Los Angeles,
05:00 AM

Smidt Heart Institute at 5: Breakthroughs in Research, Patient Care

International Leader in Cardiac Medicine Celebrates Fifth Anniversary of $50M Gift to Advance Leading-Edge Research, Patient Care and Commitment to Los Angeles

Marking the five-year anniversary of the $50 million gift that named the Smidt Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai is highlighting major research breakthroughs and clinical innovations pioneered by one of the nation’s leading destinations for cardiac care. 

The Smidt Heart Institute was named five years ago following the gift from Susan and Eric Smidt and The Smidt Foundation, then the largest gift in Cedars-Sinai history, to foster national and international advances in cardiac health. To mark this anniversary, the Smidts are celebrating the institute’s nearly 800 staff and faculty with special events and gifts to honor their dedication and lifesaving achievements.  

“The amazing team at the Smidt Heart Institute has made Cedars-Sinai a global leader in cardiac care and research,” said Eric Smidt, founder and CEO of national retailer Harbor Freight Tools.

Susan Smidt added, “Eric and I are awed by how this community treasure, dedicated to helping and healing the hearts of Los Angeles, has grown to be the nation’s leading center for cardiac care and innovation.”

The Smidt Heart Institute ranked #1 in California and #3 in the nation for Cardiology & Heart Surgery in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals 2022-23.” The institute is home to the independent departments of Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery as well as 21 centers and programs specializing in all aspects of heart care, including cell therapy, minimally invasive valve procedures, robotic surgery, treatments for congenital heart disease and organ transplantation.

The experts of the Smidt Heart Institute are dedicated to battling heart disease, the leading cause of death in Los Angeles County, the U.S. and around the world. That staggering fact continues to motivate the institute’s physicians, nurses, technicians, researchers and administrators to produce noteworthy achievements.

Over the past five years, Cedars-Sinai transplant teams performed more adult heart transplants than any other medical institution in the nation—603 in all. Since the founding of the Smidt Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai has remained the largest heart transplant program in the U.S.—a designation it has held since 2010.

Smidt Heart Institute surgeons also have pioneered new, minimally invasive techniques for lung transplantation, performing 74 transplants in fiscal year 2022. The Smidt Heart Institute is now the largest cardiothoracic transplant center by volume in California and the third largest by volume in the U.S.

The Smidt Heart Institute has produced numerous other major clinical and scientific advances over the last five years, securing more than $192 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, charitable foundations and other sources.

Institute physicians, meanwhile, have developed innovations to improve patient care.

In 2019, Evan Zahn, MD, co-director of the Smidt Heart Institute’s Vera and Paul Guerin Family Congenital Heart Program and director of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology, implanted the world’s first Abbott Piccolo mesh device for minimally invasive treatment of the most common, life-threatening heart defects in premature babies.

Raj Makkar, MD, Cedars-Sinai’s vice president of Cardiovascular Innovation and Intervention and the Stephen R. Corday, MD, Chair in Interventional Cardiology, developed revolutionary heart valve interventions, including replacing both mitral and tricuspid heart valves in minimally invasive procedures that help patients avoid cardiac surgery.

Simultaneously, cardiac intensive care specialists, led by Michael Nurok, MD, PhD, broke new ground in using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to help heal the lungs of COVID-19 patients, while enabling other patients to survive while waiting for transplants.

The Smidt Middle East Fellowship also welcomed its first research postdoctoral fellows, who come from Israel and neighboring Arab countries, in 2022 to train together in focused areas of cardiology and cardiovascular surgery.

“We remain committed to pushing the boundaries of research and clinical care for the thousands of patients who turn to us for their heart health,” said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, executive director of the Smidt Heart Institute and the Mark Siegel Family Foundation Distinguished Professor.

The Smidt Heart Institute is marking its five-year anniversary by hosting community screening and heart health programs at community centers across Greater Los Angeles, including the Community Health Fair at Roxbury Park on Feb. 23 and the Community Health Fair at a Seventh-day Adventist Church on Feb. 26. Cedars-Sinai’s world-class medical teams will provide screenings for adults and children with limited access to healthcare and help manage chronic illnesses that affect the heart, such as diabetes and hypertension. Over the last five years, Cedars-Sinai’s Community Benefits program has treated more than 50,000 people across Los Angeles County with no-cost screenings, care and education.

“Cedars-Sinai is immensely proud of the Smidt Heart Institute and its impact on transformative research and lifesaving clinical care,” said Cedars-Sinai President and CEO Thomas M. Priselac. “The faculty and staff are changing lives for the better every day. We are confident that the institute will continue to expand the frontiers of cardiac science and care to benefit patients in Los Angeles and around the globe.”