Goldschmidt said. “It is the highest academic honor and is provided to world-class scholars to support their research and education programs in perpetuity.”

“The foresight of donations in chairs, such as this one, ensures the future of the University to be a major research institution in the world today,” added Roy Weiss, M.D., Chair of the Department of Medicine. “It is this perpetual type of gift that allows the best clinicians and the best scientists to develop new cures, and new treatments for diseases that affect society today.”

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