Moss Awarded Heart Rhythm Society’s Top Honor for Exceptional Contributions to Field

May. 9, 2011
Arthur J. Moss, M.D.

Arthur J. Moss, M.D., professor of Cardiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center and world-renowned expert on electrical disturbances of the heart, received the Heart Rhythm Society’s Distinguished Scientist Award Friday, May 6 at the society’s 32nd Annual Scientific Sessions in San Francisco. The award is given annually to an individual who has made major contributions to the understanding and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. 

Over a career spanning five decades, Moss has made some of the most important and long-lasting discoveries in the treatment and prevention of cardiac arrhythmias, irregular rhythms that are associated with increased hospitalizations and death; sudden cardiac death; heart failure; and Long QT syndrome, a rare, inherited disorder that makes the heart particularly susceptible to arrhythmias.

“Very few individuals have made such enormous advances in the field of electrophysiology as Dr. Moss. He has truly transformed the care of hundreds of thousands of individuals and added importantly to the scientific body of knowledge. I can think of no one that is more deserving of the Heart Rhythm Society Distinguished Scientist award,” said Paul J. Wang, M.D., head of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Stanford University who has worked with Moss in the past and will present his award at the meeting.

“This award came as a real surprise, and it is a very special one,” noted Moss. “The Heart Rhythm Society is the major international electrophysiology society and a very prestigious organization. I am very pleased to receive this honor.”

Among Moss’ more than 550 publications are studies from the MADIT (Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial) series of trials that demonstrated that preventive therapy with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD – a device that detects potentially fatal arrhythmias and shocks the heart back into a normal rhythm – significantly reduces the risk of death in heart attack survivors. The finding, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, changed medical guidelines nationwide and led to the use of ICDs in millions of patients each year.

More recently, in 2009, Moss completed the MADIT-CRT trial, which found that cardiac resynchronization therapy, which improves the mechanical pumping action of the heart, plus defibrillator – a combination device known as CRT-D therapy – prevents the progression of heart failure in patients living with mild forms of the disease. Originally approved to treat patients with severe heart failure, this study – also published in the New England Journal of Medicine – led the FDA last year to extend approval of the device to patients with mild heart failure to prevent progression to advanced disease. With FDA approval, nearly 4 million more Americans are now candidates for treatment with the CRT-D. 

Charles Lowenstein, M.D., chief of the Cardiology Division at the University of Rochester said, “Dr. Moss is a very, very special person. He is a pioneer of clinical trials of sudden death, and his MADIT trials have changed how cardiologists practice medicine. Guidelines from his trials have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.”

In addition to the MADIT studies, Moss is known for his key findings influencing the care of patients with Long QT syndrome (LQTS). In 1979, he helped launch the International LQTS Registry, a database of families with the LQTS trait and one of the first gene registries for any disease in the world. His creation of the registry and pioneering use of the data helped Moss become one of the first physicians to investigate in depth how genetics influence one form of heart disease – one of the most widespread diseases on earth.

In collaboration with other experts in the field, Moss also started the prospective international study of Long QT syndrome in 1985, which would provide many of the most important insights into the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of this syndrome.

“Dr. Moss' foresight in creating an international registry of patients with Long QT syndrome has resulted in some of the most critical data on how we treat these patients today,” said David Huang, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “This data has, in a very significant way, contributed to the explosion of translational research related to hereditary arrhythmia and molecular cardiology.”

Huang, who collaborates with Moss on many of his clinical trials, added “Dr. Moss' contribution to cardiac electrophysiology is vast and he is extremely well respected as a researcher, a scholar and a mentor to many current leaders in our specialty. I can't think of a better individual to receive this award.”