2020 Annual Report



A Letter From Our Board Chair

A Year for Engagement and Growth

For THI, 2020 proved to be a year marked by both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. To mention one aspect on both sides of the spectrum, in October, the Texas Heart Institute successfully launched its new Texas Heart Medical Group, which now serves as a home base for twelve outstanding cardiologists with plans for future expansion.  This highly anticipated debut for THMG followed the passing of Dr. James T. Willerson just a few weeks prior in September.

Dr. Willerson will be remembered as a man who lived an extraordinary life defined by curiosity and passion for the study of the human heart and its myriad complexities. In his memory, THI established the James T. Willerson, MD Editor’s Choice Awards to acknowledge and reward one physician, one fellow or resident in-training, and one researcher who publish the best original research article in the categories of cardiology and cardiovascular surgery in the Texas Heart Institute Journal.  The Texas Heart Institute Journal will also become the official publication for the Texas Heart Institute Cardiac Society, the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society, as well as Texas Heart Institute’s alumni members from the Texas Children’s Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship and Anesthesiology Fellowship and the Texas Heart Institute School of Perfusion Technology Training Programs.

In a year where collaboration seemed impossible, our teams engineered new ways to work together, and internal and external partnerships reached new heights. Our researchers used small molecule drugs, gene therapy, and stem cell technologies to target an assortment of cardiovascular diseases. A promising technology invented by our scientists, that could one day enhance the effectiveness of vaccines, crossed a milestone by entering human clinical trials. The platform could be an important approach to enhance the effectiveness of vaccines to infections like influenza, which is linked to greater risk of heart attacks.

Looking ahead to 2021, we envision a year of forward momentum. Technologies discovered at THI will be used to generate new funding mechanisms to sustain operations, attract talent and grow our portfolio of translational cardiovascular research aimed to help patients with widely known unmet needs in their cardiovascular care.   From effective treatments and smaller, less invasive devices for treating patients with heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias to molecular-based drugs for enhancing therapeutics, THI is pushing the boundaries of discovery to tackle the most challenging problems in cardiovascular medicine today.

I look forward to our community returning to in-person collaboration and celebration of this great Institute’s achievements with real hugs and handshakes.  We are deeply grateful for the decades of support from our local, national, and global community. Our foundation has never been stronger as we remain steadfast in our collective commitment to push the boundaries of discovery for the millions of patients suffering from cardiovascular disease around the world today.


Yours truly,

Eric D. Wade
Chairman, THI Board of Trustees

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