The Heart Rhythm Society is proud to recognize these exemplary individuals for their unique contributions.
Recognition Award Winners
Distinguished Allied Professional
Susan L. Song, BSN, RN, FHRS
Susan L. Song, BSN, RN, FHRS started her nursing career in 1968, working at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center for ten years. In 1978, she joined Dr. Michael Bilitch as the Assistant Director of the USC Pacemaker Center. Her responsibilities included producing statistical reports for the Food and Drug Administration and for publication in PACE. After Dr. Bilitch’s passing in 1987, she continued to manage the Multicenter Pacemaker Registry until the final publication known as "The Bilitch Report" in April 1994.
As the Nurse Coordinator for the Pacemaker Clinic, she was present from the inception of these device technologies through their current evolution, defining the role of the allied professional in device management. Her loyalty, dedication and personal concern for her patients has provided great emotional support for their continued care. She has also educated generations of USC staff and cardiology fellows on device programming.
Suzie was one of the original members of NASPE, later renamed the Heart Rhythm Society. She supported the staff and worked tirelessly behind the scenes. As a pioneer in the field and an allied professional member of NASPE since 1980, she served as a role model, spearheading the development of the Council of Associated Professionals (NASPE/CAP). She has been tireless in advocating for the recognition of allied professionals. She has served on countless committees including CME, Program Committee, 25th Anniversary Task Force, Governance, Marketing, Patient Care and AP Leadership. The most memorable was the History Project, working with Dr. Seymour Furman from 1997-2004.
She has been unwavering in her support of HRS through the years and through its transition from NASPE. She received a Dedication to the Purposes of the Society Certificate in 1990, Distinguished Service Award in 1994 and Heart Rhythm Foundation Certificate of Appreciation in 2011. She served on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee as Secretary in 2007–2009. She has dedicated herself to preserving and sharing the rich history of HRS with passion in her present role in the History Subcommittee.
Suzie makes herself known to every member of the Society with her effusive warmth and hugs. She is always someone who allied professionals can run to with ease for professional advice and fellowship.
Michael J. Ackerman, MD, PhD
Michael J. Ackerman, MD, PhD has created, in Rochester, MN, a stimulating research environment conducive to important research accomplishments on the phenotypic and genetic aspects of sudden death predisposing inherited arrhythmia syndromes. Patients are sent from all over the United States and the world to Mayo Clinic to see Michael as their physician. His advice is also frequently sought through internet forums by other experts throughout the world. He is always promptly responsive, complete and accurate in his answers that very frequently navigating out of these difficult clinical conditions.
As Director of Mayo Clinic’s Genetic Heart Rhythm/Long QT Syndrome Clinic and the Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory, Michael strives to fulfill the two-fold objective of medical education and biomedical research as stated by Dr. Charles H. Mayo: “to heal the sick and to advance the science.” Building upon a strong basic science background having been mentored by Dr. David Clapham, Michael has developed a translational research program that has had, and continues to have, enormous impact on our current insight into these arrhythmogenic diseases and their treatment options. Michael and his research team have published over 500 articles and chapters spanning the continuum of basic, translational, and clinical research and focusing on the cardiac channelopathies, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and sudden death in the young.
In this highly academic environment, Mike has demonstrated excellence in mentoring many young trainees, including several MD/PhD students and PhD students who themselves have received numerous young investigator awards. Dr. Ackerman received his MD and PhD degrees (1988-1995) from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and completed his residency and fellowship training in Pediatrics and Pediatric Cardiology in the Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education (1995-2000).
He has been on faculty at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science since 2000 where he rose to the rank of Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Pharmacology in 2007 and received a named professorship, the Windland Smith Rice Cardiovascular Genomics Research Professor, in 2011. Dr. Ackerman has also served as the president of the board for the Sudden Arrhythmia Death Syndromes (SADS) Foundation since 2006.
William G. Stevenson, MD, FHRS
William G. Stevenson, MD, FHRS has been a thought leader in heart rhythm disorders community, has developed new techniques for managing patients with complex arrhythmias and has, through his teaching abilities, transmitted these the community and to his fellows who have come from all over the world to learn from him.
His studies extend from early work on pace mapping and entrainment through refining criteria for successful ablation, application to more complicated substrates such as sarcoid and dilated cardiomyopathy, the use of epicardial approaches, and most recently, the needle electrode that he has pioneered. He has not only guided our understanding of how best to manage patients with VT but has participated in and led key studies on major problems in our field such as atrial fibrillation and heart failure. He has contributed to multiple task forces charged with developing guidelines for arrhythmia management and has served 10 years as founding editor for Circulation A&E.
One of Bill’s greatest talents is not only applying a deeper understanding of mechanisms to advancing care of patients with arrhythmias, but also educating others in these now familiar but highly complex methodologies. His teaching talents have been recognized at many institutions around the world. He founded one of the first formal training programs in clinical cardiac electrophysiology as well as an advanced fellowship program for research in clinical training. He has served our society and community in many leadership capacities. He was a member of the ABIM’s test committee on clinical cardiac EP (1997-2002), founding editor-in-chief of Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology (2008-2017), Vice President (2005-2007) and President (2007-2009) of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Society, and Chair of the Canadian Arrhythmia Network International Advisory Committee since 2016.
Pioneer in Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology
Eric N. Prystowsky, MD, FHRS
Eric N. Prystowsky, MD, FHRS, is a pioneer of clinical cardiac electrophysiology. After training in EP with John Gallagher at Duke, he served on the faculty of Indiana University and Duke University. At both institutions, he led clinical and research programs that allowed for fundamental physiology discoveries related to cardiac EP, including accessory pathway function, supraventricular tachycardia mechanisms and autonomic influence on cardiac conduction. His discoveries were especially relevant, since his substrate was the human heart and his laboratory was the clinical electrophysiology lab. Outside the lab, he was also instrumental in forwarding clinical research, including development of the MUSTT grant. In 1988, Eric moved back to Indianapolis to develop the arrhythmia service at St. Vincent Hospital. In this practice environment, he has continued to extend his national and international leadership in the field of cardiac EP almost 30 years. For example, soon after starting his practice in Indianapolis, he recognized that atrial fibrillation was rampant, but was almost ignored by electrophysiologists at that time. He helped bring this critically important arrhythmia to the attention of cardiologists and electrophysiologists alike through studies of his own clinic population and through development of clinical practice guidelines.
Eric Prystowsky is a consummate educator. While he is perhaps happiest and most effective sitting at the stimulator and imparting wisdom to those in attendance, he has brought fundamental lessons in EP to international audiences of fellows and cardiac electrophysiologists. Through the development of the first fellow-only intracardiac electrogram course, he has provided over 30 generations of students, a total of 4,000 attendees, a "rite of passage" in learning the physiology principles that underlie our discipline.
Even with his beloved clinical practice and fellowship training activities, Dr. Prystowsky continuously contributes to the field of clinical cardiac EP. He has served as a leader of committees for the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology and as the Chair of the ABIM Test Writing Committee for EP Boards. His contributions to the Heart Rhythm Society have been profound and longstanding, including service as President of the Society and Chair of the Heart Rhythm Foundation.
Dr. Prystowsky is equally devoted to his family, including his wife, Bonnie, their sons Daniel and David, and their grandchildren. Bonnie Prystowsky has especially been an important partner in helping lead the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology since 2004. Overall, Dr. Prystowsky has touched the lives and careers of countless electrophysiologists and has personally mentored numerous leaders in the field. His pioneering spirit and enthusiasm for life and clinical cardiac electrophysiology are both infectious and inspiring.
Abstract Award Winners
The Eric N. Prystowsky Early Career Researcher Award
Jorge Romero, MD
The Eric N. Prystowsky Fellows Clinical Research Award
Mohamed Al Rawahi, MD
Fellow with the Highest Scoring Abstract
Kevin Trulock, MD
Highest Scoring Abstract in the Allied Professionals Category
Kimberly Mallory, BSN, RCES, RN
Lectureship Award Winners
Douglas P. Zipes Lectureship Award
Connie R. Bezzina, PhD
The Eric N. Prystowsky Lectureship Award
Pierre Jais, MD
Founders Lectureship Award
Bruce L. Wilkoff, MD, FHRS, CCDS
Ralph Lazzarara Lectureship Award
Silvia G. Priori, MD, PhD
Young Investigator Awards
Hailey J. Jansen, PhD
Jae Hyung Cho, MD
Antonio Frontera, MD
Shohreh Honarbakhsh, MBBS
Shijie Zhou, MASc