LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Laman Gray, M.D., a pioneer in heart disease research and the development and use of cardiovascular assist devices and artificial organs, has been named executive director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute. Gray will continue in his role as medical director of CII.
Roberto Bolli, M.D., has been named the scientific director and Stuart Williams, Ph.D., has been named the director of bioficial organ research. The leadership positions were announced following a meeting of the CII Board of Directors.
In 2003 the University of Louisville and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare partnered to create the CII, bringing together some of the finest minds in the field with the goal of improving the quality of life for patients with cardiovascular disease. The CII builds on the success of both organizations’ previous efforts to combat heart disease and heart failure through the development of novel treatments and therapies including adult stem cells, ventricular assist devices, artificial hearts and much more. The chair position of the CII board alternates annually between a designee of the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and the University of Louisville.
“Dr. Gray is one of the giants in the field,” said Louis Waterman, chair of the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and current chair of the CII board. “As the medical director of the Institute, Dr. Gray has successfully led the translational efforts of the basic science findings into clinical therapies. He now will be providing overall leadership to the Institute.”
“Research funding continues to be extremely competitive. It is imperative that we take a comprehensive approach to cardiovascular disease research and this reflects that initiative,” said David L. Dunn, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health affairs at the University of Louisville and outgoing chair of the CCI board. “These changes allow each of the three people to best pursue not only their areas of interest, but their areas of expertise. The reputations of Drs. Bolli and Williams are unsurpassed in their fields. Having them both as part of our scientific and research leadership effort enables our team of researchers and clinicians to attack one of the leading causes of death in the Commonwealth and nationwide – heart disease.”
Gray is internationally known as a leader in the fields of artificial hearts and circulatory support systems. He performed the first heart transplant in Kentucky in 1984. In 2001, his surgical team implanted the first fully implantable replacement heart, the AbioCor™. He served as director of University of Louisville School of Medicine’s Thoracic and Cardiovascular division for over 33 years. In 2008, he was awarded the University of Kentucky Medallion for Intellectual Achievement, which recognizes high intellectual achievement by Kentuckians.
Bolli is a leader in regenerative cardiology, the pioneering use of patient-derived cardiac stem cells to repair heart muscle damaged during a heart attack. He recently received the Research Achievement Award from the American Heart Association “for the profound and lasting impact of his extraordinary contributions to cardiovascular research.”
Williams joined the CII in 2007. His research interests have focused on medical devices, regenerative medicine and infection control. He developed and patented the first methods to use fat-derived stem cells for therapeutic use.