History of Cardiovascular Research


Houston, Texas has a rich history of cardiovascular research and medical advancements. Over the years, several prominent institutions, renowned researchers, and groundbreaking discoveries have contributed to the city's status as a major hub for cardiovascular research. Among these notable faculty are Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, a cardiovascular surgeon and researcher and Dr. Mark L. Entman, a recognized expert in cardiovascular sciences. 

Timeline of Accomplishments


  • Baylor University College of Medicine moves from Dallas to Houston and becomes a member of the TMC in 1943. 
  • In 1948, Dr. Michael E. DeBakey accepts the chairship of the Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. 


  • In 1951, Dr. Denton Cooley joins the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine.
  • Dr. Michael E. DeBakey performs first successful carotid endarterectomy in 1953, establishing the field of surgery for strokes.
  • Drs. Denton Cooley and Dan McNamara start the Heart Center at Texas Children’s Hospital in 1954. 
  • Denton Cooley, M.D. performs first open-heart operation in 1956.


  • The Texas Heart Institute is established in 1962 by Dr. Denton Cooley.
  • Michael E. DeBakey, MD. performs first successful aortocoronary- artery bypass with autogenous vein graft at Methodist Hospital in 1964. 
  • Dr. Denton Cooley performs the first successful human heart transplant in the United States in 1968. 


  • Dr. Mark L. Entman is recruited to Baylor College of Medicine as an assistant professor. 
  • First School of Perfusion Technology established at Texas Heart Institute in the US in 1971. It remains one of the few accredited programs of its kind in the country. 
  • Cardiovascular Surgery Research (CVSR) Laboratories established in 1972 to advance the understanding and treatment of cardiovascular disease.
  • First in-world intra-abdominal left ventricular assist device (ALVAD) performed by Dr. John C. Norman in 1976. 
  • NIH funded Demonstration Center of the Heart and Vessel Diseases established at Baylor College of Medicine in 1976 under the leadership of Dr. Mark L. Entman. The Center later became known as the DeBakey Heart Center in 1985. 
  • First T32 Cardiovascular Sciences Training Grant awarded to Julius C. Allen, PhD at Baylor College of Medicine in 1979. The training program is currently funded by NIH. 


  • In 1981, the NHLBI awards Antonio Gotto, M.D. with a P60 grant for a Specialized Center of Research in Atherosclerosis to study lipoprotein structure and metabolism.
  • The NHLBI awards Antonio Gotto, M.D. a SCOR grant for his work titled “A/S SCOR Structure and Metabolism of Plasma Lipoproteins” in 1983. The work was funded for a decade.
  • Texas Children’s Hospital establishes the Heart Transplant Program in 1984. 
  • Dr. O.H. "Bud" Frazier develops the AbioCor artificial heart in 1985.
  • The American Heart Association establishes the Bugher Centers for Training in Molecular Biology of the Cardiovascular system. Baylor College of Medicine is one of six Centers funded from 1986-1996.


  • Dr. Mark L. Entman awarded a program project grant from the NHLBI for his work titled “Role of Inflammation in Early Myocardial Ischemia” in 1991.
  • The Cardiovascular Sciences Graduate Program is founded by Mark L. Entman, M.D. and Julius C. Allen, Ph.D. in 1992. Twenty-two students were enrolled during the inaugural year and the first student graduated in 2000.
  • Christie Ballantyne, M.D. is first to report the association of levels of adhesion molecules with severe dyslipidemia, transplant rejection, and cardiovascular events in 1996. 
  • Dr. Mark L. Entman becomes the Scientific Director at the DeBakey Heart Center in 1997.
  • The Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital is founded by Dr. John Belmont in 1997. 


  • Dr. Christie Ballantyne is one of the earliest investigators to publish one of the first papers suggesting that LpPLA2 would not be a successful target of therapy for atherosclerosis in 2000.
  • The Adult Congenital Heart (ACH) Program is created at Texas Children’s Hospital in 2004.  
  • In 2006, under the leadership of James F. Martin, M.D., Ph.D.; the Martin laboratory developed the first mouse model of Pitx2 (paired-like heomodomain 2).


  • Dr. James F. Martin’s laboratory reports that Pitx2 inhibits atrial arrhythmias using a mouse model in 2010. The works are published in the PNAS journal.
  • In 2010, the laboratory led by Miguel A. Cruz, Ph.D. is first in linking high levels of extracellular hemoglobin to thrombosis at a high shear stress.
  • Drs. William Cohn and O.H. "Bud" Frazier develop and implant a continuous-flow total heart replacement device (HeartMate II LVAD) in patient with end-stage heart failure in 2011.
  • Texas Children’s Hospital ranked #1 in the nation for cardiology and heart surgery care by US News and World Reports in 2016. The ranking stands current as of 2023.
  • The Dr. Mark L. Entman Endowment is awarded to Baylor College of Medicine by the Medallion Foundation in 2016. Dr. Entman announced as Chairman of the Board for the Foundation. 
  • Texas Children’s Hospital announces its Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Program in 2017. 
  • BCM faculty member Na Li, Ph.D. is the first to demonstrate a causal link between the NLRP3 inflammasome and the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation in 2018. 
  • In 2019, Texas Children’s Hospital announces Dr. Peter Ermis and Dr. Edward Hickey as new leaders of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Program.