In Memoriam: Gary Douglas Webb, MD, FACC

Gary Douglas Webb, MD, FACC

The ACC Adult Congenital and Pediatric Cardiology (ACPC) Section, together with colleagues worldwide, mourned the loss of Gary Douglas Webb, MD, FACC, on Oct. 19, 2021. Both visibly at the helm, and through inspiring those about him, Gary was foundational to nearly every initiative that sparked, sustained, and advanced the field of care for adults with congenital heart disease. 

A graduate of Montreal’s McGill University, Gary relocated to Toronto, where he trained at Royal Victoria Hospital, and ultimately joined the staff of Toronto General Hospital’s (TGH) Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) program, which he directed from 1986 through 2004. There, he oversaw the growth and development of what was to become one of the world’s largest and most renowned spawning grounds for master ACHD clinicians, educators and clinical investigators. He later extended influence throughout North America, directing ACHD programs at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital of the University of Cincinnati, before returning to his native Canada and TGH in 2017, the same year he was awarded by the American Heart Association through its Eugene Braunwald Award for Academic Mentorship

Beyond his hundreds of academic manuscripts, books and editorials, Dr. Webb’s greatest medical achievements perhaps lie in the impact that he had on the structure of ACHD practice, the accountability to quality in outcomes that remains central to ACHD training and care, and the core collegiality and deep friendships amongst ACHD practitioners that, in part, defines this medical subspecialty across the globe.

Gary brought the ACHD world together towards such goals through the creation of the first national society dedicated to the care of adults with ACHD – the Canadian Adult Congenital Heart network in 1991 – the formation of the International Society for Adult Congenital Heart (nee Cardiovascular) Disease in 1994, chairing the earliest ACHD consensus conferences in Canada (1996) and the U.S. (2000) as well as U.S. and Canadian ACHD clinical care guidelines committees. He also played an instrumental role in supporting both the development of the home of ACHD patient and family advocacy and ultimately care center accreditation (the Adult Congenital Heart Association, 1998), as well as U.S. ACHD care provider board certification (2012).

Never ceasing in his aspirations to disseminate knowledge and quality care, Dr. Webb established the Toronto Congenital Cardiac Centre for Adults at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre in Toronto as an early proponent of ACHD-specific training, launching dozens of ACHD specialists. He founded the web-based ACHD Learning Center, and later Heart University and the Congenital Heart International Professionals (CHIP) network, during his time at Cincinnati Children’s, extending the reach of ACHD education to trainees across the globe. Throughout his life, Dr. Webb successfully fostered personal connections and created a wonderfully collegial, global network of ACHD providers. Even with his many accomplishments, Dr. Webb may be best remembered for his international ACHD ambassadorship, a natural consequence of his deep passion, presence, self-deprecation, humor, and belly laughs. 

The influence of Dr. Webb will remain etched on our field and felt through the greatest potentials for achieving optimal health for the millions of children and adults and their families affected by congenital heart disease. His commitment to the highest standards of performance continues to inspire each of us in the field of caring for adults with ACHD to dig deeper, to perform better, to go further, to partner and collaborate … and to smile as we strive to improve outcomes.

This article was authored by the ACPC Section Leadership Council and Members.

Clinical Topics: Congenital Heart Disease and Pediatric Cardiology, Congenital Heart Disease

Keywords: Cardiovascular System, Cardiology, Heart Defects, Congenital, Leadership, Cardiovascular Diseases

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