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Robert Myerburg

Robert J Myerburg MD

Professor of Medicine and Physiology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida

Robert J. Myerburg, M.D. was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Johns Hopkins University College of Arts and Sciences for his undergraduate studies, followed by medical school at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1961. After receiving his M.D. degree, Dr. Myerburg continued postgraduate education as a medical intern at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore. This was followed by two years in the Heart Disease Control Program of the United States Public Health Service, based in Miami, Florida. He then continued his postgraduate training in a residency in Internal Medicine in the Tulane University program at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, followed by training in cardiovascular medicine in the Emory University program at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Subsequently, he enrolled in a National Institutes of Health-sponsored postdoctoral research fellowship in the research laboratories of Dr. Brian F. Hoffman in the Department of Pharmacology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

Dr. Myerburg joined the faculty of the University of Miami School of Medicine in 1970 as Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Physiology, and Chief of the Cardiology Service at the Miami Veterans Administration Hospital. Three years later, he was appointed Director of the Division of Cardiology for the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital, a position which he held to 2004. He achieved the rank of Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Physiology in 1974.

Throughout his career, Dr. Myerburg’s research and clinical interests have focused on cardiac rhythm disturbances and sudden cardiac death. He and his colleagues have contributed to the knowledge base in cardiac electrophysiology through studies in normal hearts and in experimental models of abnormal conditions. His work has included studies of the physiology of the normal and abnormal intraventricular conducting system, activation patterns of normal and abnormal muscle, and pathophysiologic mechanisms for cardiac arrhythmias induced in experimental models of coronary artery disease. The studies have ranged from the electrophysiology of single cells and ion channels, to isolated multicellular preparations and intact hearts. He and his colleagues have described local and regional differences in cardiac electrophysiology, and integrated the alternations observed at a cellular level to concepts of intact heart electrophysiology. In parallel with the experimental studies, Dr. Myerburg and his clinical colleagues have carried out extensive studies on the clinical profile of individuals at risk for sudden cardiac death and survivors of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. These studies have included epidemiologic characteristics, clinical predictors, and the effects of various interventions on responses to cardiac arrest and its prevention. They have also contributed to clinical information on forms of heart rhythm disturbances which are not life-threatening.

In recent years, the interests of Dr. Myerburg and his colleagues have expanded into new directions, including paradigms for predicting and responding to cardiac arrest in the community and the application of clinical genetics to the problem of sudden cardiac death. In the former, the activities have resulted in broadened use of portable defibrillators in new emergency vehicle strategies, such as the deployment throughout the Miami-Dade County police department, and attempts to increase awareness of the importance of screening for risk of sudden death among adolescents and young athletes. In the genetic field, they have established a Cardiovascular Genetics Center on the University of Miami campus, in conjunction with the Miami Heart Research Institute, dedicated to clinical applications, as well as research into new methods of genetic testing for cardiovascular disorders. In addition to his research activities, Dr. Myerburg has been responsible for the clinical programs in cardiovascular medicine on the University of Miami Medical Campus and educational programs for postgraduate training in cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Myerburg’s additional personal clinical interests in recent years has expanded to the field of genetic disorders associated with sudden death risk, particularly in adolescents, young adults, and athletes.

During his career, Dr. Myerburg has authored or co-authored more than 470 refereed articles published in scientific journals, more than 138 chapters published in books or monographs, and more than 342 scientific abstracts presented at major national or international meetings. He has written the chapter on “Cardiac Arrest and Sudden Cardiac Death” in Braunwald’s textbook, Heart Disease, and the chapter on “Cardiac Arrhythmias and Conduction Disturbances” in Hurst’s textbook, The Heart. He received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Council on Clinical Cardiology of the American Heart Association in 1991, the Michel Mirowski Award for Cardiac Electrophysiology from the John Hopkins University in 1996, the Research Achievement Award of the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology in 2000, and the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award from the University of Miami in 2001. In 2009, he received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Oulu University in Finland, in recognition of his career activities in research and education.

Dr. Myerburg has been active in national and international scientific and public service committees throughout his career, including service on scientific review committees (Study Sections) of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association, scientific program committees of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, and Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology examination writing committees of the American Board of Internal Medicine. He has been elected into the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and served as President of the Association of University Cardiologists, the Association of Professors of Cardiology, and the Association of Sub-Specialty Professors. He previously served as president of the CARE (Cardiac Arrhythmias Research and Education) Foundation, a non-profit organization focusing on public and professional education and research in sudden cardiac death.