Convocation Ceremony Recognizes Award Winners, New President and New FACCs and AACCs

After three days of the latest in cardiovascular research, interactive sessions and networking, the San Diego sun set on ACC.15 with the time-honored tradition of Convocation.

Presided over by outgoing ACC President Patrick T. O’Gara, MD, MACC, the Convocation Ceremony ushered in the newest class of ACC Fellows and Associates. In addition, recipients of the ACC’s Distinguished Awards, as well as recipients of ACC/Merck Research Fellowships, the ACC/William F. Keating, Esq. Endowment Award, the William W. Parmley Young Author Awards for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), the Young Author Achievement Awards for JACC journals, the ACC Young Investigator Awards and the inaugural Presidential Career Development Awards, were recognized.

“It’s an honor to recognize and honor all of these outstanding, individual accomplishments,” said O’Gara. “It’s part of what make Convocation so special.”

This year’s Convocation also posthumously recognized two ACC members. Mehdi Ali Qamar, MBBS, FACC, an interventional cardiologist and founding physician member of the Gordon B. Snider Cardiovascular Center at Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster, OH, will be awarded with the ACC International Service Award, ACC’s highest recognition for international health care efforts. Qamar was killed by armed gunmen while volunteering to treat cardiac patients at the Tahir Heart Institute in his homeland of Pakistan. Kanu Chatterjee, MBBS, FACC, a clinical professor in internal medicine and the first Kanu and Docey Edwards Chatterjee Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Iowa, will receive the ACC’s Presidential Honor for Excellence in Cardiology. Chatterjee, a cardiovascular leader and mentor, passed away on March 4.

In his prepared remarks, O’Gara shared several lessons learned from his year as president. The first being, that the College is blessed with a wealth of talent and experience – from its Chapters, to its Committees and Sections, to its leadership and professional staff. He also cautioned that the time allotted to effect change is very limited and should not be wasted on process for its own sake. “Sometimes the chance to make a difference is gone in what seems like the blink of an eye.” His third lesson learned was that the needs of members and patients are very different than they were a few years ago. He noted that past practices will not necessarily work to solve present-day and future issues. “Passion helps,” he said, “especially when defending a minority position that will eventually overcome majority inertia.”

O’Gara closed his remarks by saying “the time is ripe with extraordinary opportunities, filled with challenges, yet desperate for informed leadership.” He urged new Fellows and Associates to continue to “focus on their patients and the care they deserve, strive to rekindle the altruism that drew us to this extraordinary profession, and remember to lead from the heart.”

The evening also marked the official installation of new ACC leaders, including President-Elect Richard Chazal, MD, FACC, Vice President Mary Norrine Walsh, MD, FACC, and President Kim Allan Williams, Sr., MD, FACC. Williams is currently the James B. Herrick Professor and chief of the division of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. He is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases, nuclear medicine, nuclear cardiology and cardiovascular computed tomography.

Dr. Williams
ACC President Kim Allan Williams, Sr., MD, FACC

“Each president has the privilege of inheriting the foundation of past leaders,” Williams said during his Convocation remarks. “Following on Pat’s year of building new leaders and ensuring continued focus on educational funding and research, I hope to focus on increasing our ongoing effectiveness as advocates for patient access to the best cardiovascular care, regardless of race, gender, income or geography.”

Williams also urged new FACCs and AACCs to get involved with the College and take advantage of its many resources, including JACC journals, guidelines, mentoring and leadership programs, quality initiatives, NCDR registries, Chapters, sections and more. “We talk a lot about our goal of taking down heart disease from being the #1 killer, a position it has held in the U.S. since the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918,” he said. “We talk about the 75 percent decrease in heart disease deaths since 1968 in the U.S. with the advent of modern cardiology and cardiac surgical interventions. But we can no longer just look inward about this epidemic.  Cardiovascular disease is now a leading killer globally … we need to embrace the fact that in today’s world of cardiovascular disease, there is no 'us and them,' there is only 'us.'"

Williams also talked about the importance of trust. “We need to tout what it means to be FACCs and AACCs,” he said. “We are best positioned to show by our actions and our words that these four letters demonstrate a commitment to providing the best possible care to patients – and we should be trusted because of them.”  He closed his remarks with a quote from his “tennis hero” Arthur Ashe, who said: “From what you get, you can make a living, but from what you give you, can make a life.”

“Each of us is here today because we have made 'giving' our profession – our life choice,” Williams said. “We have made a commitment to give back to the communities where we live and work – and we are giving back lives. The College and its leadership are here for you each step of your journey. Use us. Take advantage of our tools and resources. Get involved in ACC committees, sections and councils, chapters and advocacy. Let’s make cardiovascular disease #2 together.”

Keywords: ACC Annual Scientific Session, Academic Medical Centers, Academies and Institutes, Fellowships and Scholarships, Mentors

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