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Mirowski Family Foundation Gives $1.5 Millon to Johns Hopkins Heart Institute - 11/01/2007

Mirowski Family Foundation Gives $1.5 Millon to Johns Hopkins Heart Institute

Release Date: November 1, 2007

The Johns Hopkins Heart Institute today announced a $1.5 million gift from the Mirowski Family Foundation for cardiovascular research. The Michel Mirowski, M.D. Discovery Fund, named in honor of Mirowski and his wife, Anna, will support researchers pursuing novel ideas not yet eligible for traditional sources of funding.

“Michel Mirowski knew how difficult it could be to be an innovator,” says Edward D. Miller, M.D., the Frances Watt Baker, M.D., and Lenox D. Baker Jr., M.D., dean of the medical faculty at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “This gift is a fitting tribute to his life and work and ensures that his legacy of ingenuity and determination will continue through today’s research pioneers.”

The Michel Mirowski, M.D., Discovery Fund will provide funding for innovative proposals from investigators at any level of seniority, working in any area of research in cardiovascular medicine.  Requests for application will begin in 2010, and the process is open to all members of the Hopkins School of Medicine community.

“Michel, with the support of his wife, Anna, helped shape the history of cardiovascular care around the world,” says Gordon Tomaselli, M.D., the Michel Mirowski, M.D., Professor of Medicine at Hopkins.

“This gift from their family is a perfect tribute to their commitment, both scientific and philanthropic, to improving outcomes for patients and ensuring that promising researchers will be given the support they need,” says Tomaselli, chief of cardiology at Hopkins and co-director of the Institute.

Mirowski conceived the idea of an implantable defibrillator, and he led the team that designed and tested the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), the first alternative to drugs and surgery for the treatment of life-threatening heart rhythm disturbances. 

Born in Warsaw, Poland, he was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust.  After World War II, Mirowski went to France and attended medical school in Lyon, where he met and married his wife, Anna.  He left France and completed his residency in Israel, at Tel Hashomer Hospital. This was followed by a cardiology fellowship at the Institute of Cardiology in Mexico City and a pediatric cardiology fellowship at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.  He returned to Israel in 1962 to become the chief of cardiology at Asaf Horofeh Hospital.

After the death of his mentor in 1966 from sudden cardiac death, Mirowski conceived of an implantable device that could save patients from ventricular arrhythmias. Unable to gain funding for his idea in Israel, he came to Baltimore to pursue his research.  In 1968, Mirowski became the first director of the coronary care unit at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, where he conducted his research and developed the initial ICD with Morton Mower, M.D.  They had to overcome tremendous skepticism and received no external support.  The first human implant was performed at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1980.  Mirowski died in 1990.  Today, millions of patients worldwide have benefited from the implantable defibrillator.

This gift brings total commitments to the Johns Hopkins Knowledge for the World campaign to more than $2.8 billion.  Priorities of the campaign, which benefits both The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, include strengthening the endowment for student aid and faculty support; advancing research, academic and clinical initiatives; and building and upgrading facilities on all campuses.  The campaign began in July 2000.

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