| UM neurology chair Ralph L. Sacco plans to put a lot of heart into stroke research as head of American Heart Association|
A neurologist as the face of the American Heart Association may sound offbeat — but for the University of Miami's Ralph Sacco, it's a perfect fit. Dr. Sacco, a noted stroke specialist, chairs the Department of Neurology at the university's Miller School of Medicine and next year will begin his term as president of the heart association. Non-cardiologists have headed the research and advocacy organization in the past. He'll be the first neurologist.
The timing is ideal, Dr. Sacco says. The American Stroke Association arm of the heart association formed about 10 years ago, and since, stroke research and education has become an integral part of the organization's mission. Now, the heart association is reshaping its strategic plan to emphasize heart disease and stroke prevention through a healthy, active lifestyle — a principle Dr. Sacco has long pushed. "My whole career and emphasis has been on prevention," he says.
Dr. Sacco acknowledges the down economy as a challenge in his role and in the field as research funding shrinks. A question he plans to address: "how do we keep young investigators motivated, interested, excited in an economy that's becoming tighter?"
In his two years at the university, he's focused on building a strong team, recruiting 18 people in 18 months. He shared his vision for both the university department and the heart association in an interview with Miami Today staff writer Risa Polansky.
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