South Florida Hospital News
Sunday May 26, 2019
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March 2009 - Volume 5 - Issue 9

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Florida Heart Salutes One of Their Own

We are all extremely fond of reading about the latest advances in medical research. More compelling than intellectual or even "sensational" curiosity is the simple and compelling fact that each of us either suffers from or knows someone who suffers from—or has lost someone to any of a number of illnesses. Therefore, research, although at times somewhat ethereal, is the future rather than the present in medicine. As such, it is the focus of our greatest hopes.

Much less glamorous tends to be the stories of the very individuals who bring these innovative ideas into reality. The reason is simple. That exciting breakthrough which captivates the reporters (and, perhaps in more lucrative times, the investors) is invariably the result of years of tireless dedication –establishing proof of concept, testing hypotheses, launching investigations, adjusting to unforeseen and unexpected results, attempting to translate scientific concept into clinical context, etc. Yet somehow, all of these disciplined and sometimes tedious efforts can distract from the ultimate goal of developing therapeutics which will benefit those who are ill.

It is for this reason that we are so very fortunate at the Florida Heart Research Institute to benefit from the long-term and faithful service of our Medical Director, Dr. Maria Canossa-Terris. Trained in medicine and cardiology in her home country of Argentina, Maria came to Miami over 25 years ago where she joined the research team at the renowned Miami Heart Institute. Those were years that saw many clinical innovations emerge, including the use of coronary care units dedicated to critical care of heart patients, noninvasive imaging of myocardial ischemia, advanced treatments for blood lipid disorders, recognition of the role of our haemostatic system in critical cardiac events, etc. As Medical Director, Maria guided the research enterprise through the stormy waters of change, the sale of the hospital portion of the business and the continued development of the Research Institute as a free-standing independent organization dedicated to stopping heart disease through research, education and prevention. However, throughout this period, Dr. Terris maintained her focus on top level clinical research, serving as a principal investigator on well over 50 clinical trials, covering a broad spectrum of vital areas of investigation—everything from hypertension to hyperlipidemia to congestive heart failure. Many of these were pivotal studies that resulted in major therapeutic advances. Yet, despite this most impressive record, Dr Terris remains a humble, disciplined and focused researcher.

In recent years, she has turned her attention toward reviewing the data on over 5,000 patients who have participated in the free cardiovascular risk factor screenings that she has organized here at the Research Institute in an effort to better understand the specific cardiovascular risk profile of Miami’s Hispanic population. Her focus is determining how our local Hispanic population compares to that which has been presented in the literature based largely on Mexican, rather than Caribbean and South American populations, and how that information can be used to better address the specific prevention and treatment needs of Miami’s robust Hispanic population. Recent findings from this research have been presented to the American Society of Hypertension and the American Heart Association.

It should not go unnoticed that, in an era of rapid change and frequent turmoil, it is rare for an institution to enjoy the services of such a dedicated and faithful participant as Dr. Terris. Her long and distinguished service to the Florida Heart Research Institute lends an invaluable perspective and vitality to our work, and serves as a rare example of the quiet dedication which is so vital to the successful conduct of meaningful research.

Dr. Paul Kurlansky, board certified cardiothoracic surgeon, Director of Research at the Florida Heart Research Institute, can be reached at (305) 674-3154 or pak@floridaheart.org.
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