Richard D. Weisel, MD, FRCSC, FAHA
Cardiovascular Surgeon, Toronto General Hospital; Senior Scientist, Toronto General Research Institute; Professor of Cardiac Surgery, University of Toronto
How long have you been an AHA/ASA Professional Member?
I have been a member of the AHA since 1978.
Why did you join?
I joined the AHA in order to attend Scientific Sessions and present our research on myocardial protection for heart surgery. I have attended nearly every meeting since 1978. In the last 20 years, our group has focused on stem cell research from the bench to the bedside and back.
Are you involved in AHA councils?
I have been a member of the Surgery Council — now called the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia — since I joined the AHA. My involvement has evolved over the years. First I was an attendee at the council meetings and dinner. Then I was asked to join the Council Program Committee.
I became the chairman of the Council Program Committee and finally I was selected to be the council chairman. Since that time, I have continued to serve on the leadership committee in various roles. In addition, I have been a member of the Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Council as my second council.
What do you enjoy most about these roles?
The AHA meetings provide opportunities to meet and interact with clinicians and basic scientists with similar research interests. Each year I learn more about what is really going on in my field than from reading the literature. The discussions with investigators from around the world provide unique insights that focus our research efforts.
How else are you involved with the AHA?
I have served on a variety of AHA national committees.
Why is membership valuable to you?
My involvement with the AHA has provided me an opportunity to know the leaders in my areas of research interest. I learned how to get grants funded and papers published through my participation in AHA review activities. Many of these associations continue to be important today for my activities as editor of The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and chair of the Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network.
What message would you like to convey to your colleagues about being an AHA member?
Participation can be extremely rewarding. Spend the time and learn what you can. The opportunities afforded by AHA membership are exceptional.