There were many highlights during last month’s Heart Rhythm 2019, the Heart Rhythm Society’s 40th Annual Heart Rhythm Scientific Sessions in San Francisco. However, one of the best moments was the recognition of Dr. Fred Morady for the Pioneer in Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology award.
Early on, Dr. Morady was on a trajectory for an academic cardiology career, spending his college time in the research lab of Dr. Jeremy Swan (of the Swan-Ganz catheter). He completed his training with Dr. Mel Scheinman in 1980 at the University of California, San Francisco. After a brief stay on faculty there, he moved in the mid 1980s to the University of Michigan, where he became the director of cardiac electrophysiology. Since then, he has made the highest impact possible on nearly every aspect of cardiac electrophysiology, including the basic understanding of arrhythmias, syncope, cardiac arrest, programmed electrical stimulation, and techniques for catheter ablation.
A quick search on PubMed (https://bit.ly/2W2YKkN) reveals 647 peer-reviewed papers. But more important are the lessons that we all regularly learn from him, as he sets the example on a daily basis for what it means to be a successful academic clinical cardiac electrophysiologist. For example:
- Always give the patient hope and consider options others have not.
- Establish a culture of clinical investigation. Consider every patient for a clinical trial.
- Communicate with the referring physician immediately after the procedure is completed.
- Don’t waste time. There is no need to be in a rush, but do not waste a minute. Fred is as efficient as it gets — when he is not doing a procedure, he is either seeing a patient in clinic, or working on a manuscript. No time is wasted. And when he’s done, he goes home to be with his family.
- Keep it simple. Insert the fewest number of catheters and take the least amount of time needed to successfully complete each case.
- Continuously be thinking of randomized trial ideas. When a tough case is presented to Fred, and the rest of the group is frustrated by the lack of published data to help make a decision, Fred views this as an opportunity to study the problem with a randomized trial.
- Do not get bogged down with policies, procedures, protocols, and administrative tasks. Progress is successful resolution of the medical problem, or a paper accepted for publication. Process is not progress.
- Do not procrastinate. When Fred is given a manuscript draft, he returns it fully edited the following morning.
- Recognize early new ideas that have potential. As soon as Fred saw the seminal work from the Bordeaux group in the late 1990s related to ablation of pulmonary vein triggers of atrial fibrillation, he immediately saw that this would change our field, and quickly started performing and studying ablation procedures for atrial fibrillation.
Good leaders lead by example. There are few people in any field who are able to lead by example on so many different fronts — fellow education, procedural prowess, meaningful and applicable clinical research, and faculty mentorship. No one who has ever spent a meaningful amount of time professionally with Fred has found a flaw. Recognizing Dr. Fred Morady with the Pioneer in Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology award was well deserved and inevitable.