SCAI mourns past president Joseph D Babb

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The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) has announced the death of Joseph D Babb, who was president of SCAI from 2001 to 2002 and practised medicine at East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, North Carolina (USA), where he also served as a Clinical Professor in the Division of Cardiology.

A SCAI press release reports that Babb’s career in cardiology began after graduating John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore Maryland in 1966. He completed an internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

A veteran, Babb served in the US Army Medical Corps, serving in Vietnam and at Walter Reed Hospital, followed by an interventional cardiology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School (USA). He then served as an assistant professor of Medicine and Cardiology at The Pennsylvania State University Hershey Medical Center (USA) in 1972.

After a course with Andreas Gruentzig in Zurich, Switzerland, Babb conducted the first coronary angioplasty at Hershey in 1981. He also performed the first coronary angioplasty in the state of Connecticut upon embracing his role as Chief of Cardiology at The Bridgeport Hospital. Babb joined The East Carolina University School of Medicine in 1995 as professor of Medicine and Cardiology. He also served as the programme director for the Cardiovascular Diseases Fellowship and the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship, and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine.

Babb was a devoted member to SCAI for many decades, he headed the Society’s Continuing Medical Education Committee, spearheading its effort to earn accreditation status for the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and developing guidelines for SCAI educational programmes. He set the bar high, insisting that all SCAI-branded education must be unbiased, objective, clear, and useful to practicing physicians.

During his term as president, Babb oversaw an enormously successful effort to expand the membership of the Society internationally. He brought together representatives of all the international medical societies focused on interventional cardiology, launching a “cardiology roundtable” that addressed the common, overriding concerns that affect interventional cardiologists and their patients, regardless of where they practice.

Norm Linsky, SCAI’s executive director from 2001 to 2015, says: “Joe Babb was literally the best of the best. The best doctor and the best patient advocate I have ever known. He represented SCAI on the advocacy front for many years and truly understood the intricacies of healthcare policy. When he spoke, he commanded the respect of everyone in the room.  He knew that he was not advocating for doctors, rather for patient care, patients’ access to care, and a physician’s ability to do what is right for their patients.”

SCAI president for 2018–2019, David A Cox, says: “Joe was truly one of the most genuine and passionate interventionalists to ever serve as SCAI President. His dedication to SCAI as a leader in establishing our advocacy role at the state and federal level was matched by his continued commitment as an educator at multiple meetings while maintaining a busy clinical practice. He spearheaded our Ethics Committee at a time we needed to be sure interventionalists understood accountability and being sure we were doing the right procedure for our patients.”

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