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Houston Businessman Creates Distinguished Chair at Medical School
James D. Woods, distinguished business leader, investor and philanthropist, knows a thing or two about partnerships. The longtime Houston businessman has brokered deals and orchestrated mergers of large corporations and health care entities during his career. Now, Woods has chosen to partner with The University of Texas Medical School at Houston to create the James D. Woods Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine.
"I believe in cardiovascular research and awareness programs. I think this is a great way to spend your money," said Woods. "Selecting The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Dr. Richard Smalling as the beneficiaries of my commitment was an easy decision based on their past accomplishments in cardiovascular medicine."
Woods, chairman emeritus of Baker Hughes, created the $1 million permanent endowment in honor of Richard W. Smalling, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Division of Cardiology at UT Medical School at Houston.
Smalling said that endowed funds are vital to advancing research, now more than ever.
"Research funding is difficult to come by in the current era," Smalling said. "More and more investigators are submitting NIH (National Institutes of Health) proposals for federal grants. There has been a precipitous drop in those funds recently."
Smalling noted that research support from pharmaceutical companies and associated industries is "harder to come by, also." This dearth of funding has a detrimental effect on every aspect of scientific research, but the impact is especially negative for clinical trials and the advanced physiological research that Smalling does.
One such project was a pilot trial Smalling led that analyzed treatment given in the ambulance followed by urgent coronary intervention. The findings overwhelmingly supported that a half dose of a drug cocktail of a clot buster, the blood thinner, heparin, and oral aspirin while en route to the hospital, followed by an interventional procedure in the catheterization lab was the most effective heart attack treatment. The study also demonstrated that the drug cocktail did not increase a patient's risk of bleeding.
By the time they entered the catheterization lab, 82 percent of patients who received a half-dose of the drug cocktail had an improved blood flow, compared with less than 40 percent of the patients who were treated in the catheterization lab for angioplasty, or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), to reopen blocked arteries. Almost 70 percent of patients who received the full dose and were scheduled to go to the coronary care unit for further care, required angioplasty earlier than scheduled to resolve their chest pain and stop the heart attack.
"This suggests that PCI immediately after prehospital fibrinolysis (clot busting) should be the standard of care," said Smalling, director of interventional cardiovascular medicine at Memorial Hermann - TMC.
"Taking a patient to the closest hospital and only giving them fibrinolysis doesn't get the job done. Taking a patient to a PCI center for primary PCI, without getting pre-hospital clot busting treatment, delays reopening the heart attack artery by at least an hour. What we've showed is that you really need to do both - reduced dose pre-hospital fibrinolysis and urgent PCI."
Smalling, who also holds the Jay Brent Sterling Professorship in Cardiovascular Medicine, said the pilot trial is just the beginning. He and a colleague at The University of Texas School of Public Health are applying to the National Institutes of Health for funding to establish a large, multi-center trial that would further explore pre-hospital treatment, coronary intervention and patient outcomes.
The findings of Smalling's study are detailed in his article published in the October 2007 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Smalling said the endowment established by James Woods "facilitates bringing research to fruition in the clinical area. James Woods' gift and gifts received from others can contribute to reduction in heart attack mortality in the next five to 10 years from 10 percent to 1 percent."
"It takes a village to address cardiovascular disease mortality. Many people are working on this across the U.S., including colleagues at the School of Public Health and the NIH. We sincerely appreciate grateful patients, like Mr. Woods, who have so generously supported the research," Smalling added.
By Wendy K. Mohon, Institutional Advancement
Meredith Raine contributed to this story