The Wilf Family Cardiovascular Research Institute was established in October 2009 by a generous gift from Einstein Board member Zygmunt “Zygi” Wilf and his family. With the support provided by this philanthropy and the extramural research support garnered by its outstanding investigators, the Wilf Institute aims to further our understanding of cardiovascular disease ― the world’s number-one killer ― while building on Einstein’s long-standing foundation in cardiovascular research and clinical care.
Since early in the College of Medicine’s history, its researchers and physician-scientists have generated landmark advances in cardiovascular research. Among their groundbreaking medical contributions was the development of the first transvenous cardiac pacemaker in 1958, and the development of transtelephone pacemaker monitoring in the 1970s. Additionally, the late Edmund H. Sonnenblick, M.D., who served as chief of the division of cardiology from 1975 to 1996, launched modern cardiology when he recognized that the heart is a muscle and behaves like one; his research also helped lead the way to angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors—one of the main classes of antihypertensive drugs. Leslie A. Leinwand, Ph.D., a molecular biologist at Einstein who was a member of our cardiovascular disease research center, was a founder of the field of molecular cardiology, which is the cornerstone of basic cardiovascular research today.
The Wilf Institute supports the work of today’s physician-scientists at Einstein and its University Hospital Montefiore Medical Center, who seek to close the gap between cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular health. Toward this goal, these researchers are developing and evaluating innovative methods for improving treatment methods and devices to regulate cardiac arrhythmias, while also working to understand, prevent and treat heart attack, stroke, heart failure, hypertension, sudden cardiac death, congenital heart disease and many other conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels.
The Wilf Institute emphasizes interdisciplinary programs with approximately 40 experts representing Einstein’s 11 basic science departments, as well as specialists in medical fields including endocrinology and diabetes, surgery, radiology and nuclear medicine. Cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons will be able to collaborate with cell and molecular biologists, geneticists and other scientists to explore a broad spectrum of cardiac problems. They also will team with population scientists to understand issues such as how different populations are affected by various heart ailments.
The studies undertaken at the Wilf Institute will benefit the diverse Bronx patient population that seeks treatment for a wide array of ailments and conditions. In turn, these individuals can offer Einstein-Montefiore researchers a window into cardiovascular disease and stroke that could lead to future breakthroughs in the field.