University of Chicago cardiologist Stephen Archer named president-elect of American Heart Association's Chicago board of directors

May 19, 2010

Stephen L. Archer, MD, the Harold Hines Jr. Professor of Medicine and chief of cardiology at the University of Chicago Medical Center, has been named president-elect of the American Heart Association's Metro Chicago board of directors. His one-year term as president will begin in the fall.

An authority on cardio-pulmonary disease, Archer is widely known for his research on pulmonary arterial hypertension. He has discovered novel therapies for this disease, a fatal illness of young adults, as well as for persistent ductus arteriosus, a common form of congenital heart disease. He also helped define the molecular basis for hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction, in which small vessels in the lung constrict when oxygen levels drop.

His clinical interests also include echocardiography, valvular heart disease, and innovative, multidisciplinary, rapid-response health care delivery programs.

"It's quite an honor to be selected by your peers for such a prestigious position, but along with this honor come significant responsibilities," said Archer. "We have made enormous progress in understanding and treating heart disease and stroke, yet they remain the number one and number three killers in the United States. Many urban settings, including Chicago, are places where we can make huge improvements by finding newer and more effective ways to bring that knowledge about prevention and treatment into the community."

Archer, 53, came to the University of Chicago in 2007 from the University of Alberta, where he founded the Vascular Biology Research Group and was the Heart and Stroke Chair for Cardiovascular Research. At Alberta, he was the principal investigator and scientific director of a $20-million initiative that built the Alberta Cardiovascular and Stroke Research Centre at the University.

A prolific researcher, Archer has published four books, 34 book chapters, and 180 peer-reviewed articles, most in prominent journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Circulation, and Circulation Research. He serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including the two leading cardiovascular research journals: Circulation and Circulation Research, and the Journal of Molecular Medicine.

He has won many awards, including the 2004 Research Achievement Award from the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, the 2003 Capital Health Researcher of the Year Award and the 2002 Paul Armstrong Research Achievement Award.

Archer previously served as Chair of the American Heart Association's national Council on Cardiopulmonary, Perioperative and Critical Care, which promotes innovative basic and clinical research and training in the investigation of cardiopulmonary disorders and diseases as well as effective emerging care procedures.

A Canadian native and a Gold Medalist at Queen's University Medical School, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, he completed his residency and fellowship in cardiology at the University of Minnesota, where he joined the faculty and rose through the ranks to become professor of medicine, before moving to Alberta.

As president of the Chicago Board of the American Heart Association Archer hopes to advance several initiatives including Mission Lifeline, an AHA project designed to save lives by closing the gaps that separate patients with severe heart attacks from timely access to appropriate treatments. Mission Lifeline involves paramedics, emergency physicians and cardiologists working with the AHA to improve the system of care for the nearly 400,000 patients nationally who suffer from the most damaging heart attacks each year. In Chicago this means getting heart attack patients to the right hospital for the right therapy as quickly as possible.

Archer is also committed to promotion of heart health awareness and heart healthy lifestyles in minority communities in African American and Hispanic Chicagoans, populations that are seen in large numbers at the University of Chicago Medical Center, and to inspiring Chicagoans to continue the tradition of philanthropy that is essential to the AHA's mission of supporting research on heart disease and stroke.

"Despite great progress," he said, "heart disease remains the leading cause of death in men and women of all ethnicities. The American Heart Association is committed to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and I am happy to have this opportunity help move that forward."

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