Department of Medicine

Lifetime of Achievement Honored

sharonhuntmdSharon Hunt, MD

Sharon Hunt is the newest member of a distinguished group of cardiology pioneers. As the latest recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from The International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT), she joins mentors and fellow awardees Norm Shumway and Margaret Billingham. It’s an honor the Society has given only four times since 1980, and will be awarded to her at the ISHLT annual meeting in Prague, Czech Republic this April.

In 1968, when Shumway did the first heart transplant in the US, Sharon Hunt was one of seven women attending Stanford Medical School, and was working in a cardiology lab. Almost 10 years later, when she finished her specialty training, “They were starting to welcome cardiologists, so I got involved right at the ground floor. In the past transplantation had always been a purely surgical field,” recalled Hunt, Professor of Medicine in the division of cardiovascular medicine. 

Over the past 20 years, she has cared for more than 1500 heart transplant patients and still defines patient care one of the most rewarding aspects of her job. “Someone who undergoes a heart transplant quickly realizes that he or she has been virtually snatched from the jaws of death. They truly value those extra years and, no matter where they live, come in for an annual checkup,” said Hunt, medical director of Stanford’s post-transplant program.

 As a mentor, she has trained more than 40 fellows, worked extensively with American College of Cardiology and was the chair of the ACC/AHA guidelines for the management of chronic heart failure, one of the most cited publications in the field. Last year, when the American Board of Internal Medicine recognized Advanced Heart Failure and Transplantation as subspecialty, Hunt was asked to chair the board that writes the exam to certify physicians to work in the specialty.  “Creating that certification was a big recognition for the field and I am proud to be a part of it.”

Mentor of Mentors

Hunt has been an active member of the ISHLT for many years. She was president in 1995 to 1996 and has served on the Board of Directors. As a charter member, she continues play an instrumental role in the growth of the society, which has been in existence since 1980.

“Sharon Hunt embodies the essence of a lifetime achievement award by her tireless past and ongoing service to the inception and growth of the field of heart transplantation,” said Mandeep Mehra, MD, FACC FACP, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Executive Director, Center for Advanced Heart Disease, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Editor in Chief, The Journal of Lung Transplantation. “She is a unique individual, who was there when it all began, developed a legacy of training leaders in our field, and continues to inspire by exemplifying the trait of being a “mentor of mentors.”

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