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History of Cardiovascular Medicine

Yale Cardiovascular Medicine has a long history of clinical and academic excellence. The full time Section was formed in the mid-1950’s under the leadership of Dr. Allan V.N. Goodyer, the first full time faculty member to serve as chief of cardiology. He joined the department of Internal Medicine at Yale as an instructor in 1948 and was promoted to professor in 1966. His early research was in the field of fetal electrocardiography, which provided the background for this technique in modern obstetrics. His subsequent research was in the elucidation of the mechanisms related electrolyte and water disturbances to cardiac failure in animals and in man. He then became involved with the evaluation of left ventricular function by computer analysis of the left ventricular pressure curve. Dr. Goodyer was recognized for his teaching skills and the Yale inpatient cardiology service proudly bears his name.

He was succeeded in 1970 by Lawrence S. Cohen, M.D., the Ebenezer K. Hunt Professor of Medicine. Dr. Cohen oversaw the early growth of cardiac catheterization, coronary arteriography and coronary care for patients at Yale New Haven Hospital. He initiated the Yale trials comparing medical cardiac treatment and bypass surgery in patients with stable angina pectoris. He then led the Yale trials of thrombolytics in unstable angina and myocardial infarction and laid the foundation for much of the subsequent clinical trials research in the Section. Dr. Cohen, an accomplished teacher, started and for 39 years led the medical student course in cardiac auscultation, “Learning Heart Sounds”. He is a recipient of the Francis Gilman Blake Award of the Yale School of Medicine for Outstanding Teaching of the Medical Sciences. He is the past president of the Association of University Cardiologists, and past president of the Interurban Clinical Club, founded by William Osler in 1905. He also chaired the Clinical Trials Review Committee of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for two terms.

Dr. Cohen’s successor, Barry L. Zaret, MD, the Robert W. Berliner Professor of Medicine, was appointed chief of cardiology in 1978, a position he held until 2004. Dr. Zaret is the founder of the field of nuclear cardiology and has contributed immensely to our understanding of coronary blood flow physiology, ventricular function, management and risk assessment of cardiovascular disease, the development of core laboratories for large clinical trials, and the development of molecular imaging. He was the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Nuclear Cardiology, a position he held for twelve years. His textbook “Clinical Nuclear Cardiology: State-of-the-Art and Future Directions”, co-edited with Dr. George Beller and now in its fourth edition, is the preeminent textbook in the field. He served as President of the Association of Professors of Cardiology, an organization he helped found. Dr. Zaret continues as a member of the full time faculty. He has also recently published his first volume of poetry and has exhibited his oil paintings at galleries in New Haven and the Berkshires.

Today, Yale Cardiovascular Medicine has 119 full time and 9 adjunct faculty members. The Section operates four specialized research centers, provides a full spectrum of clinical cardiovascular care and offers an array of training programs in cardiovascular medicine and research.