The guidelines recommend areas of future research. In your opinion, what are the priorities for research?
Although atrial fibrillation ablation has come a long way, I do not think anyone in the field is content with the current efficacy of the procedures nor are they happy with the complication rate. So, research on new ablation techniques and technologies that will improve the outcomes of the procedure are needed. In addition, we need to learn more about the safety and efficacy of atrial fibrillation ablation in populations of patients not well represented in clinical trials. These patient populations include those long standing persistent atrial fibrillation, those with heart failure, the elderly, and so forth. We also need to know more about the impact of ablation on hard endpoints such as stroke risk and mortality.
What has been the impact of the 2007 document?
It had a very significant impact on our field. Not only did it define best practices for atrial fibrillation ablation as of 2007, it also made recommendations concerning training as well as the design of clinical trials. Most of the recommendations that were made by the writing group have subsequently been adopted worldwide.
At Boston AF, you also gave a talk about clinical trials in atrial fibrillation ablation. Which recent paper on atrial fibrillation has been the most interesting and which current studies are you most interested in seeing the results of?
There are a large number of ongoing trials that have been designed specifically to get a new technology approved by the FDA for use in atrial fibrillation ablation. I am very interested to see what the two trials of contact sensing ablation catheters will show. One of these studies has completed enrolment and the other is at the half-way point. We all hope that by directly measuring tissue contact, ablation safety and efficacy will improve. We will have to wait at least a year to find out the answer.
As chair of the scientific programme committee for Heart Rhythm 2012, in your view, what are the highlights of this year’s programme?
There will be many highlights of the meeting. Some of these are continued from prior meetings—such as the late breaking abstract sessions, the best technology abstract sessions, the AF Summit, and the Basic Science Forum—and other highlights are new. This year, for example, we have added a significant number of “how to” sessions. Although some of our colleagues come to learn about the latest breakthrough treatments, others come to improve their skills. It is for this reason we decided to include “how to” sessions throughout the meeting.
Another new feature this year are several board review sessions on Saturday morning that are designed specifically for those who will be taking the International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners (IBHRE) Examination or the EP Board Examinations this year. The focus of the meeting this year is on “our patients”. We chose this to emphasise the fact that everything we do as heart rhythm professionals is aimed at ending death and suffering due to heart rhythm disorders.
You have mentored people throughout your career. What do you find most rewarding about mentoring people?
I very much enjoy training and mentoring the next generation of electrophysiologists and researchers in our field. Not only do the trainees I have worked with bring a lot of enthusiasm and hard work to bear on a particular problem, they also have great ideas. I very much enjoy watching their careers when they complete their training and go forth to start their own careers.
Outside of medicine, what are your interests?
Top on my list is my family. I have a wonderful wife Beth, and three children Emily, Daniel, and Eliza. I particularly enjoy sailing, skiing, travel, and playing tennis.
Current professional appointments
2008–present Nicholas J Fortuin professor of Cardiology, Division of Cardiology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA
2000–present Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA
2000–present Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore,USA
1995–present Director of the Tilt Diagnostic Lab, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA
1992–present Director of the Arrhythmia Service, Clinical Electrophysiology Laboratory, and Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia Program, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA
Education and training
1989–1990 Advanced electrophysiology fellow, University of Michigan
1986–1989 Cardiology fellow and electrophysiology fellow, Johns Hopkins
1984–1986 Resident in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
1983–1984 Intern in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital
1983 MD, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
1979 BA, Department of Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown MA, Thesis Title: Conformational Studies of Poly-L-Lysine Using the Electron Spin Resonance Technique
2007–present Association of University Cardiologists
2007–present American Clinical and Climatological Association
2005–present American Heart Association
1991–present American College of Cardiology (JACC Editorial Board 1994–present; Co-director Board Certification Course 2004–present)
1991–present Heart Rhythm Society (first vice president: 2011–2012)