Dr. James T. Willerson is president of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He is also the Alkek-Williams Distinguished Professor and holds the Edward Randall III Chair in Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the Dunn Chair in Cardiology Research at the Texas Heart Institute and the Robert J. Hall Chair of Cardiology at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston.
He serves as the medical director, chief of cardiology, director of cardiology research and co-director of the Cullen Cardiovascular Research Laboratories at the Texas Heart Institute and the chief of cardiology at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital.
Dr. Willerson received his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. Upon graduating as a member of Alpha Omega Alpha from Baylor College of Medicine, he completed his medical and cardiology training as an intern, resident,and research and clinical fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital and as a clinical associate at the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Willerson has served as visiting professor and invited lecturer at more than 200 institutions worldwide. He has received numerous national and international awards, including the James B. Herrick Award from the American Heart Association; American College of Cardiology's Distinguished Scientist; Distinguished Achievement Award from the Scientific Councils of the American Heart Association; and the American Heart Association's Distinguished Scientist Award. He has been elected a fellow in the Royal Society of Medicine of the United Kingdom and made an honorary member of the Society of Cardiology in Peru and in Spain, the Hellenic Society of Cardiology in Greece and the Society of Cardiology of Venezuela.
He is a member and past president of the Paul Dudley White Cardiology Society at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Willerson was recently given the Medal of Merit for Distinguished Achievements in Cardiovascular Sciences by the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences.
He has served on many editorial boards for professional publications: The New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Circulation Research, Arteriosclerosis and Thrombosis, American Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, American Journal of Cardiology, American Heart Journal and Cardiovascular Medicine. From 1993-2004, he was editor of Circulation, the major publication of the American Heart Association. He has edited or co-edited 20 textbooks, including the 2nd edition of Cardiovascular Medicine. Additionally, he has had published more than 770 scientific articles.
He has been elected to membership in numerous professional societies, including the American Society of Clinical Investigation, Association of American Physicians, Association of Professors of Medicine and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus by the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas at Austin.
His research has concentrated on elucidating mechanisms responsible for the conversion from stable to unstable coronary heart disease syndromes, the prevention of unstable angina and acute myocardial infarction, the detection and treatment of unstable atherosclerotic plaques, and the discovery of the genes and abnormal proteins responsible for cardiovascular disease. More recently, he and his colleagues at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston and the Hospital Procardico in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have begun bone marrow-derived stem cell transplantation directly into the hearts of patients with severe heart failure, and they have demonstrated objective and subjective evidence of clinical improvement.
Upon moving to Houston in 1989, Dr. Willerson created the Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases, a clinical research effort devoted to the discovery of genes that cause the human diseases of our time. Dr. Willerson also founded TexGen Research, a collaboration which brings together the institutions in the Texas Medical Center to collect information about the genes that play a key role in causing the major diseases of our time.