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ESC Gold Medal

The European Society of Cardiology is pleased to honour a certain number of individuals in recognition of their outstanding achievements.

The ESC is proud to be able to recognise these exceptional cardiologists for their contribution to medicine and hope that by recognising them, they will be an inspiration to future generations.

ESC Gold Medal 2017

W Wijns, FESC (Brussels, BE)

W Wijns.jpg

Hear about his professional journey & scientific experiences. 
What made him do it? What lessons has he learned? And what may inspire you?

Join on the ESC TV Stage on Monday 28 August, 10:15

In recent years Professor Wijns has held board memberships in the European Society of Cardiology and the World Heart Federation. He is currently Chairman of PCR, co-Director of Africa PCR and EuroPCR, the official congress of the European Association of Percutaneous Cardiovascular Interventions.

Professor Wijns previously worked at the Thorax Center in Rotterdam, where he was actively involved with the first applications of nuclear cardiology, thrombolysis and coronary dilatation, and the University of Louvain in Brussels, where he was Clinical Professor of Cardiology.

Professor Wijns’ research focuses on heart attacks and sudden death caused by unexpected blockage of arteries supplying the heart with blood and oxygen. 

A DeMaria (La Jolla, US)


will give the "ESC Awards Inspirational Career Lecture" during the Awards Ceremony on Monday 28 August at 18:00 in Dali (The Hub)


Anthony N. DeMaria received his M.D. from the New Jersey College of Medicine in 1968. He did his medical residency at the United States Public Health Service Hospital in Staten Island, New York. In 1981, he accepted the position as Chief of Cardiology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.  In 2004 he founded the UCSD Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center. His field of specialization is cardiac imaging techniques, particularly echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart).

Dr. DeMaria is a Diplomat in the American Board of Internal Medicine and is board certified by the Subspecialty Board in Cardiovascular Disease. He is Past President of the American College of Cardiology and Past President of the American Society of Echocardiography. He has served as a member of the Subspecialty Board on Cardiovascular Disease of the American Board of Internal Medicine and Chair of the Diagnostic Radiology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health. He holds memberships in numerous professional organizations, including the American Heart Association, the American Federation for Clinical Research and the Association of University Cardiologists.

Dr. DeMaria served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology from 2002-2014, and he has served as an editorial consultant and member of various other editorial boards. He has authored or co-authored over 700 articles for medical journals. Dr. DeMaria is listed in the Best Doctors in America and by Good Housekeeping as Best Heart Doctors in America.

ESC Gold Medal 2016

This year, two ESC Gold Medallists receive ESC honours:

Dr. Bernard Gersh and Prof. Alain Cribier.

Dr. Bernard Gersh

Dr. Gersh is Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine having received his undergraduate degree at the University of Cape Town and obtaining a D.Phil at Oxford University.  He also has an Honorary PhD from the University of Coimbra, Portugal.  He has published approximately 880 manuscripts, 140 book chapters, and has edited 15 books.  He has served on multiple editorial boards and is currently Deputy Editor of the European Heart Journal.  Prior awards include the Silver Medal of the European Society of Cardiology, the James B. Herrick Award, the Distinguished Achievement Award of the American Heart Association, Master of the American College of Cardiology, and the Hatter Award for the Advancement of Cardiovascular Science from the University College London and the University of Cape Town.  Dr. Gersh is the 2015 recipient of the Mayo Clinic Distinguished Alumni Award.

Prof. Alain Cribier

Prof. Alain Cribier, MD, has been for 20 years Chief of Cardiology at the University Hospital Charles Nicolle of Rouen, France. He became widely recognized for having developed new interventional technologies for the treatment of valvular heart diseases: Balloon Aortic Valvuloplasty in 1985, Mitral Commissurotomy in 1994, and after 15 years of research the Transcatheter Implantation of Aortic Valves (TAVI), performing the first world case in Rouen in 2002. This last breakthrough technology which is now widely used in the world with more than 300 000 patients treated and an explosive growth will have a durable impact on the pattern of medical practice. Prof Cribier has received a number of prestigious scientific distinctions and awards for his pioneering work. He has published more than 600 indexed articles in the fields of interventional cardiology, valve disease and innovative technologies. 

ESC Gold Medal 2015

This year, three ESC Gold Medallists receive ESC honours:

Professor Keith FoxProfessor Michel Haissaguerre and Professor Richard Popp

Professor Keith Fox

ESC: Professor Fox, you have a long association with the ESC. How did it all start?

KF: I was one of the founding Fellows of the ESC back in the 1990s and since then have been responsible for several studies in acute coronary syndromes and thrombosis, with key results incorporated into European guidelines. Some of our results from the GRACE study, for example, have provided strong evidence on risk assessment and its timing in acute coronary syndromes. At a more formal level I was a board member of the ESC from 2008 to 2010 and from 2012 to 2014, and also Chair of the Scientific & Clinical Programme Committee for the ESC. Last year there were more than 30,000 taking part and a record number of abstracts submitted. That’s plenty of work for the Programme Committee!

And your principal scientific and clinical interests?

Acute coronary diseases and atherothrombosis - in fact, the whole pathway from plaque formation to clinical manifestations. So this has involved me in studies of disease mechanisms in ACS to the assessment of antiplatelet and anticoagulant therapies. Presently, we are looking at the influence of genes and inflammation on plaque rupture events.

Which of these studies are you most proud of?

Well it’s difficult to say. They seem to have happened in a series of chapters, starting with our first studies on tPA in St Louis. But I guess I must be most proud of those whose outcomes have been implemented into guidelines and everyday practice in ACS. So to that extent I’d note our studies from the GRACE registry programme, and the RITA, ROCKET-AF and OASIS programmes. The RITA-3 trial in 2005, for example, compared a strategy of routine angiography and revascularisation in non-STE ACS patients with a non-intervention strategy of watchful management. There was uncertainty about this at the time, but our results over five years clearly showed the benefit of routine intervention. So now, for higher risk patients we adopt a routine strategy of early angiography and intervention. More recently we’ve updated the algorithms derived from the GRACE registry data into a simple web-based and app risk calculator. The original risk prediction model was based on outcomes from more than 100,000 ACS patients, and now the risk scores we calculated have been validated externally and prospectively.

What does an ESC gold medal mean to you?

Of course, I feel very honoured, but also a little embarrassed to be in such company. My contributions to cardiology and the ESC seem somewhat modest alongside those of other gold medallists, but it s a great honour and one that I feel very proud of and very grateful for.

Professor Michel Haissaguerre

ESC: How did you first become interested in cardiology?

MH: Initially, I decided to study medicine because I was interested in psychology. But during my second year internship with Professor Jean Francois Warin in Bordeaux I became fascinated by the way 12-lead ECG traces could describe an invisible electrical mechanism operating within the heart.

What have been your main research interests?

Once simple arrhythmias became, in the words of Douglas Zipes, ‘an endangered species’, the last big hurdle to overcome was cardiac fibrillation. My research team’s contribution has been to demonstrate that these chaotic wavelets have discrete origins, with the igniting sparks located mostly in the pulmonary veins in the atria or Purkinje cells in the ventricles.

How did radio ablation for atrial fibrillation come about?

With Pierre Jais, Mélèze Hocini, Dipen Shah and others I began mapping the first premature beat that initiates fibrillation. We found the sources of AF were not in the atria, but fired from cells in the pulmonary veins located in the vascular wall. It took about four years to be sure of our results – 99% perspiration for 1% inspiration. Now over 300,000 patients have been treated by targeting the pulmonary veins.

Have you done the same for VF?

The same mapping concept was performed for patients with repetitive VF, but proved challenging because of the rapid syncopal nature of VF and isolated runs of ventricular ectopies. We found Purkinje sources initiating VF in both normal hearts and nearly all types of cardiac disease, with confirmation by discrete successful ablation. Such findings could have large therapeutic implications.

What does your new institute hope to achieve?

In 2012 we established the LIRYC Electrophysiology and Heart Modelling Institute in Bordeaux to develop a multidisciplinary programme dedicated to cardiac electrical dysfunctions such as AF, ventricular tachyarrhythmias and electrical ventricular dyssynchrony leading to heart failure using high-resolution mapping, cardiac imaging, signal processing and computer modelling. The institute brings together over 150 practitioners with multiple specialties in electrophysiology - from ion channels to whole heart and patient care.

What are your future research goals?

While we’ve made progress in understanding arrhythmia mechanisms, the identification of risk factors, genetic abnormalities and tissue biomarkers needs to be improved. We need to be able to recognise those individuals who are susceptible to VF and sudden death. Advances will hopefully help optimise screening and therapeutic protocols and reduce the burden of arrhythmic morbidity and mortality.

Professor Richard L Popp

ESC: What first attracted you to cardiology?

RLP: The cardiac physical exam was the most fascinating thing I could imagine - I had always wanted to understand how the heart worked both normally and under the influence of disease.

Who have been your most influential mentors and how did they help your career development?

J. Michael Criley from Johns Hopkins got me involved in angiography and Harvey Feigenbaum from Indiana University was one of the first in the US to use ultrasound for cardiac imaging. I’d also like to acknowledge over 150 dedicated cardiology fellows who taught me an enormous amount and pushed me to answer their challenging questions.

What do you regard as your greatest clinical and or scientific achievement?

I was privileged to be part of the development of virtually all aspects of ultrasound cardiac diagnosis. My work was developing non-invasive ways to measure left ventricular volume, stroke volume and ejection fraction - and establishing standards for examination and measurement methods in echocardiography. With Liv Hatle I helped develop Doppler methods to measure gradients across heart valves and methods to recognise diastolic ventricular dysfunction. But one of my greatest achievements has been my involvement in the careers of a large number of leading academic cardiologists including Fausto Pinto and Jos Roelandt.

What do you regard as the most significant development in your field of cardiology over the last 20 years?

The fact that non-invasive methods have replaced invasive cardiac catheterisation for assessing structural heart disease is a major advance for patients allowing serial monitoring of the natural course of valve disease and heart failure.

Looking into a crystal ball how do you see your field developing?

Use of personal hand-held inexpensive ultrasound imaging devices will have a big role to play in augmenting physical exams. I believe that hand-held ultrasound units, the size of a cell phone, will ultimately replace the stethoscope.

What advice would you give to young cardiologists?

Providing ‘patient centered care’ with a team of healthcare providers should be your focus. Training to do everything the team can provide will not serve either you or the patient well.

How have you achieved a work life balance?

I have been incredibly lucky to have a wonderful wife Janis, two sons and five grandchildren. While you can always get someone to cover your patients, no one else can cover your role as a spouse or parent.

Previous ESC Gold Medal award winners

ESC Gold Medal 2014

  • Professor Petr Widimský
  • Professor Sir Rory Collins
  • Professor Alain Carpentier

ESC Gold Medal 2013

  • Evgeny Chazov
  • Douglas Zipes

ESC Gold Medal 2012

  • Pedro Brugada
  • Patrick Serruys
  • Ryozo Nagai

ESC Gold Medal 2011

  • Henri Kulbertus
  • Jean Claude Daubert
  • Peter Libby

ESC Gold Medal 2010

  • Peter Sleight
  • Christian Cabrol
  • Lars Wallentin

ESC Gold Medal 2009

  • Luigi Tavazzi
  • Frans Van de Werf
  • Shahbudin Rahimtoola

ESC Gold Medal 2008

  • John Martin
  • Jane Somerville
  • Salim Yusuf

ESC Gold Medal 2007

  • Valentine Fuster
  • Karl Swedberg

ESC Gold Medal 1968 - 2006

Pavel LUKL
ESC President 1968 – 1972

ESC President 1972 – 1976

ESC President 1976 – 1980

ESC President 1980 – 1984

ESC President 1984 – 1988

ESC President 1988 – 1990

ESC President 1991 – 1994

Chairman Executive Scientific Committee 1991 – 1994

ESC President 1994 – 1996

ESC President 1996 – 1998

Desmond JULIAN



Sir Richard DOLL


ESC President 1998-2000

Henrick Joan Joost WELLENS

Attilio MASERI

Michiel J. JANSE
Editor in Chief Cardiovascular Research 1994 – 2002

Maarten L. SIMOONS
ESC President 2000-2002




Jean-Pierre BASSAND
ESC President 2002-2004


ESC President 2004-2006

Sir Magdi YACOUB