Award Recognizes Decades of Leadership by Arthur Moss
Arthur Moss, M.D., professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has won the Golden Lionel Award, which is awarded every two years at the International Workshop on Cardiac Arrhythmias, which began today in Venice. The conference organizing committee grants the award to recognize "eminent authority in the field of arrhythmology.”
Moss attended Yale as an undergraduate then Harvard Medical School. He interned at Massachusetts General Hospital and finished his residency in Rochester, where he also did a fellowship in cardiology. Since his first publication in 1960, he has published over 500 scientific papers, books, chapters, and editorials. Many of the publications focused on cardiac arrhythmias, electrical malfunctions that can throw the heartbeat out of rhythm, and stop it in the worst cases.
Arrhythmias cause many sudden cardiac deaths each year in the United States. Most fatal arrhythmias occur in aging patients when scar tissue left by a heart attack interferes with the heart's electrical system. As many as 1,000 deaths each year, however, are caused by Long QT Syndrome (LQTS). LQTS occurs mostly in teens with otherwise healthy hearts. While rare, LQTS is yielding insights into the much more common post-heart attack arrhythmias.
The QT interval is part of the heart’s electrical signature as recorded by an electrocardiogram (ECG). It represents the time it takes for the heart’s lower chambers to “reset” electrically after each heartbeat. In LQTS patients, QT reset time is prolonged, which makes the heart more susceptible to fatal arrhythmias. As a result of work led by Moss over more than two decades, researchers have achieved an 80 percent reduction in life-threatening LQTS events via drug treatment (e.g. beta blockers) and device advances. In April of last year, Moss’ team won a four-year, $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue its study of Long QT syndrome into its 24th year.
In addition, Moss has spearheaded the research that led to the use of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), which shock the heart back into proper rhythm when they sense an arrhythmia. ICDs have been used more widely since studies found that the devices could reduce sudden death in heart attack survivors. Led by Moss, the 2002 MADIT II study (Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial II) in particular changed medical guidelines nationwide and made a hundred thousand heart attack survivors eligible for ICD therapy.
Last month, Moss and colleagues published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that found patients who had new technology, a cardiac resynchronization device, implanted along with a defibrillator had a 34 percent reduction in their risk of death or heart failure when compared to patients receiving only an ICD. The overall benefit observed from resynchronization therapy was driven by a 41 percent reduction in heart failure (MADIT-CRT trial). Going into the study, previous work had shown that ICDs were so effective at preventing sudden death that patients lived longer and were subsequently at increased risk for heart failure. This created an urgent need to better address both risks in tandem, and the addition of a resynchronization device fit the bill.
“I am greatly honored to receive this award from colleagues who gather at this prestigious workshop every two years,” Moss said. “It has been tremendously exciting to see this line of work progress from its early stages to the point where new therapies are being realized.”