America’s Heart Land

Operating Room
Five School of Medicine faculty members have been presidents of the American Heart Association.

The easiest way to get to the top is to start there. When UAB was born in 1969, two of the world’s leaders in cardiovascular care had already been working in the Birmingham medical center, setting the stage for decades of success in cardiac research and treatment.

Tinsley R. Harrison, M.D., was the author of the landmark Principles of Internal Medicine textbook, which literally rewrote the way medical students learned to diagnose patients. Its worldwide fame helped attract some of the best minds in medicine to Birmingham, including John W. Kirklin, M.D., who had made a name for himself at the Mayo Clinic through his revolutionary refinement of the heart-lung machine.

After arriving in 1966 to serve as chair of surgery, Kirklin created the first intensive-care unit to incorporate continuous patient monitoring, which has become the standard setup in hospitals worldwide. He also pioneered research that improved the delivery of cardiac care, helping to build UAB’s reputation as the place to go for complex cardiac procedures.

Did You Know?

Doppler scan

In 1984, UAB Hospital was the first in the United States to use color Doppler echocardiography for visualizing internal cardiac structures.

Harrison and Kirklin’s spirit of innovation continues to thrive at UAB today in Heart and Vascular Services. In fact, U.S. News & World Report has named UAB as one of America’s top heart centers for its efforts in research, prevention, and treatment.

UAB’s cardiovascular specialists focus on everything from cardiac rhythm disorders and hypertension to heart failure and surgical interventions. The new Center for Cardiovascular Biology is now exploring the frontiers of cardiovascular research. These studies could shed new light on how heart disease develops and progresses, which could lead to groundbreaking solutions for its prevention and treatment.