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Pioneering interventional cardiologist takes on a new challenge

Robert Wilson, M.D.

University of Minnesota cardiologist Robert Wilson, M.D., has packed a lifetime of achievements into 24 years.

Since his 1986 arrival at the University, Wilson established the University's interventional cardiology program, helped to create an interventional cardiology fellowship program, and invented medical devices that have led to 22 patents.

In 1999, the FDA approved Wilson's semicomputerized injection system for coronary angiography, which is now used in nearly a third of heart catheterization procedures worldwide.

"Making stuff is what gets me up in the morning," he says.

Wilson's innovative work was recognized nationally in October when he received the American Heart Association's Heart Hero Physician Award.

To Wilson's colleague Robert Bache, M.D., the award came as little surprise.

"No other faculty member in the University's cardiovascular division is more respected than Bob Wilson," Bache says. "He is an outstanding educator, innovator, physician, and volunteer,"

One of Wilson's new charges has been facilitating the merger between the University and Minnesota Heart Clinic, which he says has improved patients' access to cardiovascular services outside of the Twin Cities and helped to integrate the University's innovative research findings into today's medical practice.

The merger brings together community and academic physicians to create one of the largest cardiology programs in the state.

"To be one of the top 10 cardiovascular programs in the country, you have to have innovation, you have to have a steady stream of patients, and you have to be able to have expert specialists to sustain the program," Wilson says. "This merger has helped us get exponentially closer to achieving those goals."

Meanwhile, Wilson is still inventing. His most recent innovation is a percutaneous aortic heart valve--meaning that it can be implanted through a catheter rather than by open-heart surgery. Human clinical trials for the device are currently under way.

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