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ABC Celebrates the Life of Ellis Marsalis, Jr.
1934 - 2020

Ellis Louis Marsalis, Jr., passed away on April 1, 2020 in our hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA). Mr. Marsalis was the jazz patriarch of The Marsalis Family (with his sons Wynton, Delfeayo, Jason and Branford), which was the first and only group awarded the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters Fellowship. He was internationally respected for the long list of contributions he made as an educator, musician and steward of our original American art form. In NOLA and worldwide, he was revered for his lyrical sounds, insights and mentorship to an entire generation of Crescent City musicians.

In past receptions and award dinners held in NOLA, the Association of Black Cardiologists was honored to have Mr. Marsalis entertain us - always without fanfare and at nominal cost because he believed in our mission to help people achieve good health, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sex or social class. ABC’s Founder, Richard Allen Williams, MD, would often ask me to let Ellis know he was coming into town and was bringing his horn. Ellis would smile and welcome Dick to the stage. The ABC will never forget his kindness and his quiet support of our important work.

In the Big Easy, funerals, especially for our leading musicians, are “Grand Affairs” with poetry, hymns, choirs singing and yes, a celebratory second line parade. In the post-funeral celebration, family members and the community march joyously in the street as our loved one goes home and flies away.

This year, in the midst of a terrible pandemic, we lost a jazz icon so unexpectedly to a disease that is so devastating to our community. To make matters worse, a government mandate prevents us from sending our beloved Ellis home like we want to and in which he so rightly deserved. May we all take a moment of reflection for the loss of this legend - which will surely be felt for a long time to come.

Keith C. Ferdinand,
New Orleans native

View the Lincoln Center’s tribute to Ellis Marsalis

ABC’s COVID-19 FAQ Watch Available Now


ABC Welcomes New Officers and Board Members
The ABC recently installed Michelle A. Albert, MD, MPH, FACC as its 18th President and Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH, FACC, as its Chair of the Board of Directors. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ABC inducted Drs. Albert and Ofili as well as new and returning officers to the board of directors during a virtual ceremony held on Saturday, March 28, 2020.

New officers and presidential appointees are Kevin Sneed, PharmD, CRPh (Secretary), Joseph Poku MD, FACC, FHRS (Treasurer), Michelle N. Johnson, MD, MPH (Nominating Chair) and Anthony Fletcher, MD, FACC, FSCAI (Bylaws Chair).

New Board of Directors are Norrisa Haynes, MD (Fellows Representative), Melissa S. Burroughs Peña, MD, MS, FACC, Sabra C. Lewsey, MD, MPH, Marlene Williams, MD, FACC and Gloria Wilson Shelton, Esquire.

Please view ABC's full Board of Directors here.

ABC Welcomes News Corporate Members
ABC welcomes our newest corporate members, Eidos Therapeutics, Esperion and MyoKardia, who join with the ABC in promoting the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, including stroke, in Blacks and other minorities and in achieving health equity for all through the elimination of disparities.

ABC Signs Letter Calling For More PPE on Front Lines of COVID-19
The ABC joins the American Heart Association (AHA) and 11 other cardiovascular, emergency medical and other health care society leaders joined together on March 30 to express concern “over the critical shortages of medical equipment, including ventilators, test kits and all types of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, face shields and gowns, to adequately address the COVID-19 public health crisis.”

“We are particularly concerned about the first responders, caregivers and patients in our most vulnerable communities and the tragic health disparities that could result. From first responders and EMTs, to doctors, nurses and all health care professionals, the dedication of these individuals to their patients and to our country demands an equal show of commitment by our federal government to their safety,” the letter states.

Ms.Diagnosed Debuts at Cinequest Film Festival
The docu-film, Ms.Diagnosed, executive produced by Emmy nominee (PBS’ A Woman’s Heart) and cardiologist Jennifer H. Mieres, MD, and others, received rave audience reviews at its world premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, CA last month. The ABC is one of the documentary’s supporters.

Ms.Diagnosed uncovers the nearly lethal misdiagnosis of three WomenHeart Champions - Kelsey Gumm, Katherine Leone and Brandie Taylor - and the delayed diagnosis in another woman - Niechelle - due to a lack of attention to the sex and gender aspects in the presentation and manifestation of cardiovascular disease. In the telling of these four intimate patient stories, the film is intended to make women and men aware that almost all the healthcare women receive is based solely on research performed on men and to advocate for a change in the healthcare system. Sharonne N. Hayes, MD, is a featured expert in the film.

In addition to Dr. Mieres, the film was executive produced by Dr. Stacey E. Rosen and Lori M. Russo. The film will also premiere at the Women’s Film Festival (Sept 18 - 20) in Brattleboro, Vermont. Ms. Diagnosed is expected to be available for a wide audience in the fall of 2020.

ABC Joins CDC's National Hypertension Control Roundtable as a Founding Member
The ABC is joining the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Hypertension Control Roundtable (NHCR)® along with other founding members in a public, private and non-profit collaboration committed to improving national hypertension control rates from ~50% to 80% and reducing disparities in hypertension control by 2025. Established in 2020, the NHCR is comprised of more than 50 national entities acting in concert to achieve this goal.

The Interim co-chairs of the NHCR are Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, FAAFP representing the American Heart Association and John Clymer representing the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. The interim co-chairs will be supported by an interim leadership board which includes Modele Ogunniyi, MD, MPH, FACC, FACP, FAHA, as a member of ABC’s Preventive Cardiology Commitee, along with individuals from eight other founding member organizations.

The ABC looks forward to working with the NHCR’s interim leadership and fellow founding members to spotlight the challenge of hypertension control. The NHCR anticipates sponsoring its first national meeting in the Fall of 2020.

Million Hearts Shines Spotlight on ABC Programs
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 out of 2 adults in the United States has hypertension and only about 1 in 4 of those have their condition under control (below 130/80 mm Hg). The ABC is partnering with the CDC’s Million Hearts® Initiative to change that.

During a Million Hearts Partner Call on February 25, Modele Ogunniyi, MD, MPH, provided an overview of ABC’s work on advancing health equity by highlighting some of the programs initiated by ABC to address healthcare disparities that affect African-Americans and other underrepresented populations. Her presentation focused on three specific programs: the ABC Access to Care Initiative, Spirit of the Heart Community Programs, and Community Health Advocate Training program. She also discussed some of ABC’s educational resources including the recent award-winning plant-based cookbook and the 7 Steps to a Healthy Heart workbook.

Dr. Ogunniyi and Keith Ferdinand, MD, both serve as ABC representatives for the CDC’s Million Hearts Initiative. The ABC has been a long term partner of the Initiative, since its launch in 2012. This is the second of two programs that the ABC is pleased to be a partner with the CDC.

ABC Celebrates 4th Annual Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day in Harlem
Icilma Fergus, MD, speaking about disparities in the treatment of Heart Valve Disease in Harlem. (L to R): Cassandra McCullough, ABC CEO, Sharon Bond, ABC Heart Ambassador and Survivor, and Patricia Ricketts, Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce VP of Programs, at the Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day event in Harlem.
ABC participated in the official Heart Valve Disease (HVD) Awareness Day activities with a Black History and Heart Month educational health event hosted by the Alliance for Aging Research and The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce (GHCC). There was a full house at the fourth annual flagship program on February 22 in Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building.

ABC Past President Dr. Icilma Fergus spoke at the community program to shed light on HVD and inform the audience about the treatment disparities for minorities and women. She was also a part of a panel of doctors who answered the audience's questions. ABC CEO Cassandra McCullough and ABC Heart Ambassador and Survivor Sharon M. Bond attended the event as well. WBLS radio personality Dr. Bob Lee served as the master of ceremonies.

Alliance for Aging Research CEO Susan Peschin explained the significance of the day and why it was important, while WebMD Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Whyte highlighted the lack of information about HVD that the average person had and the importance of identifying credible medical information on the web.

The venue also included GHCC partner organizations who provided free health screenings and interactive exercise demonstrations. The program was supported in part by Edwards Lifesciences Foundation’s Every Heartbeat Matters and was streamed live on Facebook. Watch Dr. Fergus’ presentation on ABC’s Facebook page. Archived video can be found on the Heart Valve Disease Day Facebook page.

Dr. Keith Ferdinand Delivers Joint ABC-CMHC Webinar on Disparities
ABC Access to Care Initiative Chair and Cardiometabolic Health Congress Senior Planning Committee member Keith C. Ferdinand, MD, moderated a webinar on cardiometabolic health in the African American population last month. During the session, he addressed the impact of the environment on cardiovascular disease and identified successful strategies to overcome the disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. “Access to care of course is the low-hanging fruit to reduce healthcare disparities and we need to do more to address this opportunity to decrease them.” This was the final point of the online session, “Challenge of Cardiovascular Risk Reduction in Racial and Ethnic Minorities,” which delivered several clinical pearls and highlights for its 60 participants. Here are a few from the 40-minute virtual seminar. To learn more, watch the archived video.
  • The current mortality gap between blacks and whites is persistent since the 1960s and mostly driven by the higher risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and chronic kidney disease.
  • Genetics, environmental factors, as well as social determinants of health are attributed to the increased cardio-metabolic risk in the African-American population.
  • Issues of socio-economic status and decreased access to health care, as well as a lack of medication compliance, greatly contribute to healthcare disparities observed in the African-American community.
  • Cardiometabolic and cardiovascular disparities can be overcome and cardio-metabolic risk controlled, if social determinants of health are addressed and patients are empowered with knowledge and information about resources available to them.

Keith C. Ferdinand, MD, ABC Access to Care Initiative Chair, John M. Fontaine, MD, ABC Immediate Past President, Lisa Merritt, MHI Executive Director, Casmere L. Thomas BSN, RN, CNN, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Vice President, Lambda Omicron Omega Chapter, and Randall C. Morgan, Jr., MD, MBA, NMA Past President at the ABC-MHI Value-Based Care screening event.

ABC Returns to Sarasota for Value-Based Care Heart Screening Event

The ABC, Multicultural Health Institute, the Lambda Omicron Omega Chapter of Alpha Kapha Alpha Sorority, Florida State University College of Nursing and Newtown Farmer’s Market held a day long, Value-Based Care community heart health event in Sarasota, Florida. This free event was held at MHI’s office in the Selby Goodwill building in Newtown - an African American community within Sarasota. This was the second time ABC had partnered with MHI (2016 SOH) for a heart health event.

Nursing students from FSU provide attendee with guidance on screening results and community resources at the Nurse Advisor Table.

Participants completed a screening form at the welcome table and then were guided through six different stations set up throughout the building. Testing included an echocardiogram - results were explained and any questions answered by ABC President Dr. John Fontaine. Other stations offered screening for weight/BMI, an EKG and blood pressure. Nursing students from FSU, who occupied the fifth station, the Nurse Advisor Table, provided guidance on linkage to care, health information and community resources.

John Fontaine, MD, ABC's Immediate Past President, encourages participants with heart healthy tips at a local AKA health fair in Sarasota. The Lambda Omicron Omega Chapter of Alpha Kapha Alpha Sorority enjoyed a Zumba session during their health fair in Sarasota, where Dr. Fontaine briefly spoke.

The final station served as a checkout table where volunteers made sure each participant - 31 in total - had received each of the screenings, appropriate health information, linkage to care and a gift bag with community resource information, a Newtown Farmer’s Market coupon and a Valentine’s Day treat.

Dr. Fontaine also spoke at a Pink Goes Red event hosted by a local chapter of AKA.

Masters of Medicine Public Panel Discussion - Financing and Regulating Health Care: Who pays for What?
(L-R): Patrick Jason Toppin - Director Critical Care and Anesthesia HIC Heart Hospital, Consultant Anesthetist UHWI; Miguel Walker-AVP Proven Wealth Management. William Mahfood, Chairman and CEO, Wysinco Group, Ltd; Diane Edwards, President, JAMPRO Trade and Investment Jamaica; Mark Anderson, Director, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins: Ernest Madu Chairman, CEO and Founder Heart Institute of the Caribbean and HIC Heart Hospital.

2nd Annual Masters of Medicine Conference in Jamaica Focuses on Access to Care
The Heart Institute of the Caribbean (HIC) and the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) joined forces again to host the 2nd Annual International Masters of Medicine Conference in Kingston, Jamaica. With the theme of “Medicine and Society,” faculty speakers and panelists tackled the question: “Can under-resourced populations receive care that is relevant and sensitive while still maintaining the highest international standards of evidence-based medicine?”

ABC Past President and Masters of Medicine Co-Chair Barbara Hutchinson, MD, on Day 2 of the Masters of Medicine conference. ABC Board Chair Elizabeth Ofili, MD, making a presentation on “Heart Failure in Women” on Day 2 of the Masters of Medicine conference.

ABC Past President Barbara Hutchinson, MD, Past Chair Felix Sogade, MD, and Ernest Madu, MD, served as program chairs. Dr. Madu welcomed attendees and later moderated the joint HIC - UPenn case presentations during the International Collaborations segment. Dr. Hutchinson was moderator for “Topical Issues of Clinical Cardiology” and answered questions for a panel on “The Future of Medicine: Demographics, Economics and Technology“ along with Dr. Madu, Mark Anderson, MD, Anthony Clayton, MD, and Professor Sir Hilary Beckles. For the session, “Surviving Sudden Death in Jamaica,” Dr. Sogade explored three case presentations related to arrhythmia along with Dr. Kory Jaggon, and later delivered a lecture on current concepts around sudden cardiac arrest. ABC Board Chair-Elect Elizabeth Ofili, MD, gave an overview on “Heart Failure in Women” and later was a member of a panel for the Heart Disease in Women discussion along with Drs. Gustavo Knop, Howard Spenser and Victor A. Ferrari.

Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation Trailblazer Award held Jan.18th at Bob Marley Museum where patrons enjoyed legendary Reggae Music Icon Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. ABC Past Chair and Masters of Medicine Co-Chair Felix Sogade, MD (2nd to left), with Mark Anderson, Director, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins (center) and Ernest Madu Chairman, CEO and Founder Heart Institute of the Caribbean and HIC Heart Hospital (2nd to right) with other conference guests.

Other experts from leading institutions around the globe gathered to highlight the most current evidence-based, clinical practice guidelines and share insight into cutting edge research and techniques. The faculty also explored how environments, traditions and culture influence and are in turn impacted by healthcare. You can view sessions from each day on the HIC Facebook page. Key topics covered included:
  • What should we do and how should we do it
  • How patient input and popular culture affects Physician performance
  • The pitfalls and promise of “we’ve always done it that way.”
  • Making advances safe, affordable and accessible
The 2-day conference also included interactive public town hall sessions, which covered advances in medicine as well as the impact it could have on how a patient’s health is managed.

Keynote speakers for the conference were Mark Anderson, MD, PhD, Chair of Medicine at Johns Hopkins and Osler Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University; and Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Committee, who provided historical and cultural context for how disease presents in Jamaica.

(L-R) Ernest Madu, Chairman, CEO and Founder Heart Institute of the Caribbean and HIC Heart Hospital; HIC Trailblazer Awardee Professor Honorable John Hall; and Dainia Baugh, President, Heart Institute of the Caribbean and HIC Heart Hospital. (L-R) Ernest Madu, Chairman, CEO and Founder Heart Institute of the Caribbean and HIC Heart Hospital presenting Marcia Griffiths, 2020 recipient of the HIC Trailblazer Award for her outstanding contribution to the Public Sector through Music.


ABC and Pattern Beauty Encourage Black Women to Stay Fit on Instagram
ABC worked with Pattern Beauty, Tracee Ellis Ross’ Hair Care Line, on a Black History Month and Valentine's Day #FitOnTheGo campaign for Instagram. Since studies show, hair care serves as a barrier to working out for some African-American women, Karol Watson, MD, PhD, Co-Chair for ABC's Preventive Cardiology Committee, consulted with the company on cardiovascular disease statistics to help the campaign provide awareness about heart disease, offer tips on how to improve heart health, while also motivating Black women to stay fit using the brand’s On-the-Go Kit for “curlies, coilies & tight textures.”

ABC Joined the Conversation in Four Twitter Chats
Did you miss the Twitter Chats ABC participated in during the month of February and March? CLICK one of the images below to check out some of the highlights in the following Twitter threads. Special thanks to Seun Alli, MD, Dawn Scantlebury, MD, Renee Bullock-Palmer and Foluso Fakorede, MD, for representing the ABC on these chats. These are great online member-based educational tools to share with patients, family, and friends, who would benefit from learning more about cardiovascular disease and heart health.

2020 #CardiacRehabChat Highlights
Driving Engagement in Cardiac Rehabilitation

Million Hearts® and American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) co-hosted a #CardiacRehabChat about improving participant engagement and adherence.

2020 #ValveDiseaseDay Twitter Chat Highlights

The Alliance for Aging Research hosted the #ValveDiseaseDay Twitter Chat on heart valve disease risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment as well as important resources for patients and health care providers.

2020 #LoveYourHeartChat Highlights

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hosted a #LoveYourHeartChat with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) to observe Black History Month and American Heart Month. The chat focused on how to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle in order to overcome cardiovascular health disparities in the African American community.

2020 #CADPADChat Highlights

The Alliance for Aging Research and WomenHeart co-hosted a #CADPADChat to discuss the risk factors, symptoms, prevalence, incidence, impact on women and minorities as well as the serious consequences and treatment options for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

Remembering Some ABC Pioneers

Duke School of Medicine Unveils Portrait of Dr. Brenda Armstrong

Duke University School of Medicine unveiled a portrait of Dr. Brenda Armstrong, who was among the first African-American undergraduates at Duke University and who went on to help be one of the most influential contributors in expanding the diversity of the American physician workforce. The portrait is expected to reside in the Trent-Semans Center for Health Education. Dr. Armstrong died in 2018.

‘Lift As You Rise’: Honouring Bongani Mayosi

On the anniversary of his birthday, UCT colleagues, family and friends honored the late Professor Bongani Mayosi with a two-part celebration of Mayosi’s life and legacy, titled “Lift as you rise.” It would have been Mayosi’s 53rd birthday and marked two years since his death. The legacy event included the unveiling of a bibliography of Mayosi’s works, an inaugural lecture and the renaming (and future renovations) of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Health Sciences Library, which will now be known as the Bongani Mayosi Health Sciences Library. Special edition, leather-bound copies of the bibliography were handed to members of the Mayosi family and other distinguished guests. There is also an online version of the bibliography, which is free to all online users. This is in line with the late professor’s support of open access and his mantra, “Make your research beyond yourself."


Watch TCTMD's recent Periscope webcast on applying the lessons learned from China.


Watch the archived video of the American Medical Association’s recent live stream discussion on YouTube regarding the Coronavirus and the experience of physicians of color.


The Cardiovascular Digital Health Journal will be published every other month beginning in July 2020.

Million Hearts® announces a NEW Hospitals & Health Systems Recognition Program that will spotlight clinical entities committed to reducing the impact of heart attacks and strokes. Learn how you can apply below.


Job Opening | Assistant/Associate Professor of Cardiology

The Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology at the Morehouse School of Medicine is seeking a BC/BE interventional cardiologist at the assistant or associate professor level.

This position includes practice in a facility with state of the art invasive/interventional and noninvasive laboratories, the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center and cardiology fellowship training program. Qualified applicants should possess outstanding clinical and interpersonal skills with commitment to teaching and research. Additional skills in echocardiography, nuclear and peripheral imaging is desirable.

Interested applicants should email or send CV to:

Anekwe Onwuanyi, MD, FACC, FHFSA
Chief, Division of Cardiology
720 Westview Drive, S.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30310
Phone: (404) 616-8804


The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's PRIDE Summer Institute is now accepting applications! There are nine mentored research training programs offering career advancing opportunities for junior-level faculty and research scientists from diverse backgrounds. Rolling admission until all positions are filled.



Student National Medical Association AMEC 2020 Update

The leadership of Student National Medical Association (SNMA) has decided to forgo its on-site 2020 Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC) in Cleveland, OH and is considering alternative options that will be determined and communicated in the coming weeks. SNMA made this decision considering the increased concerns and recent occurrences related to the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 as well as the restricted travel impacting several organizations attending this year’s AMEC.


2020 Heart Rhythm Society Scientific Sessions Update

Due to the continued global escalation of COVID-19 and our careful evaluation of evolving government advisories, available alternatives and most importantly the health and well-being of our attendees, the Heart Rhythm Society Board of Trustees regrets to announce the 2020 Heart Rhythm Scientific Sessions (#HRS2020) scheduled for May 6-9, 2020, in San Diego, CA is cancelled.

HRS has been informed that members and the EP community at large have been contacted by email or phone by individuals (e.g., claiming to be selling a mailing list of HRS members or to assist with refunds due to the recent 2020 Heart Rhythm Scientific Sessions cancellation.

Please note: HRS does not sell, rent, or trade data. If you are solicited to purchase HRS member, attendee, or subscriber lists, please block the caller/sender and report the email as “Junk/Spam” to your email provider.


Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) 2020 Scientific Sessions Update

The SCAI 2020 Scientific Sessions which were scheduled to take place in Atlanta, Georgia from May 13–16 have been canceled. We will provide virtual content in various formats that you can access online via an on-demand platform or via live broadcast. These plans are currently in development.

American Diabetes Association (ADA) 79th Scientific Sessions Update

The ADA continues to monitor current Federal guidance as well as public health guidance in the state of Illinois. At this time, the 80th Scientific Sessions, is scheduled to take place June 12-16, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois at the McCormick Place Convention Center as planned.


European Society of Cardiology Congress (ESC) Update

The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus and the resulting travel restrictions imposed on many physicians have required the cancellation of EHRA 2020 (29-31 March, Vienna) and ESC Preventive Cardiology 2020 (2-4 April, Malaga). The ESC is reviewing all other upcoming congresses and events on a case-by-case basis. Any changes will be announced here. Our heartfelt best wishes go out to you and your patients.



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