Professor emeritus discusses the problem of the ‘stone heart’
In a recent interview for Michigan Video Abstracts, Benedict Lucchesi, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus of pharmacology, sat down with Edward Domino, M.D., M.S., active emeritus professor of pharmacology. He shared the story of a time when, as a young medical student, he assisted in an open heart surgery. The patient’s heart had turned into a “rock,” and sadly passed away. Lucchesi left the operating room that day determined to find out why.
In his interview, Lucchesi told the story of experimentation with oxygen levels, and a discovery that too much oxygen and free radicals were causing the “stone heart” — or ischemic myocardial contracture. His discovery led to protocols that made open heart surgery a much safer option for patients.
Lucchesi is a pharmacology pioneer, and has made significant scientific discoveries in the areas of cardiac arrhythmia, coronary thrombosis and myocardial reperfusion injury. He was one of the first scientists to determine that propranolol, a beta blocker drug used to treat hypertension, could also be used to treat heart arrhythmia. This class of drugs continues to substantially reduce mortality from heart attacks, heart rhythm disturbances and heart failure. He codeveloped the first nitroglycerin patch to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. He has many more accolades to his name across his 50-year career, including induction into the University of Medical School’s League of Research Excellence in 2014.
- View Lucchesi’s profile on ResearchGate
- University of Michigan Regents Communication about Lucchesi’s retirement from the university
- Michigan Video Abstracts, a novel online forum for biomedical research, learning, and scholarship at Michigan Medicine