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Demetris Yannopoulos, M.D. (Photo: Richard Anderson)

Meet Demetris Yannopoulos, M.D., associate professor of medicine and research director of interventional cardiology

Though he’s still early in his medical career, Demetris Yannopoulos, M.D., isn’t waiting to make his mark on the field of cardiology. He is considered an authority in cardiorespiratory interactions and hypothermia during CPR, and his work has already helped to improve CPR practices—thereby saving lives of people who need it.

Yannopoulos is the recipient of five American Heart Association (AHA) Young Investigator awards and has received grant support from both the AHA and National Institutes of Health for his work in designing CPR devices that improve blood flow as well as outcomes for patients.

“Dr. Yannopoulos is an outstanding physician who is always looking to improve the quality of life of his patients,” says Daniel Garry, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the Lillehei Heart Institute at the University of Minnesota. “He epitomizes the clinician-scientist who continually looks to transform research and innovation to clinical medicine.”

Born in London, Yannopoulos received his M.D. from the University of Athens in Greece. He completed his medicine residency and general cardiology fellowship at the University of Minnesota. Following an interventional cardiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins University, Yannopoulos came back to the University as a faculty member in 2008.

Q. When did you first become interested in medicine?

A. I came from a family with a long tradition in medicine. My parents and grandparents were physicians, and it seems that this career came naturally, although I struggled a lot with the possibility of devoting my life to music.

Q. What drew you to cardiology?

A. Cardiology made more sense to me since it is the most evolved and mature, evidence-based, and research-oriented medical specialty. I felt that, by being a cardiologist, I could really make a difference in people’s lives.

Q. What is the key to effective patient-physician relationships?

A. Trust, communication, and mutual respect.

Q. What are your research interests?

A. I am very interested in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and am searching, with the help of a superb team, to identify ways to decrease reperfusion injury after prolonged cardiac arrest and improve outcomes by delivering the best quality of CPR and post-resuscitation cardiology care available.

Q. Who inspires you?

A. I am inspired by pioneers and giants in my field. I have the opportunity to work with some of the most influential scientists in the field of resuscitation. Those people—such as Keith Lurie, M.D., Henry Halperin, M.D., Tom Aufderheide, M.D., and others—not only provided the support for me to evolve in the field but also inspired me to better myself and never give up when science and data throw you a curveball. They taught me to persevere and never quit and led the way with their actions, which inspires me to do the same. It takes a lot of patience and dedication to be a clinician-scientist, and those people have shown me the way and inspired me greatly.

Last but not least, I am inspired daily by my family, my wife, Kim, and my two kids, Nikos and Eleanna. Their smiles and happiness provide extra motivation for me to carry on when things are difficult.

Q. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

A. I see myself doing exactly what I am doing today and trying to transfer the knowledge that we are generating in the animal laboratories to the clinical arena … helping patients have a second chance at a higher quality of life. I have to admit, though, that more frequent trips to my country, Greece, to enjoy the beauty of the sea, the people, and the food, would also be nice!

Q. What does the University of Minnesota cardiovascular program mean to the Twin Cities?

A. The University’s cardiovascular program has been in the forefront of medical advances for more than 50 years. Our program has provided innovation that fed the engine of multiple biomedical companies, improved the lives of millions around the world, and changed the way cardiology and surgery are practiced. For the last five years, a new spark has again set the wheels of innovation in motion. Many great things are happening under our new cardiovascular division chief, Daniel Garry, M.D., Ph.D. He has provided generous support to his new faculty, provided funding to stimulate research and growth, and worked hard to put the program on the international map. Our cardiovascular program is leading the way in many areas, such as stem cell research, device innovation, and resuscitation science.

Read more about Yannopoulos’s efforts to revolutionize care for people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest.

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