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I am board-certified in Neurology, with subspecialty board certification in Sleep Medicine. I serve as the Director of the Sleep Division, in the Neurology Department at the Massachusetts General Hospital. My PhD background in physiology and biophysics has inspired the quantitative approaches of my current research endeavors in the field of sleep medicine. I completed Masters training through the mentored Harvard Clinical Investigator Training Program, to transition from basic science to clinical research. I subsequently received grants from Harvard Catalyst (KL2), the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT), the Milton Foundation, and the MGH-MIT Grand Challenge, all of which focused on quantitative home-based phenotyping approaches to sleep apnea and insomnia. These clinical projects are supported and placed in context by my related work in health economic modeling, including an annual course I co-direct at the Harvard Medical School (Medical Decision Analysis and Probabilistic Medical Inference). By combining technological sensing advances with big-data analytics and predictive modeling, my group leverages information from multiple domains of sleep phenotyping to advance clinically relevant insights in sleep medicine.
Jorge Plutzky, M.D. is Director, Preventive Cardiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Plutzky is a nationally and internationally recognized expert on preventive cardiology, hypercholesterolemia and other lipid disorders. He is especially known for his unique role bridging heart disease and metabolic problems like diabetes and obesity as well as insight and experience that spans clinical medicine and basic science, as pursued in his NIH-funded laboratory. This distinct interdisciplinary background has fostered advisory roles with the Food and Drug Administration, including Endocrine and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee membership, work with other diabetes- and cardiovascular-focused organizations, like the Sarnoff Cardiovascular Research Foundation, where he is a past chair of the Scientific Committee and current board member. Dr. Plutzky has been recognized for his scientific contributions as well as his abilities as a teacher with honors that include the University of Cologne’s Klenck Award, Harvard Medical School’s Tucker Collins Lectureship and the Braunwald Teaching Award. Dr. Plutzky received his Bachelor of Arts degree With Highest Distinction (Echol’s Scholar) from the University of Virginia and his M.D. from the University of North Carolina, with distinction for research excellence through an NIH fellowship. Internal medicine residency and cardiology fellowship were all completed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, which also included a post-doctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The primary goal of my research is to improve atrial fibrillation treatment outcomes through the use of clinical resources that maximize adherence to established guidelines. I participated in the establishment of a multidisciplinary treatment protocol for atrial fibrillation in the MGH Emergency Department. Utilization of this protocol was found to reduce hospital admissions five-fold and hospital length of stay >2-fold with no impact on hospital re-admission. These data were described in a manuscript recently accepted for publication (Ptaszek et al., American Journal of Cardiology, 2016). The protocol described in this manuscript has already changed the management of AF in the MGH ED. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of this AF treatment protocol in other hospital settings, I am currently participating in a prospective, multi-center evaluation involving MGH and BWH. I am also participating in an effort to address the under-utilization of anticoagulant therapy for AF, a known issue that leads to many avoidable strokes. I am helping to build a clinical decision support module into the EPIC system. The goal of this software module is to decrease the number of preventable AF- related strokes by maximizing adherence with guidelines for anticoagulation therapy. I am also involved in the preclinical development of technology designed to improve the efficiency and safety of catheter ablation procedures for atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias. For example, I contributed to the development of a multi-electrode mapping catheter that facilitates generation of highly detailed cardiac electroanatomic maps far more rapidly than is possible with conventional mapping methods (Ptaszek et al., Journal of Interventional Cardiac Electrophysiology, 2013). This multi-electrode catheter, which has the potential to reduce ablation procedure time and increase the likelihood of identifying complex arrhythmia substrates, is now being introduced into clinical practice 21 at select sites around the world. I have also contributed to several other advances in ablation technology, including a software system that facilitates automated generation of electroanatomic maps, thus allowing for further reduction in mapping time. I also participated in the development of an ablation catheter that allows for real-time prediction of lesion depth. The design of this catheter addresses the inability of conventional technology to measure energy delivery from the catheter to tissue in real time, resulting in inconsistent lesion depth and arrhythmia recurrence. Publications associated with these projects are in preparation. In addition to my research and clinical activities, I enjoy my teaching commitments. My teaching experience includes the precepting of internal medicine residents, general cardiology fellows, and clinical cardiac electrophysiology fellows in both ambulatory and inpatient settings. I have been nominated for teaching awards twice during my fellowship at MGH and twice since joining the faculty at HMS. I also supervise clinical cardiac electrophysiology fellows during invasive procedures. I deliver lectures to MGH house staff very frequently, and I also deliver lectures to colleagues on a local and national level. These lectures include a standing lecture series describing techniques used to perform percutaneous epicardial access and to obtain percutaneous access to the left atrium via the inter-atrial septum.
Eric Heckman MD. Clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School and attending physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with active clinical practice in sleep, pulmonary, and critical care medicine. Particular clinical interest in complex sleep apnea and circadian disorders. Involved in active research utilizing novel methods of characterizing sleep stability and its link to cardiovascular outcomes in the Framingham Heart Study.
Akshay Desai, MD, MPH is the Director of Heart Failure Disease Management in the Advanced Heart Disease Section of the Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (both in Boston, Massachusetts). He received his undergraduate education at Princeton University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1992 with an A.B. in Public and International Affairs. He was subsequently awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for study at Oxford University, where he completed an M. Phil. in European Politics and Society at Balliol College in 1994. Following on this, he began his medical training at Harvard Medical School where he was awarded the M.D. degree in 1998. He completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2001 and subsequently elected to pursue fellowship training in Cardiovascular Medicine at the same institution. During the final years of subspecialty training in cardiology, he completed additional fellowship training in Heart Failure and Transplantation under the direction of Dr. Lynne Stevenson. Concurrently, he conducted translational research in vascular medicine and diastolic heart failure under the supervision of Dr. Mark Creager. He was awarded an M.P.H. in 2004 from the Harvard School of Public Health. He currently divides his time between clinical care of patients with advanced heart disease and clinical research in cardiovascular clinical trials, with an emphasis on the pathophysiology, pharmacologic treatment, and ambulatory management of patients with heart failure.