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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 2021

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

Renu Virmani (Gaithersburg, USA)

Dr. Virmanis.jpgRenu Virmani, M.D., F.A.C.C. is an internationally renowned cardiovascular pathologist, recognized as a leading researcher in the field of cardiovascular disease treatments and presently serves as the President of CVPath Institute, which she founded in 2005. Dr. Virmani received her M.D. from Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi University, New Delhi, India.
Lecturing at scientific meetings all over the world, Dr. Virmani has delivered more than 800 presentations. She has authored or co-authored over 800 publications in peer-reviewed journals covering atherosclerosis, vulnerable plaque, stents and other cardiovascular diseases; she has edited seven books, written more than 100 book chapters and is also a manuscript reviewer for many top scientific journals.
Among numerous outstanding honors and awards, Dr. Virmani has delivered the Laennec Clinician/Educator Lecture Award for the American Heart Association in 2010; she has received the TCT Career Achievement Award from the Cardiovascular Research Foundation in 2012; the ICI Innovations in Cardiovascular Interventions Award in 2013; the Female Luminary Award from the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions Foundation in 2016; she received an honorary degree from the University of Antwerp, Belgium as well as many other honorary awards including from the European Society of Cardiology and EuroPCR. Dr. Virmani has recently won the TCTAP “11th Master of Masters 2021 Award.”
Dr. Virmani is currently a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pathology at Georgetown University; University of Maryland-Baltimore; George Washington University; and Vanderbilt University. From 1984 until 2004, she was Chairperson of the Department of Cardiovascular Pathology of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Dr. Virmani is a member of the American Heart Association, the U.S. and Canadian Academy of Pathology, and is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology.

Read the ESC Congress News article

Nilesh Samani (Leicester, UK)


Current posts
2016- Medical Director, British Heart Foundation
1997- Professor of Cardiology, University of Leicester (2003-2016, BHF Professor)
1997- Honorary Consultant Cardiologist, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
Previous posts
2009-17 Director of NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Unit in Cardiovascular Disease
2003-16 Head of Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, University of Leicester
1993-97 Senior Lecturer in Cardiology, University of Leicester
1988-93 Lecturer in Cardiology, University of Leicester
1985-88 MRC Clinical Training Fellow, Dept. of Biochemistry, University of Leicester
1984-85 Registrar in Medicine, Leicester Royal Infirmary
1982-84 Senior House Officer in Medicine: Royal Postgraduate Medical School Hammersmith
Hospital; Guy’s Renal Unit; National Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Queen’s Square
1981-82 House Officer in Medicine and Surgery, Leicester Royal Infirmary

I have published >540 original papers with >78,000 citations and have an h-index (Scopus) of 124. These include 15 papers in Nature, 51 in Nature Genetics, 1 in Science, 5 in NEJM, 15 in Lancet, 3 in JAMA, 6 in PNAS, 13 in Circulation,16 in European Heart Journal and 20 in JACC. Between 2014-2018, I was included in the list of most highly cited researchers compiled by Thomson Reuters.
 I have supervised/co-supervised over 30 PhD and MD students and mentored many colleagues who have progressed to chairs and established their own research groups.
I have been awarded >£30 million research funding with programmatic support from all major UK biomedical funders (MRC, Wellcome, BHF, NIHR) as well as international funders (EU, Leducq).
I have led, chaired or participated in multiple national and international research consortia, including EURHYPGEN (PI), Cardiogenics (Co-PI), CARDIoGRAMPlusC4D (Chair), WTCCC (co-I), ENGAGE, and BIOSTAT-CHF (WP Lead).

Until my appointment as BHF Medical Director, I had maintained a full clinical practice throughout my career, including interventional cardiology and on-call and was awarded a NHS Platinum Excellence award in 2010 (renewed in 2015). I still undertake one clinic a week.
In 2002, together with members of the local community, I established Heartsearch, a charity whose principle aim is to raise awareness of heart disease, its symptoms and risk factors. The charity, through its volunteers, organizes regular open public meetings, especially in socioeconomically deprived areas of Leicester, often attended by hundreds of people, where people receive information and advice from health professionals and have the opportunity to have their risk factors checked.
In 2008, I was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire. Working under the Lord Lieutenant as part of the Leicestershire Lieutenancy, the role offers me the opportunity to undertake civic functions such as citizenship ceremonies and to provide support and visibility to local charity and volunteer organisations.

Read the ESC Congress News article

Akira Endo (Tokyo, Japan)

AKIRA ENDO.JPGMarch 1957 : Bachelor of Agriculture from Tohoku University Faculty of Agriculture, Sendai, Japan
April 1957 : Research Fellow, Sankyo Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan
Sept. 1966 : Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Tohoku University
Research Associate, Department of Molecular Biology (Prof. Dr. B.L. Horecker), Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, U.S.A.
Aug. 1968 : Research Fellow, Sankyo Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan
Apr. 1969 : Senior Research Fellow, Sankyo, Co., Ltd.
Jan. 1979 : Associate Professor, Tokyo Noko University Faculty of Agriculture, Fuchu, Tokyo, Japan
Dec. 1986 : Professor, Tokyo Noko University Faculty of Agriculture
Apr. 1997 : Emeritus Professor, Tokyo Noko University (retired). Chairman, Biopharm Research Laboratories, Inc., Kokubunji, Tokyo, Japan


Oct. 1987 : Heinrich Wieland Prize (Germany)
Mar. 1988 : Torey Prize for Science and Technology (Japan)
May 2000 : Warren Alpert Foundation Prize (USA)
Apr. 2006: Japan Ptize(Japan)
Nov. 2006: Massry Prize(USA)
Sep. 2008: Lasker~Debakey Clinical Medical Research Award

Read the ESC Congress News article


ESC Gold Medal 2020

Kári Stefánsson (Reykjavik, IS)

KariStefansson high solution.jpgKári Stefánsson, M.D., Dr. Med. is founder and CEO of Reykjavik-based deCODE genetics. In Iceland he has pioneered the use of population-scale genetics to understand variation in the sequence of the human genome. His work, published in more than 600 scientific papers, has focused on how genomic diversity is generated and on the discovery of sequence variants impacting susceptibility to common diseases. The population approach he has advanced in Iceland has served as the model for national genome projects around the world and contributed to the realization of several aspects of precision medicine, including to the discovery and development of therapeutic targets and compounds for Amgen. Prior to founding deCODE in 1996 he was professor of neurology, neuropathology and neuroscience at Harvard and had previously held faculty positions in neurology, neuropathology and neurosciences at the University of Chicago, from 1983-1993.

Dr. Stefansson has received some of the highest honors in biomedical research and genetics, including the including the Sackler Lecture at MIT, the European Society of Human Genetics Award, the Anders Jahre Award, the American Alzheimer’s Association’s Inge Grundke-Iqbal Award, the Federation of European Biomedical Societies’ Sir Hans Krebs Medal, and the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) William Allan Award. His work has been recognized by major international publications and bodies including Time, Newsweek, Forbes, BusinessWeek and the World Economic Forum. He holds Iceland's highest honor, the Order of the Falcon, and in 2019 was elected the first president of the Nordic Society of Human Genetics and Precision Medicine.

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Stefanie Dimmeler (Frankfurt, DE)

Dimmeler-Stephanie.jpgDr. Dimmeler received her undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. degree from the University of Konstanz in Konstanz (Germany). She then completed a fellowship in Experimental Surgery at the University of Cologne and in Molecular Cardiology at the University of Frankfurt (Germany). She is Professor of Experimental Medicine (since 2001) and Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Regeneration, Center for Molecular Medicine at the University of Frankfurt since 2008. She is author of more than 300 peer-reviewed papers, published in highly qualified journals. Her global impact factor (IF) is higher than 1000 and her h-index is 125. In the last years, she has been invited as a speaker in more than 300 national and international meetings and seminars and has presented various keynote lectures. She received several awards including the Award of the German Heart Foundation in 1998, the Frankel-Award of the German Cardiac Society in 2000, the Alfred Krupp Award 2002, the Leibniz Award 2005, the Award of the Jung Foundation 2007 and the FEBS award 2006. She presented the prestigious George E. Brown Memorial Lecture at the Scientific Sessions of the AHA in 2005, the Basic Science Lecture of the European Society of Cardiology in 2006. She received the Science4life award, the GlaxoSmithKline Award and the Madrid Award for Stem Cell Therapy in 2014 and as well in 2017 the Willi-Pitzer Award. In 2015 she presented the Thomas W. Smith Memorial Lecture at the Scientific Sessions of the AHA and in 2016 the Michael Oliver Memorial Lecture at the BAS Autumn Meeting as well as the Paul Dudley White Lecture at the Scientific Sessions of the AHA. She also was among the Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher 2014 and 2015. She was chief editor of “EMBO Molecular Medicine” and associated editor of the “European Heart Journal”. She is associated editor of “Circulation Research”. Since 2017 she is Member of the German Academy for Science Leopoldina and in 2018 she received the Selby Travelling Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science. From 2020 on she is Member on the BCVS Specialty Conference Program Committee of the Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences. As well she is spokesperson of the “Excellence Cluster Cardio-Pulmonary System” (ECCPS), a translational research centre in the field of vascular and parenchymal heart and lung diseases, funded by the German Research Foundation and also spokesperson of the “Cardiopulmonary Institute” (CPI) which is funded by the Excellence Strategy Program of the German Research Foundation. From 2021 on she is also spokesperson of the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK). She also received two Advanced Investigator Grants by the European Research Community (ERC).

Her group elucidates the basic mechanisms underlying cardiovascular disease and vessel growth with the aim to develop new cellular and pharmacological therapies for improving the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Ongoing research focuses on epigenetic mechanisms that control cardiovascular repair, specifically non-coding RNAs.

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John McMurray (Glasgow, GB)

McMurray-John-2020.jpgProf McMurray, BSC (Hons), MB ChB (Hons), MD, FRCP, FESC, FACC, FAHA, FRSE, FMedSci, OBE, is currently Professor of Medical Cardiology and Deputy Director (Clinical) of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences and honorary Consultant Cardiologist at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow.

Prof McMurray’s primary research interests are in heart failure and the cardiovascular consequences of diabetes and chronic kidney disease, with a focus on clinical trials. He is, or was, the principal investigator, member of the executive committee or steering committee member for several large trials in his areas of interest including CHARM-Added, EMPHASIS-HF, PARADIGM-HF and DAPA-HF.

Professor McMurray served as the inaugural Eugene Braunwald Scholar in Cardiovascular Disease at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and visiting Professor of Medicine, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts USA 2010/2011. He is a Past-President of the Heart Failure Association of the ESC.
He is a Highly Cited Researcher and has a H-index of 195.

He has won several awards, including the Stokes Medal of the Irish Cardiac Society. In June 2015, Professor John McMurray and Professor Salim Yusuf (McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario, Canada) were jointly awarded the 8th Arrigo Recordati International Prize for Scientific Research (for outstanding contributions in secondary prevention and risk reduction strategies in patients with cardiovascular diseases). Prof McMurray is the recipient of the Mackenzie Medal, which is awarded by the British Cardiovascular Society in recognition of outstanding service to British Cardiology. He is also the recipient of the Louis and Artur Lucian Award for Research in Circulatory Diseases, which is awarded each year by McGill University, Montreal. This international award recognises outstanding research in the field of circulatory diseases by a scientific investigator, or group of investigators, whose contribution to knowledge in this field is deemed worthy of special recognition. Professor McMurray was awarded an OBE in 2019 by Her Majesty The Queen, in recognition of his services to cardiovascular research.

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ESC Gold Medal 2019

Mariell Jessup MD


Dr. Jessup is Chief Science and Medical Officer of the American Heart Association and an Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She has spent her career in the investigation and management of patients with heart failure.
Dr. Jessup has been a member of the committee for ACC/AHA Guidelines for the Management of Heart Failure since 2001. She served on the European Society of Cardiology’s Heart Failure Guideline writing committee as well. She has served as the Chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM) Cardiovascular Board, and for two years as the Chair of the Committee for Scientific Sessions Program of the AHA. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the national AHA, and President from 2013-2014.. She completed a 4-year term on the Residency Review Committee-Internal Medicine of the ACGME, and a 6-year term on the ABIM’s Cardiovascular Board. She joined the Board of the Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant cardiology secondary subspecialty, and became Chair for two years. She was the inaugural Chief Scientific Officer of the Leducq Foundation from January 2017 through August of 2018, before moving to the American Heart Association role.

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Hugo A Katus

Katus-Hugo-300x405.jpgHugo A Katus is Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the Department of Internal Medicine III (Cardiology, Angiology, Pneumology) and Head of Internal Medicine at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He is also Head of Cardiology at two affiliated hospitals in the Heidelberg area. He is chairing the German Center for Cardiovascular Research Heidelberg/Mannheim (DZHK) and served as Speaker of the National Genome Research Network (NGFN). Prof. Katus was founder and director of the Academy of German Cardiac Society and is the now the Past-President of German Cardiac Society.
Professor Katus invented the cardiac troponin T assay, for which he holds a patent jointly with Roche Diagnostics. This invention changed practice of cardiology. In addition to his research interest in cardiac biomarkers he focused on molecular and genetic causes of cardiomyopathies and promoted in the translation of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in heart failure. He is Co-Founder of InoCard GmbH, a company for the translation of molecular treatment strategies in cardiovascular diseases.
Professor Katus is member of the AHA, the ACC (German Chapter) the ESC and board member of the German Cardiac Society. He is co-editor of the Journal Clinical Research in Cardiology, which is the official scientific journal of the German Cardiology Society. He serves as reviewer for many national grant review committees suc as the British Heart Foundation, the Swiss “Herzfond” , the Agency National Francais, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Deutsche Herzstiftung.

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Christine Seidman

Seidman-Christine-300x405.jpgChristine Seidman is the Thomas W. Smith Professor of Medicine and Genetics at Harvard Medical School, an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Director of the Cardiovascular Genetics Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She was an undergraduate at Harvard College and received a M.D. from George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Seidman served as an intern and resident in Internal Medicine at John Hopkins Hospital and received subspecialty training in cardiology at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Seidman has pioneered the discovery of the genetic basis for heart muscle disorders, including hypertrophic and dilated cardiomyopathies and congenital heart disease. By engineering human mutations into iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes and mouse models she has identified molecular mechanisms and therapeutic targets. Her work has enabled development of clinical gene-based diagnostics, early and accurate identification of at-risk individuals, and pre-emptive interventions to limit the progression and devastating outcomes associated with these disorders.

Dr. Seidman is the recipient of the American Heart Association Basic Science Prize and Joseph A. Vita Award, the American Society for Clinical Investigation Award, the Pasarow Foundation Award in Cardiovascular Research, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cardiovascular Research and the Institut de France Fondation Lefoulon-Delalande Grand Prix for Science Award. She is a member of U.S. National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Science.

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ESC Gold Medal 2018

Marc Alan Pfeffer, M.D., Ph.D.

Dzau Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Senior Physician, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Boston, MA, USA

Dr. Marc Pfeffer is the Dzau Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Senior Physician in the Cardiovascular Division at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. A noted researcher, Dr. Pfeffer, along with his late wife, Dr. Janice Pfeffer, and Eugene Braunwald MD, is credited with introducing the concept that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) could attenuate adverse ventricular remodelling following myocardial infarction and that this use would result in a prolongation of survival and other clinical benefits. Since this initial discovery, he has had a principal role in several practice-changing clinical trials such as SAVE, CARE, HEART, VALIANT, CHARM, PEACE, ARISE, TREAT, ALTITUDE, TOPCAT and ELIXA.

Dr. Pfeffer is considered as a team builder and takes pride in academic advancement of trainees and junior faculty collaborating on the trials. He is known for his fairness in data sharing and assisting others in developing meaningful scholarly works from study databases. He sets high standards for relationships with the sponsors whether industry or NHLBI.

Dr. Pfeffer serves on the Data Safety Monitoring Boards of major international trials. An internationally recognized expert in the field of cardiology, he was recognized by Science Watch as having the most ‘Hot Papers’ (highly cited) in all of clinical medicine. Dr. Pfeffer was listed as one of the highly influential biomedical researchers of 1996-2011 in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation. He is the recipient of the William Harvey Award of the American Society of Hypertension, the Okamoto Award from Japan’s Vascular Disease Research Foundation, the Clinical Research Prize, the James B. Herrick Award and was honored by the Distinguished Scientist Award from both the American Heart Association as well as the American College of Cardiology, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from both the Heart Failure Society of America and the Heart Failure Association of the European Congress of Cardiology. Dr. Pfeffer is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and is the recipient of an Honorary Doctoral Degree from Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Evgeny V. Shlyakhto

Director of the Almazov Centre, Russia

Professor Evgeny Shlyakhto, Director General of the Almazov National Medical Research Centre, Academician of the Russian Academy of Science, President of the Russian Society of Cardiology, Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, and the American College of Cardiology.

Professor Shlyakhto was born on June 29, 1954 in Pogar, the Bryansk region. He graduated from the Pavlov Medical University in Saint Petersburg in 1977 and became Doctor of Science in Medicine in 1992, Professor in 1994, Honored Russian Scientist in 2004, and Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2014.

Evgeny Shlyakhto has been the Director General of the Almazov National Medical Research Centre since 2001 and the President of the Russian Society of Cardiology since 2011. In 2010, he became a member of the WHO Expert Working Group.

The Centre led by Prof. Shlyakhto carries out intensive research in the fields of translational medicine, molecular diagnostics, development of diagnostic tools for personalized treatment, cellular and tissue engineering for therapeutic purposes, creation of biocompatible materials and tissue-engineered constructs designed to create breakthrough medical technologies of fundamental importance for providing high-tech care to patients with cardiovascular, endocrine and blood diseases.

The results of research work by Prof. Shlyakhto have been summarized in more than 800 publications, 16 inventions, 2 scientific discoveries, and a number of monographs. Prof. Shlyakhto was a supervisor in 57 PhD and 20 DSc students..

Professor Shlyakhto is a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Science, the Presidential Council for Science and Education, the Regional Health Council under the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly, the Expert Health Council of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy of the Russian Federal Assembly, Vice President of the National Medical Chamber.

Evgeny Shlyakhto is the Editor-in-Chief of the following medical journals: Russian Journal of Cardiology, Translational Medicine, and Journal of Arrhythmology. He also is a member of the international editorial board of the European Heart Journal.

Professor Shlyakhto plays an active role in such international committees as the ESC Congress Programme Committee (since 2012) and of the ESC Committee for Practice Guidelines (since 2015).

Evgeny Shlyakhto received the Russian Federation Government Prize in science and technology in 2009 and won the Pavlov Award, the prize for scientific and technological achievement in Physiology and Medicine from the Saint Petersburg Government and St. Petersburg Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in 2011. He received an Order of Honour in 2012 and 4th class Order of Merit for the Motherland in 2017.

Ottavio Alfieri, MD

Professor of Cardiac Surgery
S. Raffaele University Hospital in Milan, Italy

In the initial part of his career he was devoted to the treatment of congenital heart diseases, first in Bergamo, Italy and then in USA, as Clinical Fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, NY and as a Research Fellow at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
His experience with adult cardiac surgery started in 1980 at the St. Antonius Hospital in Neuwegein, NL, where he spent six years as member of the staff.

He came back to Italy in 1986 to become Chief Surgeon at the Ospedali Civili in Brescia. Ten years later he moved to Milan as Professor and Chairman of Cardiac Surgery at San Raffaele University Hospital.

He is author or co-author of more than 600 peer-reviewed papers, related to many areas of cardiac surgery.
He is member of the editorial board of several scientific journals.

His main interest is surgery for valvular heart disease (particularly mitral valve repair).

In the early ‘90s he originally developed the Edge-to-Edge technique, a method of mitral valve repair which is the basis of the currently most used type of percutaneous correction of mitral regurgitation.

During the last 15 years he has been very active in favouring in his department the multidisciplinary approach in the treatment of cardiac diseases. Particularly he was able to introduce transcatheter technologies in the daily cardiac surgical practice.

In 2011, he served as President of the European Association of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS).
He is currently member of the ESC, EACTS, AATS, STS.

He is now President of the “Alfieri Heart Foundation” created to support research and innovation at the San Raffaele University Hospital.

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?

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)




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

ESC President 2006-2008

ESC President 2008-2010

Fausto PINTO
ESC President 2014-2016