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USC cardiologist honored for lifetime achievement

Shahbudin Rahimtoola has been called “the world’s cardiologist."

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) has given its 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award to Shahbudin Rahimtoola, a USC Distinguished Professor and George C. Griffith Professor of Cardiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Rahimtoola is only the fifth person to receive the award — the highest honor bestowed by the ACC.

The award, which was given at the group’s annual meeting in March, is presented to those who have career-spanning achievements in the field of cardiovascular disease and have served as role models through service, research and teaching.

“It acknowledges one’s efforts over 40 or 50 years,” Rahimtoola said. “I value it highly.”

Rahimtoola earned his medical degree in 1954. He came to the United States in 1963 to co-direct the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory of the Mayo Clinic. He was on the medical faculty of the University of Illinois and the University of Oregon before joining USC in 1980.

Among his many accomplishments, Rahimtoola considers his discovery of the hibernating myocardium among his most important. He was also the first person to describe the problems of prosthetic valve patient mismatch.

Though he’s given 1,750 lectures around the world, edited 11 textbooks and published 593 scientific articles, Rahimtoola — who has been called “the world’s cardiologist” — is humble when describing himself.

“I think of myself as a hands-on cardiologist and a doctor who, in addition, does a lot of teaching,” he said.

His colleagues said the award is well deserved.

“Dr. Rahimtoola has been recognized throughout his career as a particularly astute and insightful contributor in his fields of interest,” said Edward Crandall, chairman of the school’s Department of Medicine. “He is widely known and appreciated as a teacher and mentor, and has been an important part of the USC division of cardiovascular medicine for many years.”

His sentiment was shared by colleague John Nicoloff, professor of medicine.

“How pleased we are his lifetime of accomplishments have been recognized by his peers,” Nicoloff said. This is truly an honor for his multiple contributions to the health of patients with heart disease.”

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