UMHS, community take research to heart

November 14, 2016  //  FOUND IN: News,

3D illustration of Heart, medical concept.

The Washtenaw County Heart Ball serves as a celebration of – and fundraiser for – cutting-edge research.

The annual dinner and awards program, which was recently held at Michigan Stadium to benefit the American Heart Association, honors health care professionals for their work in cardiac care. This year’s program brought in a record $306,108 for the AHA to fund local cardiovascular research, education and community service programs.

While some funding will go toward programs such as hands-only CPR-training classes, much of the money also directly support research at institutions like UMHS. The health system is the top recipient of AHA funding in the State of Michigan, with the organization granting more than $6.4 million to UMHS over the past four years. The funds are earmarked for cardiovascular research and spread across dozens of important projects and departments, allowing the health system to fulfill its mission of carrying out world-class health care and research.

The caliber of work performed at UMHS was on full display at the Heart Ball, as the health system swept the three major awards presented during the program.

One honor, the Cor Vitae Award for Community Service, went to Robert Neumar, M.D., Ph.D., who is working on a study of extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or ECPR. Neumar’s team is looking at ECPR as a treatment option for cardiac arrest patients who don’t respond to standard CPR or defibrillation.

In addition to his research, Neumar was lauded as a founding member of SaveMiHeart, a nonprofit initiative uniting community members, first responders, EMS and health systems to improve the rates of cardiac arrest survival.

“It is an honor and privilege to partner with the American Heart Association to save more lives from sudden cardiac arrest in our community, across the State of Michigan, and nationwide,” Neumar said. “The funding for our ongoing research projects will make it easier to provide high quality health care and make a difference in cardiac patients for generations to come.”

Also honored at the Heart Ball was Justus Anumonwo, Ph.D., who received the Young Investigator Award for Excellence. He was recognized for his work as an independent investigator and collaborator in the area of cardiac ion channels and cardiac arrhythmias.

Meanwhile, Richard Prager, M.D., earned the Couer D’Or (Heart of Gold) Award for Excellence. Prager, one of the leading heart surgeons in Michigan, has led the state’s initiative to improve quality outcomes and data reporting for cardiac surgery.

For more information and to see photos from the important evening at the Big House, click here.