In Memoriam: Dr. Donald S. Baim

Jon C. George, MD
Jon C. George, MD
   ABSTRACT: Dr. Donald Baim was widely regarded as one of the founders and pioneers of the profession of interventional cardiology. Herein is a brief report of his life and contributions along with perspectives from the society of interventional cardiology, his mentors, colleagues and students. J INVASIVE CARDIOL 2010;22:296–297 “Looking back, I’m struck that we as interventional cardiologists have never simply accepted the limitations placed before us. We’ve always tried to overcome them through creative thinking — and then to subject the results of that creativity to the crucible of evidence-based medicine knowing that sometimes we’ll win, and sometimes we’ll lose, but always, we’ll move forward.” – Donald Baim, MD    On November 6, 2009, the interventional cardiology community was shocked to hear of the untimely death of Dr. Donald Baim following surgery to treat newly diagnosed adrenal cancer at the age of 60. Dr. Baim was widely regarded as one of the founders and pioneers of the profession of interventional cardiology.    Donald Baim received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Chicago in 1971 and earned his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine in 1975. He completed his training in internal medicine and cardiology at Stanford School of Medicine. He worked as a post-graduate student at Stanford under Dr. John Simpson, contributing to the early development of movable guidewire coronary angioplasty catheters. He was appointed Director of Interventional Cardiology at Beth Israel Hospital, Boston in 1981, which grew under his direction to be one of the world’s foremost interventional cardiology programs. He moved to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, in 2000 as Director of the Center for Innovative Minimally Invasive Therapy. He eventually joined Boston Scientific in 2006 as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, to oversee both preclinical and clinical studies, educational programs and physician relationships, technology development strategy and device safety.    Dr. Baim’s prestigious career included positions as a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a leading physician at Beth Israel Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He was a prolific author, publishing nearly 300 scientific papers and editing the leading textbook in the field of interventional cardiology, Grossman’s Cardiac Catheterization, Angiography and Intervention, now in its seventh edition. He served as the principal investigator on several interventional cardiology trials and was a founder of or a key contributor to over 20 start-up companies and medical device incubators. He was awarded the Career Achievement Award at the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics Conference in 2000 for his clinical, research and educational contributions to the field.    Dr. Baim was well respected universally within the society of interventional cardiology, by his mentors, colleagues and students.


    “Dr. Baim was one of the founders of our profession, and had a deep commitment to the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) since joining the Society in 1984 and faculty status soon thereafter. In addition to authoring or co-authoring 41 articles in the SCAI’s journal, Dr. Baim served as a key contributor to the Society’s guidelines, quality standards and professional programs over the years. Don embraced the field of interventional cardiology, and was instrumental in helping new technologies mature, and scientifically, his enthusiasm and insight will be missed.” Steven R. Bailey, MD President Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions


    “I was Chair of Medicine and Bill Grossman was Chief of Cardiology at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital when we recruited Don to join us from Stanford. We asked him to start a program in Interventional Cardiology. His superior intelligence, creativity, hard work and persistence made him immensely successful. Don recruited well and his program thrived. Don was an extraordinary mentor to fellows and became a leader in the field. He will be sorely missed.” Eugene Braunwald, MD Chairman, TIMI Study Group Brigham and Women’s Hospital     “Don Baim was one of the most brilliant and creative men I have ever known. Although I recruited Don straight out of his training at Stanford to come to Boston and the Beth Israel Hospital, Don rapidly became my mentor in many things, as he pioneered as one of the founders of what is now called “Interventional Cardiology.” In addition to his legendary skills as an interventionalist, Don was a superb physiologist. Finally, Don had an uncanny ability to predict the future and foretell which of a myriad of potential re- search directions was ready for a breakthrough. Our field is diminished without Don’s presence.” William Grossman, MD Chair, Preventive Cardiology University of California, San Francisco


    “Dr. Baim was a pioneer in the development of interventional cardiology, and the many contributions he made to science, medicine and medical technology will serve as a proud and enduring legacy. We were fortunate to have had Dr. Baim as a member of the Boston Scientific family, and we are grateful for all he did for our company.” Ray Elliott President and Chief Executive Officer Boston Scientific


    “Don was a brilliant interventional cardiologist with a passion for improving procedural techniques and outcomes. He had an uncanny ability to perceive three-dimensional space from only two dimensions and very slick hands. He was a demanding teacher and mentor, but the high bar he set helped you reach new levels.” Daniel I. Simon, MD Chief, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine University Hospitals Case Medical Center    The legacy of Dr. Donald Baim has been witnessed by the society of interventional cardiology, his mentors, colleagues and students, and will be carried on to future generations by his contributions to the field of interventional cardiology.    Acknowledgments. I would like to thank everyone quoted in this article for offering their perspectives on the life and accomplishments of Dr. Donald Baim. My sincere condolences to the Baim family for their loss.

_________________________________________________ From the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Deborah Heart and Lung Center, Browns Mills, New Jersey. Editorial submitted March 29, 2010 and accepted April 1, 2010. Address for correspondence: Jon C. George, MD, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Deborah Heart and Lung Center, 200 Trenton Road, Browns Mills, New Jersey 08015. E-mail: jcgeorgemd@hotmail.com