James Thomas joins Northwestern Medicine’s Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute


Northwestern Medicine is pleased to welcome James D Thomas, the new director of the Center for Heart Valve Disease at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.

An expert in cardiovascular imaging with a unique background in space medicine, Thomas will begin seeing patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in August. He is also a professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.


“I am excited and eager to lead and grow a programme already renowned for world-class heart valve care,” Thomas says. “Combining leading-edge patient care and research, we will constantly be working and innovating toward the successful resolution of the most complex cases of heart valve disease.”


Thomas joins the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, where heart valve surgery and other complex heart operations have risen nearly 600% in the past 10 years, from the Cleveland Clinic. In Cleveland, he was the Charles and Lorriane Moore Chair in Cardiovascular Imaging, and, at Case Western Reserve University, a professor of medicine and biomedical engineering.


“With the addition of Thomas to our team, the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute now is the premier resource for treatment of the many complex iterations of heart valve disease,” says Patrick McCarthy, director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and the Heller-Sacks Professor of Surgery at Feinberg. “He is an outstanding physician: conservative when appropriate, but proactive for patients who need surgery or non-surgical interventions. He has an outstanding technical skill set in imaging, but more importantly, excellent judgment about the best approach for an individual patient that he can easily explain in layman’s terms.”


McCarthy and Thomas worked closely together for 12 years at the Cleveland Clinic.


Thomas’ clinical interests include valvular heart disease and diastolic dysfunction, an abnormal filling of the heart. The author of more than 500 peer reviewed publications, his research focuses on cardiac mechanics, application of new echo technology and space physiology.


He also serves as a lead scientist for ultrasound with NASA, researching the impact of space travel on the heart and the body’s cardiovascular functions.


“As we continue to grow our cardiovascular medicine programme, it is important to accentuate and nurture our inherent strengths,” says Clyde Yancy, chief of cardiology and associate director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “Jim will help us fulfil our quest to offer the best care, perform the best science and create the best educational tools in heart valve disease. With him on board, we will seek and attain a position of world class leadership in this area.”


Thomas received his bachelor’s and medical degrees from Harvard University, and completed his residency in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He attended the University of Vermont for a clinical fellowship in Cardiology before completing a research fellowship in echocardiography at Massachusetts General Hospital.


After his fellowships, Thomas became an instructor and later assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. He joined the Cleveland Clinic in 1992 as director of Cardiovascular Imaging and later as professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic Health Sciences Center of The Ohio State University School of Medicine.


Thomas is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American Society of Echocardiography, the American Heart Association, and the European Society of Cardiology.