Sonnenblick, Distinguished University Professor and chief emeritus of the Division of Cardiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, died Sept. 22, 2007. Sonnenblick’s classic experiments helped define the human heart as a self-renewing organ and not merely a pump, said Daniel Jones, M.D., American Heart Association president.

He called Sonnenblick “one of the world’s foremost cardiologists and investigators, rightfully regarded as an icon in the history of cardiovascular medicine.” The late cardiologist’s discoveries “dramatically advanced understanding of cardiac muscle structure and function, thereby providing invaluable new weaponry for fighting heart disease,” Jones said.

Jones presented the award during the American Heart Association’s 2007 Scientific Sessions. Richard N. Kitsis, M.D., a colleague of Sonnenblick at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, accepted the award for him. “Dr. Sonnenblick’s enlightened conceptualizations of the heart’s cellular makeup and mechanics have been of enormous consequence,” Jones said.

Sonnenblick and his colleagues documented that the heart has a reservoir of “highly plastic” stem cells that control its dynamic equilibrium and ability to generate new cardiac and vascular cell growth. His early work established the physiological parameters of left ventricular performance, and his historic studies included the first use of such now-familiar terms as “ejection fraction.” Sonnenblick was a member of the Albert Einstein faculty since 1975.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Heart Association