Milton Packer

Milton Packer

Distinguished Scholar in Cardiovascular Science

Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, TX, US

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Biography

Personal History

Dr Milton Packer was born to Polish immigrants in 1951 and raised in Philadelphia, US. Prior to studying medicine, he was politically active in the 1960s. In his words: “The focus of my upbringing was education, but the major guiding principle in my childhood years (and throughout my entire life) was an uncompromising sense of justice. I was always imbued with the need to strive for and defend the truth.” He began his career in cardiology during a pivotal time for the field, just as interventional cardiology and echocardiography were being introduced. 

He met his late wife when she was an intern in the coronary care unit of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She and their two children have been important in teaching him “how to look at the world.” Before medicine, Dr Packer used to do stand-up comedy; now he enjoys discussing politics and collecting rare books. 

Academic History

Milton Packer completed his undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1971. Following this, he went on to earn his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1973. 

Dr Packer completed his residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, followed by a fellowship in cardiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, also in New York. During his studies, he worked alongside both the late Edmund Sonnenblick (American medical researcher and cardiologist) and Richard Gorlin (American cardiologist known for many contributions in the field). 

Career Overview

Dr Packer is a Distinguished Scholar in Cardiovascular Science at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. He is a founder of the Heart Failure Society of America, of which he was President between 2000 - 2002. 

Dr Packer is one of the most successful and recognised experts in the field of cardiology and has authored over 400 medical research publications. He has been involved in a number of pivotal and groundbreaking trials: these include the REFLECT trial (1987 - 1989), the RADIANCE trial (1989 - 1992),  the ATLAS trial (1993 - 1997) and the REVIVE I and II trials (2001 - 2006). Many of these trials have focused on drugs that are now essential in the management of heart disease, such as bosentan and levosimendan. In 2021 he presented the results of the EMPEROR-Reduced trial, which examined the safety and efficacy of empagliflozin. 

Dr Packer has been a member of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1986, where he was a member of the Executive Committee between 1996 - 2004 and Chairman of the Cardiac and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee between 1997 - 2001. He has credited his appointment as member of the FDA as one of the most “pivotal” moments in his career, stating that “the Food and Drug Administration is the country's most valuable resource for clinical data.” 

In 1992, Dr Packer published a seminal paper on neurohormonal activation in heart failure. The importance of his research in the medical community earned him a Lewis Katz Lifetime Achievement Award in Cardiovascular Research from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2010. 

Career Timeline

  • 1971: Completed his MD at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. 
  • 1979: Made Assistant Professor at Mount Sinai University, New York City. 
  • 1983: Promoted to Associate Professor at Mount Sinai University.
  • 1988: Made Professor at Mount Sinai University.
  • 1987-1989: Principal Investigator (PI) on the REFLECT trial for flosequinan and a PI on a study of amlodipine.
  • 1986: Appointed as Member of the Cardiac and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee at the FDA.
  • 1987: Began running large multi-center clinical trials for heart failure drugs.
  • 1992: moved to Columbia University and was made the Dickinson Richards Professor of Medicine.
  • 1992: Published a groundbreaking paper on a neurohormonal hypothesis to explain heart failure.
  • 2000: Appointed President of the Heart Failure Society of America.
  • 2004: Appointed as the Gayle and Paul Stoffel Distinguished Chair in Cardiology Professor of Clinical Sciences (with tenure) at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center/
  • 2007: Won a UT Southwestern NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award for making statistical expertise more widely available in the college.
  • 2014: Was the Co-PI of the PARADIGM-HF trial that led to the approval of valsartan/sacubitril.
  • 2015 - present: Appointed as Distinguished Scholar in Cardiovascular Science at Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.

Recognition

Dr Packer has won numerous awards throughout his career, both during his medical training and as a postgraduate. 

While in medical school at Jefferson College, Dr Packer won several awards including the Lange Medical Publications Prize in both 1970 and 1972, the 1973 Henry M. Phillips Prize for Surgery and the 1973 Alumni Scholastic Medal. 

In the years since earning his MD, Dr Packer has been awarded the Simon Dack Award for Excellence in Teaching of Cardiovascular Medicine from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1988, the Henry Christian Award for Excellence in Clinical Research by the American Federation for Clinical Research, Washington, D.C. in 1993 and the UT Southwestern NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award in 2007, among many others. 

Most notably, he was awarded the Lewis Katz Lifetime Achievement Award in Cardiovascular Research from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2010, as a result of his groundbreaking research on the treatment of heart failure.

Dr Packer is one of the most highly cited authors in his field. He has been appointed for named lectureships across the US and internationally, including New York Medical College, the Swedish Society of Cardiology, Cornell University Medical Center and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. 

Areas of Speciality

  • Cardiology
  • Chronic heart failure
  • Acute heart failure
  • Neurohormonal activation in heart failure
  • Clinical research
  • Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy
  • FDA regulations

Sources

  1. https://www.fda.gov/media/100057/download
  2. https://jim.bmj.com/content/52/7/421
  3. https://esc365.escardio.org/Person/34050-dr-packer-milton

Articles

Link Between Synovial and Myocardial Inflammation: Conceptual Framework to Explain the Pathogenesis of Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction in Patients with Systemic Rheumatic Diseases (12 May 2020)

Postulated Mechanisms by Which the Systematic Inflammation of Many Rheumatic Disorders can Lead to Heart Failure (2020) 

[VIDEO]: EMPEROR-Reduced: Expert Presentation with the Principal Investigator (17 January 2020)

[VIDEO]: ESC 2020 Discussion: The EMPEROR-Reduced Study (4 September 2020)