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Sharon Hunt
ISHLT 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Heather J. Ross, MD, MHSc, FRCP(c)
Toronto General Hospital

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sharon huntIt is a huge honor and an incredibly humbling experience to introduce you to this year's lifetime achievement award winner, Sharon Hunt.

I was a fellow at Stanford, I hesitate to say, from 1994-1996. I had the amazing experience of being trained by Sharon, who has been my mentor and colleague for these many years and, for the moment, a friend—though that may change after I show some of these photos.... As they say Sharon be careful what you wish for....

Sharon was born and grew up in Ohio, nobody really knows when—an issue that is often talked about as she clearly hasn't aged a day in over 20 years. Getting back to it, she was born in Northfield, a small suburb of Cleveland. In talking to her brother Ed he describes their youth as a very normal Midwestern US life. Her Dad was an engineer and mom a homemaker.

Sharon excelled in academics, especially science. She graduated from an all girls' high school and gained her undergraduate Biology and Chemistry degrees at The University of Dayton, in Dayton, Ohio. Ed describes their youth as fairly normal ranging (depending on the day) from loving siblings to not acknowledging one another's existence. Yet, as Ed says, he always knew she was special, especially as they grew older and he learned to better appreciate her accomplishments.

hunt and shumway et al
   L to R: Joan Miller, Sharon, Norman Shumway, and Helen Luikart in Venice, Italy
   April 1994

Sharon was always looking to do more and, upon graduating from Dayton, she headed out west alone and, as her brother says, no one—including her—quite knew the plan. Next thing they heard, she had been accepted at Stanford ... and of course the rest as you know is history!

Ed's favourite "Sharon story" happened when the family went out to visit Sharon and met Norm Shumway - Ed and Norm were on the first tee at the Stanford golf links. While chatting and waiting for their tee time, Shumway said to Ed that Sharon was one of the best doctors he had known. Although Ed was appropriately impressed with those words from such a distinguished and respected man, he remembers his brotherly response was, "are we talking about the same person?"

And of course they were. Her lifetime clinical and academic partnership with Norm Shumway is truly the stuff of legends. Their collaboration and its results have impacted every single individual in this room—all of us the better for it especially as it relates to how we practice transplantation. In fact, Sharon jokingly calls herself "the longest-living transplant cardiologist."

Sharon has too many awards and honors to mention. I wanted to hit on some of the highlights of an incredible career - focusing on her teaching, mentorship and clinical ability.

  • She received the David A. Rytand Clinical Teaching Award, Stanford University Department of Medicine (2002)
  • Was designated an "Elite Reviewer" by Journal of American College of Cardiology in 2004
  • 2006 Laennec Master Clinician Award, American Heart Association
  • 2007 American Society of Transplantation Senior Achievement Award in Clinical Transplantation

If there's a national or international committee dedicated to HF and transplant, she has sat on it. She has been on the editorial board of every high-impact cardiac and heart transplant journal including our own ISHLT Journal for Heart and Lung Transplantation (JACC, J Card Failure, JHLT) and is an associate editor for Hurst's The Heart—a bible in cardiology.

hunt and reitz
   Sharon with Bruce Reitz, Tokyo, Japan
   April 2000

She has been involved with almost every guideline written on the management of heart failure and heart transplant, including becoming the Chair of the ACC/AHA Committee to Rewrite Heart Failure Guidelines from 1999 to 2005.

Sharon has also been heavily involved in the American Board of Internal Medicine, most recently the chair of the ABIM certification board in advanced HF and transplant cardiology, legitimizing the heart failure field in the United States. In fact, for all the Americans reading this: the ABIMs in advanced heart failure and transplant that you've been studying for and sweating over ... well, you can blame Sharon as she was one of the people who wrote the questions.

She has been a stalwart supporter and dedicated member of the ISHLT for more than 20 years. In 1991 she became a Councilor for the ISHLT, Program Committee Member in 1994 and of course the ISHLT president in 1995.

Her academic output is stellar - in the interest of time, just looking at the last 4 years her publications have been cited > 1900 times and her H index is consistent with membership in the United States National Academy of Sciences (as per Wikipedia).

Her reach, her impact, and her influence is worldwide, having supported educated and mentored individuals from all over the world - with a specific love affair with Canada where 8 of 9 programs are Sharon Stanford Alumni, hence our desire to change the name of our Canadian Cardiac Transplant Network to Stanford North.

Although her entire academic career has been spent at Stanford, for those who know her, we know that it wasn't only Stanford that kept her in California but La Honda, and her longtime friends in the woods. However these stories are best told over a good chardonnay perhaps later tonight!

She is a proud and loving mother to Meghan who is now a successful policewoman. And she has a few other loves who share her life.

I think though what gives me heart and hope and what has always amazed me the most about Sharon is that she is the complete package and has been throughout her stellar career. She is a devoted mother, hobby horse rider, extensive adventurer and traveller, she's confident and a confidant, bighearted, compassionate, trustworthy, brilliant, distinguished, prolific, and a good friend. She has been and remains a role model for every female heart failure transplant cardiologist and for a good number of men as well.

If you would like to view Sharon's slide presentation in PDF format, please follow the below link (or copy and paste in your browser window): (5.5 MB)

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.