In March 2012, after seven years of fundraising, the Gootter Foundation met one of its goals of raising $2 million to establish the Steven M. Gootter Endowed Chair for the Prevention and Treatment of Sudden Cardiac Death at University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center.

Dr. Jil C. Tardiff, Gootter Endowed Chair

jtardiff_endowedchairDr. Tardiff spent the last 25 years in New York City developing new approaches to alter the natural history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. She is now a professor in the UA College of Medicine. The University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center’s reputation in heart muscle research was a major draw in her decision to accept the chair. “I am primarily a basic science researcher, specifically a muscle biologist, and the UA—stretching back to Eugene Morkin (a founding co-director of Sarver Heart Center)—always has been known as a stellar center for muscle research. That reputation continues to this day and the opportunity to interact directly with scientists like Carol Gregorio, Henk Granzier and Paul Krieg—to name but a few—was a significant attractant. Cardiac muscle is an inherently difficult system to study and having like-minded colleagues with such varied approaches is a major advantage to any research program,” says Dr. Tardiff, who recently joined the faculty as a professor in the Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiology, and the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine in the UA College of Medicine, and the BIO5 Institute. Dr. Tardiff’s recruitment was made possible by support from the Steven M. Gootter Foundation and accelerated by a grant from the UA Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI). Under the leadership of Fernando D. Martinez, MD, the UA CTSI provides the groundwork for therapeutic medical advances in priority areas, including cardiovascular disease.

“I have tremendous respect for the Gootter Foundation and the work of the UA Sarver Heart Center Resuscitation Research Group. In many ways there is no greater gift than a successful resuscitation or ‘save.’ It gives someone a second chance in a situation where all would be lost. To develop all of these programs, provide AEDs and help broaden the knowledge in the community of the new approach to CPR that was developed at the UA is an incredible accomplishment,” says Dr. Tardiff. “The Gootter Foundation also emphasizes the important and active role that independent foundations and donations can play in furthering health goals. My entire career has been focused on developing new approaches to alter the natural history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). The goal is to identify relatives at risk to prevent a cardiac arrest,” says Dr. Tardiff.

Starting her medical career as an endocrinologist, Dr. Tardiff recalls a patient that changed her entire career trajectory. “This patient was resuscitated from a sudden cardiac arrest and turned out to have HCM. Many, many groups have wrestled with the difficulties in linking genotype (genetic makeup) to phenotype (physical characteristics) in the past 20 years and it has become very clear that new, results-oriented approaches are needed, both with respect to bench research and clinical diagnosis,” she says. From the bench research side, these novel experimental methodologies are, by definition, highrisk, meaning that there is no guarantee that they will work at first and often need significant development time. “I have earmarked the proceeds from the Gootter Chair to fund only my most creative and cutting edge work; it is a tremendous advantage for this program,” says Dr. Tardiff.