Jeffrey M. Isner, MD
“Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”
— —Senator Robert F. Kennedy
On October 31, 2001, the world of cardiovascular medicine lost one of its guiding lights, and Circulation Research lost a valued member of its Editorial Board. One cannot speak about the career of Jeffrey Michael Isner without encountering a remarkable list of firsts. Most recently Jeff was focused on the concept of gene therapy for therapeutic angiogenesis, and on December 7, 1994, Jeff was the first person in the world to perform human arterial gene transfer for cardiovascular disease. Jeff’s imposing CV lists more than 400 published manuscripts, an NIH merit award, and a recent program project grant award, the outstanding faculty achievement award from Tufts University, the W. Proctor Harvey distinguished alumnus award from Georgetown University and the William Beaumont award, given annually by the American Medical Association to the single most influential clinical scientist under the age of 50.⇓
These accolades are impressive, but were not the way that Jeff measured his success. Instead, Jeff exulted in the success of others, the scores of postdoctoral fellows who came from around the world to work with him. Jeff was modest and magnanimous, always sharing credit for his many accomplishments with others. Jeff understood that no matter how much intellect, energy, and drive an individual possesses, if he is by himself he can accomplish very little. But if he can surround himself, as Jeff Isner did, with talented, dedicated researchers from all over the world, focused on the same goals, he can achieve a great deal. Jeff was extremely committed to young physicians and scientists, not only of the United States but of the world. The relationships Jeff had with his trainees were deep, rich, and lasting.
Jeff Isner need not be enlarged in death beyond what he was in life to be remembered as a physician-scientist who set out to change the lives of patients for the better, and did it. He was possessed of the courage, perception, and personal devotion to the ideals of Medicine and Science that allowed him to try new ideas where others were fearful, to blaze a trail, rather than follow a worn path. Jeff truly changed the world of cardiology. Few of us possess the greatness to transform medical history. But many of us will chart a course that was illuminated by Jeff, and in the total of all those journeys will be written the evolving history of Jeff Isner’s legacy.
The opinions expressed in this editorial are not necessarily those of the editors or of the American Heart Association.