Dr. Lee Eckhardt honored with 2017 Dr. Benjamin and Marian Schuster prize

Benjamin and Marian Schuster Prize - April 28, 2017

Above, left to right: Dr. Mohamed Hamdan, Ms. Marla Nissan (daughter of Dr. Benjamin and Marian Schuster), Dr. Lee Eckhardt, and Prof. Jonathan Eckhardt.

A prize recognizing outstanding research, teaching or clinical care achievements in cardiology and physiology at UW-Madison has been awarded to Lee Eckhardt, MD, MS, assistant professor, Cardiovascular Medicine.

The Dr. Benjamin and Marian Schuster Prize, established in 2006, recognizes “a deserving individual who has contributed significantly to the cardiovascular program.” As the 2017 awardee, Dr. Eckhardt receives $5,000 for research and/or continuing medical education.

Dr. Eckhardt’s research and clinical interests focus on the prevention of sudden cardiac death (SCD), which is caused by faulty functioning of ion channel complexes that control the timing and flow of ions into and out of cardiac cells (cardiomyocytes). Because ion channels elicit electrical impulses required for maintaining a steady heartbeat, inherited or acquired syndromes affecting cardiomyocyte ion channels can lead to SCD. Two specific syndromes that Dr. Eckhardt has studied are Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) and Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT). She has also focused on creating human induced pluripotent stem cells used as an experimental model for arrhythmia, a necessary tool to develop personalized medicine approaches to sudden cardiac death. In addition to her research, Dr. Eckhardt co-directs the Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic and the Cardiac Arrest Prevention Program. “The clinical Inherited Arrhythmia Clinic compliments the ongoing innovative research in our Cellular and Molecular Arrhythmia Research Program making UW-Madison an ideal environment for SCD research. I am grateful to the Schuster family for supporting our efforts to understand the life-threatening genetic and acquired conditions that contribute to SCD,” said Dr. Eckhardt.

The prize is funded through an endowment established by UW-Madison alumnus Benjamin Schuster, MD, who earned his medical degree from UW-Madison, and his wife Marian. Dr. Schuster also completed his residency training at UW and was selected for one of the first cardiology fellowships sponsored by the National Heart Institute of the US Public Health Service at the University of Wisconsin. He founded and led the Kettering Medical Center's Cardiac Diagnostic and Interventional Laboratory in Kettering, Ohio, and directed the Kettering Medical Center's Cardiovascular Institute from 2000 until his death in 2012.