FIT March Spotlight: Salim S. Hayek, MD

March 15, 2017 | Salim S. Hayek, MD
Career Development

Each month, the Fellows in Training (FIT) Section newsletter, ACC On-Call, will highlight the achievements of one cardiology FIT. The Section would like to recognize Salim S. Hayek, MD, an FIT at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, as the 'star FIT' for the month of March. He describes his research interests, hobbies, career goals and involvement with the ACC in a short interview below.

What are your plans after cardiology fellowship?
I'm looking forward to joining an academic institution as a physician-scientist, and pursuing my research and clinical focus in non-invasive cardiology with advanced imaging and cardio-oncology.

What are your research interests?
Overall, my research interests lie in the integration of novel high-throughput technologies, such as proteomics, metabolomics and genomics to improve and implement risk prediction algorithms in clinical practice, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes by personalizing patient care and optimizing resource allocation. Currently, my focus is on deciphering the role of suPAR – a novel biomarker and pathogenic factor – in kidney and cardiovascular diseases.

What are your hobbies outside of cardiology?
Foodie, movie-goer, techie and video gamer ... when time permits!

How do you approach work-life balance?
As an FIT balancing clinical education, research productivity and family time is a continuous challenge. Depending on one's goals, certain sacrifices are inevitable. As a physician, patient care has and will always remain my top priority. My evenings and weekends are for my family. I dedicate late nights and lulls to my various research projects, leaving little time for personal hobbies at this stage of my career. Fortunately, I have an infinitely patient wife and wonderful children, who are my pillars of support and the real secret to my perseverance.

Do you have any mentors that you would like to recognize?
I am thankful for a number of influential mentors that have each played an important role in my career development: Mona Nemer, MD, vice president of research at the University of Ottawa, Canada, who fostered my passion for research; Arshed Quyyumi, MD, FACC, director of the Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute in Atlanta, whose mentorship provided me with the platform and opportunities to thrive as a clinical investigator; Jochen Reiser, MD, chair of medicine at Rush University, for his unwavering support and trust; and last but not least John Rumsfeld, MD, PhD, FACC, chief innovation officer for the ACC, whose vision of health care and research I share and for his belief in FITs as the drivers of progress in cardiology.

How did you first become involved with the ACC?
I've been privileged to be the FIT member of ACC's Innovation Advisory Group and its working group, and have more recently joined ACCs' Cardio-Oncology Section Leadership Council.

I have much to thank the ACC for the early successes in my career. As a resident in internal medicine and a cardiology fellow, I have attended ACC's Annual Scientific Session yearly for the past seven years, where I presented my research and had ample opportunities to network with peers and mentors, form many new collaborations, and receive career guidance. One defining encounter was exchanging thoughts and ideas with Dr. Rumsfeld during the FIT round table sessions, which eventually led to my joining ACC's Innovation Advisory Group.

What other ACC activities are you involved in?
ACC's Annual Scientific Session has been the main venue, where I have presented my research numerous times over the past few years. I was honored to have been invited as Faculty to ACC.16 where I reported exciting findings recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine on the novel biomarker suPAR and its association with kidney disease. More recently, as the FIT member of ACC's Innovation Advisory Group I participated in the inaugural Innovations Summit, the purpose of which was to seek input from various groups including clinicians, researchers, industry, patient advocacy groups and government on providing the optimal framework for the cost-effective and evidence-based implementation of innovations in consumer technology, digital health, big-data and precision medicine, for health care delivery.

Cardio-Oncology is in sore need of evidence-based strategies on how to risk-stratify and optimize the cardiovascular health of a rapidly growing population of patients either undergoing therapy for or who have survived cancer and are at high risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. As a member of the Cardio-Oncology Leadership Council I plan on participating in defining both the clinical and research scope of the nascent field.

What advice do you have for other FIT members?
Get involved early. The ACC is the ideal platform for FITs looking for opportunities, whether interests lie in clinical education, research or quality improvement. Attending ACC's Scientific Session is particularly valuable for incoming FITs who may not have a specific research or clinical focus. Being present and interacting with your colleagues and leaders in cardiology will widen your horizons and rapidly pay dividends; whether it's in potential job opportunities, subspecialty fellowships or involvement in research projects.