Douglas P. Zipes, MD, FHRS is the current and founding editor of HeartRhythm Journal.
My Society is...
The most vibrant and respected organization in the world dedicated to research, education and health care of patients with arrhythmias.
How long have you been a member of the Heart Rhythm Society?
I shared a taxi ride to the airport with Seymour Furman from some meeting in 1978 and he talked about starting an organization devoted to pacing and electrophysiology. He asked me if I would consider being one of the founding members. I told him absolutely. Subsequently, I was invited to give the first Plenary Lecture at the first NASPE Scientific Sessions in 1980 and lectured about pacing becoming a specialty! We were all in a single room where there were, maybe, 35 people in the audience and about four table tops of industry displays.
How has membership in the Society been of value to you and your practice?
NASPE/HRS has served as an important society for the pacing and EP community for research, education and patient care. It was initially very pacing oriented, typified by the interests of the four founders, but gradually had more EP involvement. At one point there was an informal agreement that the NASPE presidency would rotate every other year between an EP and a pacing doc. When I was president (1989-1990), I tried to bring into the Society more basic researchers like Drs. Jalife, Rosen and Antzelevitch, who, at the time, did not look on the Society as having a place for them. Naturally, that has changed a great deal. There was also a point when NASPE was considered a “little brother/sister/cousin” of the American College of Cardiology (ACC). When I was president of the ACC (2001-2002) I also tried to change that. Now, of course, the Heart Rhythm Society is rightly considered one of the most important medical societies in the US.
What Society project (task force or committee related) have you most enjoyed working on?
In 2003/2004, I was approached about becoming the founding editor of HeartRhythm. I had started the Journal for Cardiovascular Electrophysiology (JCE) in 1989 and it was a hard decision to give up such a successful journal after fifteen years of nurturing. We went from worrying where the next submission was coming from at the beginning to receiving about 700 new submissions a year in 2004. And, of course, the new Society journal would now compete head-to-head with JCE. The history of the last five years has proved the decision to have been correct. HeartRhythm is now the number one cardiology specialty journal in the world with almost 1,400 new submissions this year, an acceptance rate of less than 20 percent and an impact factor of 4.444. This could not have been accomplished without the help of HRS, Elsevier, our reviewers, authors, and readers, and — in particular — my wife, Joan, who was the managing editor of JCE and made the transition with me to HeartRhythm. The success of HeartRhythm has been one of my professional highlights.
Do you have any hobbies?
I love opera (any opera whose composer’s name ends in a vowel) and attend as often as I can. In fact, one of my thrills was to be written up in an opera review. At the time (20+ years ago), I was president of Indianapolis Opera when we were having severe financial problems. My board decided I should go on stage in between the first and second acts of Otello to solicit contributions from the audience. The opera review in the Indianapolis Star the next day stated, “Otello was magnificent, and Dr. Zipes’s presentation, though necessary, was a bit tacky.” I am also about to become a fiction author, with my first novel, a medical thriller called “The Black Widows,” to be published this fall. I hope the readers like it.
What is one of your favorite cities and why?
My two favorite U.S. cities are New Orleans and San Francisco because of their European ambience, restaurants, and sights. I love the decadence of Bourbon Street (I always stay at the Royal Sonesta in the Quarter) and the beauty and ethnic diversity of San Francisco.
More from Douglas P. Zipes, MD, FHRS
It has been very exciting to see the Heart Rhythm Society develop into the important society it has become in parallel with the developing importance of EP. We have all—health professionals, industry, publishers and others—made a significant contribution to the health of people all over the world and can feel proud of our accomplishments. We still have a long way to go with the challenges of sudden death and atrial fibrillation, so there is job security for us well into this next century!