More than 80 leaders from the University of South Florida, Tampa General Hospital and Tampa Bay business community gathered to celebrate the appointment of Samuel A. Wickline MD as the first TGH Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine.
The event also served to recognize Wickline’s appointment as the founding director of the USF Health Heart Institute, a key component of the new USF expansion of the Morsani College of Medicine into downtown Tampa.
“This event marks an important milestone in the evolution of the USF Health Heart Institute,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine. “It is truly great to see our transformative vision for the future of heart health become a reality.”
“Together, with Tampa General, we are creating a world-class cardiovascular medicine and research program that will help bring new therapies to the marketplace to fight the number-1 killer of Americans,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “This effort includes recruiting critical cardiovascular scientists—such as Dr. Wickline—who are at the forefront of interdisciplinary biomedical research.”
“If ever there was a signature decision for this community, it was the decision to relocate the USF medical school and Heart Institute into the urban core creating a medical/educational cluster that will drive this economy and this city forward for decades to come,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “The impact of that decision will be generational for both USF and the City of Tampa.”
“The more of these faculty chairs we are able to attract, the more we will be able to build this world-class academic medical center,” said John Brabson, chair of the Tampa General Hospital board of directors. “There’s nothing more important than the growing relationship, the strengthening ties, and the bond of trust that’s being developed between Tampa General and USF. If we’ve built all of this while we’ve been a 30-40 minute drive away, imagine what we’ll be able to do when the medical school relocates downtown and we’ll be just a boat ride apart.”
Dr. Wickline outlined his vision for the Heart Institute, listing a number of research opportunities for ending cardiovascular diseases: growing new heart tissue and blood vessels to fight heart failure and atherosclerosis, nanomedicine to provide safer blood clotting therapies, biomedical engineering to open up blood vessels without metal stents, and bioinformatics to predict disease and improve treatment options for patients.
“We want to make a difference in patients’ lives really soon by putting basic science to work,” said Dr. Wickline. “With the energy in Tampa, we’re interested in entrepreneurship that pushes ideas from the bench to the patient’s bedside.”