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Yeh Joins M. D. Anderson to Chair New Department of Cardiology

Yeh Joins M. D. Anderson to Chair New Department of Cardiology
M. D. Anderson News Release 10/27/00

Dr. Edward T. H. Yeh has been named chairman of the new Department of Cardiology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Formerly a section of the Department of Internal Medical Specialties, the new department will significantly expand the scope of cardiology services offered at M. D. Anderson. Dr. Yeh, who comes from the neighboring University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center (UT-HSC), fills a vacancy left when Dr. Harry Gibbs, former chair of the Section of Cardiology, was named vice president for institutional diversity.

While cancerous tumors in the heart are fairly rare and make up a small fraction of the cardiology department's patient load, a large number of cancer patients who come to M. D. Anderson need cardiology expertise. They may have co-existing heart problems that must be treated before they can embark on rigorous courses of radiation therapy or chemotherapy, invasive surgery or bone marrow transplantation. Cancer patients also may experience heart problems after certain procedures, such as an operation to remove a lung or treatments involving certain drugs. Dr. Yeh said his department will not only care for those patients, but also conduct clinical research to determine which patients are most susceptible to such complications and develop protocols to minimize such risks for future patients.

Dr. Yeh plans to open a new one-stop cardiology care center during the next year. The center will provide comprehensive diagnostic tests and cardiac management for M. D. Anderson patients. "Before beginning any aggressive cancer therapy, we need to make sure the patient's heart can tolerate it," Dr. Yeh said.

With M. D. Anderson's large increase in patient volume over the past five years, there has been growing demand for the services of the three full-time and two part-time cardiologists currently on staff. Dr. Yeh said he plans to recruit three more cardiologists during the next year to meet that increased demand and provide the high quality of service expected at the nation's number one cancer hospital, as ranked in U.S. News and World Report (July 2000).

Dr. Yeh maintains clinical privileges with the Texas Heart Institute and Memorial-Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center where M. D. Anderson is located. Such privileges are critical for M. D. Anderson cardiologists so that they can take advantage of equipment and capabilities that are not traditionally available in a cancer center.

In addition to his full-time primary appointment at M. D. Anderson, Dr. Yeh will retain his positions at UT-HSC as vice chairman of the Department of Medicine and director of the Division of Molecular Medicine. He also will continue as director of the UT-HSC Cardiovascular Research Center and maintain a laboratory there for his research work until 2003. At that time he is scheduled to move part of the laboratory to M. D. Anderson's planned Basic Sciences Research Building.

The Taiwan-born Dr. Yeh said his new position gives him a rare opportunity to combine his talent for patient care with his passion for research. "My research has a lot to do with cancer, and I think there's a lot of need for cardiology services at M. D. Anderson," Dr. Yeh said. "I'm a molecular biologist by training and a clinical cardiologist. This is a wonderful way to bring these interests together."

After earning his bachelor's degree in biochemistry with honors from the University of California-Berkeley and his doctorate from the University of California-Davis, Dr. Yeh trained as an immunologist under Nobel laureate Dr. Baruj Benacerraf at Harvard Medical School, Boston. He completed a subsequent clinical fellowship in rheumatology at Massachusetts General Hospital before moving to Houston in 1992 for a clinical fellowship in cardiology under Dr. James Willerson at UT-HSC. Among his many honors, Dr. Yeh was elected to membership in the prestigious Association of American Physicians earlier this year.

Dr. Yeh's laboratory has pioneered the discovery of three novel biochemical pathways that revolutionized the understanding of the pathogenesis of leukemias and solid tumors. His laboratory is also at the forefront in explaining the role of inflammation in the development of atherosclerosis.

Current work in the lab includes projects funded by more than $3 million in National Institutes of Health grants. With his move to M. D. Anderson, Dr. Yeh said opportunities to collaborate between the sister institutions should increase.


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