Long-Time Cardiologist Dr. Myron Weisfeldt Who “Changed Face of Hopkins” Receiving American Heart Association’s Distinguished Watkins-Saunders Award for Commitment to Overcoming Disparities

Headshot Dr. Myron "Mike" Weisfeldt

Dr. Myron “Mike” Weisfeldt

Dr. Myron “Mike” Weisfeldt has been a leader in advancing diversity at Johns Hopkins since the early 1970s and is the 2021 recipient of the American Heart Association’s distinguished Watkins-Saunders Award.

“Mike changed the face of Hopkins,” said Dean/CEO Emeritus Johns Hopkins Medicine Dr. Edward D. Miller, a decades-long colleague.

“Mike was a strong supporter of women and helped them to be promoted. Mike recruited house staff and fellows from diverse backgrounds and helped them thrive at Hopkins. Because of Mike, Hopkins more closely resembles our diverse nation,” said Miller.

Dr. Elijah Saunders head shot

Dr. Elijah Saunders

The Watkins-Saunders Award is named for two cardiologists —
Dr. Levi Watkins and Dr. Elijah Saunders — who were in the vanguard of physicians fighting health disparities in Maryland. Dr. Weisfeldt will receive the award during the Heart of Maryland Digital Experience celebration on May 20, 2021 at 12 p.m. Colleagues and friends who wish to honor Dr. Weisfeldt as he accepts the award may contact American Heart Association (AHA) Heart Ball Director Amanda Gribbin for more information.

Dr. Levi Watkins headshot

Dr. Levi Watkins

“I am very honored to receive the Watkins-Saunders Award from the American Heart Association and my colleagues in the Maryland region of the AHA,” said Weisfeldt, 80, who serves as Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University and Medical Consultant, Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, and is a University Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine.

Weisfeldt said he is particularly gratified by the honor, given that the award is named for two esteemed colleagues.

“I had a very close and personal relationship to both Levi Watkins and Elijah Saunders essentially throughout my career and their lives,” he said. “Both made me aware of the tremendous need for changing our thinking — and more importantly our actions and commitment — to advance the Black biomedical community in this country, as well as the prevention and care of Black patients who are so at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.”

“Dr. Watkins and Dr. Saunders were both affectionate members of the American Heart Association and profoundly important national leaders, as well as absolutely pivotal people in advancing diversity at Maryland and Hopkins Medical Schools,” he added.

The Watkins-Saunders Award is presented annually by the American Heart Association — the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke — to recognize outstanding commitment to overcoming health and community disparities in Maryland.

AHA Greater Maryland Executive Director Tracy Brazelton said, “Dr. Weisfeldt has exemplified leading through an equity-first lens, while advancing science, medicine, and community health. We are so pleased to honor Dr. Weisfeldt with the Watkins-Saunders Award, as we continue to gratefully remember the countless contributions of two outstanding Maryland physicians who made our communities more equitable places to live, work and play.”

Weisfeldt served as the AHA’s National Board President from 1989-1990. He has received some of AHA’s most prestigious distinctions, including the 1992 Award of Merit, the 1998 Gold Heart Award and the 2004 Herrick Award on the Council of Clinical Cardiology.

One of Weisfeldt’s former trainees, Dr. Roger Scott Blumenthal, said that Dr. Weisfeldt focused on diversity and inclusion as he mentored and trained the next generation of clinicians and researchers throughout his career.

“Dr. Myron Weisfeldt has been a visionary leader for the American Heart Association as well as Johns Hopkins and Columbia Universities through his pioneering work in cardiac resuscitation, successful cardiovascular aging, cardiac imaging, as well as training and mentorship of many hundreds of students, residents and post-doctoral fellows. However, what he is likely most proud of has been his work as a champion of health equity and diversity in Medicine,” said Blumenthal, who is Director of the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and the Kenneth Jay Professor of Cardiology.

Blumenthal said key themes of Dr. Weisfeldt’s work have advanced science and practice around resuscitation, CPR, and advanced life support; cardiovascular aging; imaging and ischemic heart disease; and discovery around technology transfer.

The AHA works in Baltimore and surrounding communities to help improve health outcomes for all people. That includes work impacting health equity and social determinants that can impact health outcomes. We are committed to serving as a catalyst, convener and collaborator toward fighting structural racism within the realm of cardiovascular science, medicine and health care.