While president of the American Heart Association during 1998–1999, one of the projects that I enjoyed the most was the writing of occasional columns for Circulation on National Institutes of Health funding of research, the AHA’s new strategic plan, and other subjects of interest to cardiologists and other health professionals and scientists involved in cardiovascular research and medicine.
For this column, which is being published after I step down as AHA president, I am delighted to introduce Circulation readers to my successor: Lynn Smaha, MD, PhD, an active AHA volunteer for 21 years and recipient of the organization’s Award of Meritorious Achievement. Dr Smaha, who became AHA president on Sunday, June 27, 1999, is a practicing clinical cardiologist at the Guthrie Clinic in Sayre, Pa. He is also the clinic’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, a position that he recently assumed after resigning as its president and chief executive officer to devote more time to the extensive travel and meeting schedule required of the AHA’s president.
However, even as the clinic’s CEO, Dr Smaha gave much of his time to the AHA locally and nationally. A former president of the Pennsylvania Affiliate, Dr Smaha is a member of the AHA’s national board of directors. His other national volunteer activities have included chairing the AHA’s Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) Business Oversight Committee that administered the strategic, detailed business plan for the AHA’s ECC program. He was a member of the 21st Century Steering Team that resulted in the creation of the AHA strategic driving force: the gathering, evaluation, and dissemination of information about cardiovascular disease and stroke. He also played a strong role in the development of the 10-year Strategic Impact Goal, the subject of his and my commentary in a previous issue of Circulation. During the past year, he has been a member of the Nominating and Awards Committee, the Public Policy Subcommittee, and the Science Advisory Coordinating Committee of the AHA.
Born and raised in Marshalltown, Iowa, Dr Smaha received a Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University in 1964. From the University of Iowa, he earned a PhD degree in neuroscience in 1970 and an MD degree the following year. While at the university, he was an instructor in the Department of Anatomy. His medical internship and residency at the Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre provided his first extensive exposure to this rural area of 6000 residents. After completing a fellowship in cardiology at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Tex, he returned to establish his practice there in 1978. Between his internship and residency, he served as a flight surgeon in the US Air Force in Fairbanks, Alaska, and in 1973, he was honored as “Flight Surgeon of the Year.” Dr Smaha, who pilots his plane to see patients at the clinic’s regional sites and to attend AHA meetings, is a certified flight instructor and is one of the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration–designated Senior Aviation Medical Examiners.
Although Dr Smaha and I work and live in different environments, we share a passion for the AHA as a force that can improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke in thousands of people. We also share an international vision for the AHA. His view is based in part on his extensive experience, beginning in the 1980s, as a member of medical missionary teams in the People’s Republic of China.
Thanks to Dr Smaha and the many other volunteers who are the backbone of the AHA, I am very confident in the association’s future. Please lend your support to him as you have to me during my year as AHA president.
- Copyright © 1999 by American Heart Association