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Interventional cardiologist honored

Alice Jacobs wins Paul Dudley White Award

Alice Jacobs

With the mission of helping bridge the gap between clinical science and clinical care, Alice Jacobs has donated her talent for many years to the American Heart Association, which reciprocated this month by honoring her at its gala 2006 Boston Heart Ball. The ball honors work done in Boston and raises money for the AHA.
Jacobs,  a School of Medicine professor of medicine and director of interventional cardiology and the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Boston Medical Center, received the Paul Dudley White Award May 13 at the ball, held at the Westin Copley Place Hotel. The award, presented annually to medical professionals who have made a distinguished contribution to the reduction of disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke, was given in recognition of Jacobs’ leadership as a cardiologist and her work with the American Heart Association, of which she is a recent past president.

Those who have worked with Jacobs say her greatest talent may be her ability to connect science and care and to communicate with others. During her AHA presidency, she visited all 12 AHA affiliates across the country and developed programs such as Interventional Cardiology: Bench to Bedside and Beyond, and Meet the Experts.

Her service to the American Heart Association began in 1981, when she won the Howard B. Sprague Research Fellowship Award for Massachusetts. In 1986, she was invited to serve as a member of the Massachusetts Affiliate Research Peer Review Committee. She rose through the ranks at the AHA by creating scientific programs for national meetings and guidelines for cardiologists nationwide. Jacobs helped expand the clinical sessions at the organization’s annual Scientific Sessions, which were attended by 30,000 cardiovascular clinicians and scientists from around the world. She also chaired the Professional Education Committee that established core elements for all professional education offerings and reorganized the manuscript oversight committee that commissions all scientific statements, science advisories, and practice guidelines. She was president of the AHA Northeast Affiliate from 2003 to 2004, before becoming president of the AHA in 2004. As president, she ushered in the Go Red campaign to raise awareness of heart disease in women, and she helped recruit President Bill Clinton as a spokesperson.

“Her success in leadership roles inspired [the AHA] to make her head of the whole business,” says Thomas Ryan, a professor of medicine at MED and senior consultant and chief emeritus of the BMC department of cardiology. He attributes Jacobs’ success to her many skills and talents. “She’s a very soft-spoken, mild-mannered, and thoughtful person who has the talent to listen, and then make very sound judgments, having gone through this process,” Ryan says. “She also has a prodigious work ethic. She’s a leader by virtue of her own example.”

Ryan recalls being impressed with the way Jacobs handled herself during her first years working at MED’s Catherization Labs in the mid-1980s, as angioplasty began to emerge as an important treatment option. “In many cases it replaced bypass surgery, so it became something of a macho field,” he says. “Here she was in with all these alpha-types, but she used her elbows just as they did and gained their respect and admiration until she convinced them that she was one of them. She is a gem who has sparkled in every setting she has been a part of.”