In Memoriam: Nathan J. Zvaifler, MD

An announcement from Wolfgang H. Dillmann, MD, Helen M. Ranney Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine

Dr. Nathan J. Zvaifler

Dr. Nathan J. Zvaifler

Emeritus professor Nathan J. Zvaifler, MD, former chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology and a founder and influential leader in the Department of Medicine, passed away on January 28 at the age of 87.

Dr. Zvaifler was internationally known for his research and academic leadership. Here at UC San Diego, he was also beloved for his generosity in teaching and mentorship. Although he retired to emeritus status officially in 2008, he remained active in his instructional activities for years later.

Dr. Zvaifler left his stamp not only on the successful growth of the academic division he led for two decades but also on the character of the Department of Medicine and the School of Medicine.

In 1970, he was recruited from Georgetown University, where he had led the Arthritis Unit since 1961, to head the rheumatology division in the new medical school at UC San Diego.

From 1972 to 1974, he served as acting chair of the Department of Medicine after founding chair Eugene Braunwald left to take a position at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital of the Harvard Medical School.

This was a period that subsequent Department of Medicine Chair Dr. Helen M. Ranney later described as “a crucial two years in the development of the new School of Medicine at UCSD.”

Dr. Zvaifler spent his entire career at UC San Diego.

A lectureship, the Rheumatology Lectureship Fund, was established in Dr. Zvaifler’s name by the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology in 2008. Its purpose is to bring internationally recognized investigators to UC San Diego for seminars and teaching activities. More detail can be found at

Contributions in Dr. Zvaifler’s memory can be made to the Rheumatology Research Foundation of the American College of Rheumatology.

The American College of Rheumatology conducted a 75th Anniversary Interview with Dr. Zvaifler in 2009.

UC San Diego Medical Center Named One of the Nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by Thomson Reuters

UC San Diego Medical Center, located in Hillcrest, has been named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals® by Thomson Reuters. Ranked among the country’s major teaching hospitals, the Medical Center was also one of twelve hospitals to receive the Everest Award. This award honors hospitals that have achieved both the highest current performance and the fastest long-term improvement over a five-year period in Reuter’s national benchmarking study…. Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

UC San Diego Medical Center hospital in Hillcrest
More about the 100 Top Hospitals® Award:

Dr. Ehtisham Mahmud Appointed Chief of Clinical Cardiovascular Medicine

Dr. Ehtisham MahmudDr. Ehtisham “Shami” Mahmud has been appointed Chief of Clinical Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Medicine and UC San Diego Health System, Interim Chair Wolfgang Dillmann, MD, has announced.

Mahmud, Professor of Clinical Medicine and a regional and national leader in cardiovascular medicine for more than a decade, is also the Co-Director of the recently-opened Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center at UC San Diego. He has been instrumental in the planning of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center, is part of its executive leadership team and is integrally involved in the progammatic development within the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center.

Mahmud’s new position in the Department of Medicine, which directly reports to the Chair of Medicine, reflects UC San Diego’s increasing focus on the development and delivery of novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

In this new position, Mahmud will be responsible for the finances, strategic plans, and faculty of the clinical enterprise in cardiovascular medicine.

“Shami has been instrumental in the growth of the cardiovascular program at UC San Diego over the past 11 years,” Dillmann said. “He will play a vital role in achieving the full potential of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center as a center of excellence in cardiovascular care.”

As a clinician-investigator, Mahmud’s work in both clinical care and research is focused on new and novel approaches to coronary and peripheral vascular interventions. He has extensive experience in complex coronary, renal, lower extremity and carotid interventions.

Under his leadership, the interventional cardiology program at UC San Diego has expanded to be among the largest academic interventional programs in the western United States. He has also helped lead the development and expansion of UC San Diego cardiovascular outreach clinics in Imperial Valley, Encinitas and central San Diego.

After completing an interventional cardiovascular fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta, Mahmud joined the Department of Medicine faculty as Director of the Coronary Care Unit in 2000. He has directed the Cardiovascular Catheterization Laboratories since 2002 and he also founded UC San Diego’s ACGME-accredited interventional cardiology fellowship training program.

For over a decade, Mahmud has directed an active interventional cardiology clinical trials center focusing on investigational antiplatelet/anticoagulant therapies and devices used in cardiovascular interventions. His research is focused on identifying clinical and biochemical factors associated with resistance to antiplatelet therapy. A second area of focus is defining optimal interventional techniques for the treatment of refractory hypertension. A number of medical students, residents and fellows have completed their research projects working in the interventional research unit under his mentorship.

He is among the top 1% of interventional cardiologists in the nation, according to the 2011 “Top Doctors” report from U.S. News & World Report and Castle-Connolly Medical Ltd. Mahmud has been honored on the “San Diego’s Top Doctors” list for the past two years, last year as a Top Doctor in both cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology. He has also been listed in America’s Top Physicians in Interventional Cardiology from the Consumers’ Research Council of America annually since 2003.

Mahmud will continue to direct the Interventional Cardiology/Cardiovascular Catheterization Laboratories and will oversee both the clinical cardiology training/fellowship programs and the clinical research programs, Dillmann said.

Mahmud is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. He serves on the Interventional Scientific Council of the American College of Cardiology and the Know What Counts Public Relations Committee of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. He is also on the editorial boards of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, JACC Interventions and Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases.

Dr. Kirk Knowlton Appointed Vice Chair for Laboratory Research

Dr. Kirk KnowltonDr. Kirk Knowlton has been appointed Vice Chair for Laboratory Research for the Department of Medicine, Interim Chair Wolfgang Dillmann, MD, has announced.

Knowlton, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Cardiology, holds the Edith and William Perlman Chair in Clinical Cardiology.

A physician-scientist, he is an esteemed academic leader, clinician, innovator, and mentor. He has been a member of the department faculty since he was a molecular cardiology research fellow at UC San Diego in 1990.

“Kirk’s experience and insight will benefit the department’s research mission greatly, particularly at this time of expansion,” said Dillmann. “With laboratory research playing so large a part in the success of the department, it is crucial to have an outstanding leader.”

Knowlton will direct research activities and space management for Medicine, the largest department in the School of Medicine. In fiscal year 2010-2011, Medicine received $113.6 million in research funding via nearly 380 individual contracts and grants.

The Department of Medicine is consistently one of the top in the nation in federal research funding per faculty member. In research funding from the National Institutes of Health in 2010, the Department ranks eighth in the nation.

The Department occupies 120,000 square feet of laboratory space and anticipates significantly more in the next several years as UC San Diego Health Sciences buildings now in the planning stages are erected.

Knowlton will spearhead the new Department of Medicine Research Council, which will synchronize research efforts within the department and the larger research community, coordinate responses to new funding opportunities, and provide mentorship for junior faculty.

Knowlton will also continue as Chief of the Division of Cardiology, Dillmann said.

Kirk U. Knowlton, MD, FACC, became Cardiology’s division chief in 2004 and assumed the Edith and William Perlman Chair in Clinical Cardiology in 2010.

A general cardiologist, Knowlton plays central clinical roles in diagnostic imaging and noninvasive cardiology and pulmonary thromboendarterectomy in the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center. In addition, he has a special clinical interest in infectious causes of heart failure such as viral myocarditis.

In his most recent research in molecular cardiology, he is studying mechanisms involved in the formation of intercalated discs to understand the means by which virus infection of the cardiac myocyte can cause dilated cardiomyopathy.

Knowlton is principal investigator of a program project, “Molecular Pathways for Hypertrophy and Cardiomyopathy, and a training grant, “Training in Cardiovascular Physiology and Pharmacology,” both funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Knowlton co-directs the Cardiac Biomedical Science and Engineering Center of the UC San Diego Institute for Engineering in Medicine, a collaborative effort centered on developing new means of understanding, detecting and countering cardiac diseases.

At UC San Diego, in the surrounding community, and at the national level, Knowlton is involved in numerous positions of leadership and service. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, an elected senior member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and Associate Editor of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

He has been recognized as one of the Best Doctors in America each year since 2003.

Active in the American Heart Association, he was recognized as 2010-2011 Western States Affiliate Physician Volunteer of the Year. He was nominated for the UCSD School of Medicine Kaiser Permanente Excellence in Teaching Award for the past two years.

UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Celebrates 5th Anniversary with Open House

For more than three decades, researchers and clinicians at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have led the way in cutting-edge cancer research and patient care. On Saturday, January 22, 2011, they will celebrate five years of delivering comprehensive outpatient cancer care and dedicated research in a single location as the Moores Cancer Center hosts an open house… Read the full story from the UCSD Newsroom

Dr. Patricia Finn Receives Elizabeth A. Rich Award

The American Thoracic Society has named Dr. Patricia W. Finn the 2009 recipient of the Elizabeth A. Rich, M.D., Award.

Each year, the award is given to a woman who is a demonstrated leader, mentor, and role model in the field of respiratory and critical care and sleep medicine.

Dr. Finn will be honored in a ceremony at the American Thoracic Society’s ATS 2009 meeting in San Diego in May.

Patricia W. Finn, M.D., is Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

The division’s clinical program in pulmonary and critical care medicine is ranked eighth in the nation on the 2008 “America’s Best Hospitals” list from U.S. News and World Report.