Back to Spring 2022

Letter from the director

Comments from Dr. Greg Hundley

VCU and VCU Health lost a trailblazer last December with the death of Dr. Hermes Kontos, the former dean of the VCU School of Medicine and former CEO of the VCU Health System Authority. I was fortunate to know Dr. Kontos personally and work with him as a young physician. He was a gifted mentor to me and touched countless lives in his four-decades-long career. In this issue of The Beat, we remember him as a generous colleague, visionary leader and passionate researcher.

Dr. Greg Hundley Dr. Greg Hundley

Dr. Kontos recognized the importance of lifesaving cardiovascular research. So do we at Pauley. Every day, our active cardiovascular disease research program furthers knowledge of heart disease, its treatments and its cures. In our cover story, you’ll meet the multidisciplinary team bringing their individual interests and expertise upon the problem of inflammation of the heart. Lingering, chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases, including heart failure. A promising new field in cardiology — in which researchers innovate to find a targeted treatment for inflammation — has evolved at VCU Health, and our renowned physicians are at the forefront.


Several of these physicians have joined me in mentoring young scientists in our summer fellowship program. In these pages, I’m thrilled to acknowledge the hard work of four undergraduate fellows who took important steps in their careers by presenting at the 71st Annual American College of Cardiology Scientific Session and Expo. We’re excited to follow their progress and see what comes next for these bright and enthusiastic students.


We love hearing from grateful patients, and in this issue, you’ll read about Alexander Reeves. The retired physician became the first VCU Health patient to undergo radiation therapy for ablation of refractory VT. When conventional treatment options failed and Dr. Reeves’ condition was end stage, he was offered a new technique that is rarely performed nationally. Today, under the expert care of our Pauley team, Dr. Reeves is thriving.


Speaking of patients, you’ll also meet Pauley cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. A.J. Cardounel, who shares his remarkable story of undergoing triple-bypass surgery at Pauley. Learn how the experience has made him a more insightful and compassionate clinician.


Rounding out this issue is news about our latest educational program. Developed by new faculty member Dr. Sangeeta Shah, a pilot program called Teach BP will educate Richmond-area fourth- and fifth-graders about blood pressure and prepare them to share what they’ve learned with family members. “Research has shown that children can affect the health care of their family. Why not use them as change agents?” Dr. Shah said. We couldn’t agree more.


I hope you’ll enjoy reading these and other stories in this issue of The Beat.

Sincerely yours,
Dr. Greg Hundley

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Read Next Story Patient-as-provider profile: A.J. Cardounel, M.D.
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