U alumnus named new cardiology director

The alumnus said working at the University could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

by Kelly Gulbrandson

A University graduate recently returned to the Medical School to assume a high-ranking position within the department.

Dr. Daniel J. Garry is the new director of the Lillehei Heart Institute and division director for cardiology in the department of medicine.

Dr. Robert Bache, the interim director of the cardiology division and professor of medicine, lured Garry to the University.

Garry said he saw the University as willing to explore emerging technology with stem-cell research unlike anywhere else in the country. He said working at the University could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Dr. Ann L. Taylor, professor of medicine in cardiology and associate dean for academic affairs, said Garry will add to the clinical strength of the program.

Taylor said while all the candidates were talented, Garry had the whole package and will enhance the visibility of heart failure research.

“His scientific strength in regenerative heart failure is an important field right now,” Taylor said.

She said Garry was a strong candidate for the job because of his clinical and educational background.

Garry earned his medical degree and Ph.D. in cell biology and neuroanatomy from the University in 1990.

He said he picked the two in order to complement the different fields of medicine and science, and also as a way to combine the discovery and delivery of science. He said mentors during his training encouraged him to look into emerging fields.

“My exposure to mentors as an undergraduate and throughout my life allowed me to pursue my interests in medicine and science,” Garry said.

A Minnesota native, Garry said he heard great things about the University, such as Dr. Lillehei performing heart transplants. Because Garry thought of it as the “greatest university in the world,” he chose to attend.

He studied cardiology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, N.Y., where he learned about heart function and molecular techniques in research. While at Cold Spring Harbor, he met R. Sanders Williams, the chief of cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Williams encouraged Garry to move there.

UT-Southwestern Medical Center focuses on molecular research and heart function. Garry said he enjoyed his time there because people worked across department lines to get things accomplished.

“We would work 15- to 16-hour days, but the work was stimulating and exciting,” he said.

Dr. Jonathan Ravdin, chairman of the department of medicine at the University Medical School, said he has tremendous confidence that Garry will make a big difference in the Medical School for years to come.

“He is a forefront scientist and cardiologist who is a science visionary,” Ravdin said.

The search for the new Division of Cardiology director and director of the Lillehei Heart Institute began more than one year ago, Ravdin said.

The University found an effective and thoughtful leader in Garry, he said. The University interviewed eight candidates from across the country for the position.

“We wouldn’t trade him for anything,” Ravdin said.

In his new position, Garry will lead the Lillehei Heart Institute with a goal of advancing cardiology research in the Medical School and attracting scientists, Ravdin said. He will bring scientists with him from Texas to help achieve this goal.

In the division of cardiology, Garry will lead cardiology training, faculty and the clinical program. He has three objectives to establish the cardiology program as the premier program in the country.

First, he will focus on instilling a “hunger for education” in faculty at the University.

Second, he will include the use of stem-cell therapies for cardiac regeneration.

Third, he will center on patient care.

Both Ravdin and Taylor said they are happy to have Garry as a new part of the University, especially since he is a native of the state.

“It’s great to bring back someone who cares about the ‘U’ and has loyalty here,” Ravdin said.