Embargoed until 9 a.m. CT / 10 a.m. ET Friday, November 13, 2020

DALLAS, Nov. 13, 2020 – The American Heart Association (AHA), a global force for longer, healthier lives, will award its 2020 Joseph A. Vita Award to Hooman Kamel, M.D., M.S., of Weill Cornell Medicine and Robert W. Yeh, M.D., M.Sc., M.B.A., of Harvard Medical School, at this weekend’s Scientific Sessions 2020. The meeting will be held virtually, Friday, November 13 – Tuesday, November 17, 2020, and is a premier global exchange of the latest scientific advancements, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science for health care worldwide.

The award is given annually in honor of the late cardiovascular scientist Joseph A. Vita, M.D., to recognize research that has had a major impact on the field of cardiovascular biology or cardiovascular health during the last five years. Dr. Vita was the founding editor of the American Heart Association’s Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA).

“The contributions of both Dr. Kamel and Dr. Yeh have substantially advanced our understanding of cardiovascular disease and outcomes that have important implications on patient care,” said American Heart Association President Mitchell S.V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., FAAN, FAHA. “Dr. Kamel’s research on atrial dysfunction and atrial fibrillation has shed insight into the causes of unexplained stroke, and Dr. Yeh’s work has been instrumental in influencing clinical processes, research procedure and health care policy. We applaud their efforts that have provided continued advances in cardiovascular care.”

Dr. Kamel is the vice chair for research in the department of neurology and the director of the clinical and translational neuroscience unit in the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. His research has substantially advanced understanding of novel stroke mechanisms related to cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, which have significant implications for stroke prevention.

Dr. Kamel’s research found that people with atrial dysfunction have an increased risk of stroke even in the absence of atrial fibrillation, contributing to the concept of atrial cardiopathy. He has examined the role and cost-effectiveness of monitoring for atrial fibrillation after stroke and studied anticoagulation therapies for people with atrial fibrillation. Additionally, his study of racial-ethnic differences among those with atrial cardiopathy found that although atrial fibrillation may be less common in Black people, they have greater evidence of other biomarkers for atrial cardiopathy.

“I became involved in clinical research through the influence of great mentors who made me realize clinicians can improve clinical care by helping advance science,” Dr. Kamel said. “Receiving this award will further motivate me to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives, and to live up to Dr. Vita’s standards of scientific excellence.”

After attending Harvard for undergraduate studies, Dr. Kamel earned his medical degree at Columbia University, then trained at the University of California, San Francisco as a neurology resident and neurocritical care fellow. He joined Weill Cornell Medicine in 2011.

Dr. Yeh is director of the Smith Center for Outcomes Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Katz-Silver Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston. The Vita award recognizes his work in clinical interventional cardiology, risk modeling and cardiovascular health care policy that has influenced clinical care and governmental initiatives to improve patient care.

Dr. Yeh and his team developed the DAPT Score, which clinicians have widely adopted to help determine how long to treat patients with dual antiplatelet therapy after coronary stent procedures. His work evaluating public reporting of procedural outcomes as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) has highlighted the unintended consequences of such policies, leading to reexamination of the merits of these programs. Recently, he published research validating the use of administrative claims data as a tool to support long-term follow-up in cardiovascular clinical trials as part of the NIH-funded EXTEND study.  

“In receiving this award, I’m first and foremost reminded of many people whose mentorship have helped to guide me in pursuing a career in cardiovascular outcomes research,” said Dr. Yeh. “The work of my colleagues and I at the Smith Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is driven by the desire to improve how we deliver cardiovascular care, to understand the areas where we do it well and the areas we can improve, and to help identify specific ways to do better. This honor inspires me to continue Dr. Vita’s legacy of scholarship, mentorship and professionalism in cardiovascular research.”

Dr. Yeh attended Stanford University for his undergraduate studies, and then earned his master’s in health policy from the University of London and a master’s degree in business administration from Oxford University. He completed his medical degree at Harvard Medical School. 

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