Rabin’s Gold Standard: Cardiovascular Disease Clinical Research

Senior cardiologist from Rabin Medical Center, Dr. Alon Eisen, is the first doctor from Israel to participate in renowned TIMI (Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction) Study Group in the United States.

In addition to being a Rabin Medical Exchange Fellow, Dr. Eisen is the recipient of the Dr. Len Gottlieb Fund for fellows in Boston, through American Healthcare Professionals and Friends for Medicine in Israel (APF).

Dr. Alon Eisen is spending the year immersed in the “gold standard” of cardiovascular disease clinical research.

The 41-year-old Rishon Le Zion native, a 2014-1015 APF post-doctoral Fellow, is one of four research Fellows with the world–renowned TIMI (Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction) Study Group, an academic research organization at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School. Eisen is the first TIMI Fellow from Israel. 

The TIMI Study Group, was founded in 1984 by Dr. Eugene Braunwald, one of the creators of modern cardiology, and now is chaired by Dr. Marc Sabatine. TIMI has conducted trials in more than 50 countries and at more than 5,000 different sites. It has helped shaped the very practice of cardiovascular medicine for more than a quarter of a century, says Eisen. “Much of what we know in cardiology is from what has been done by the TIMI Study Group.”

Eisen came to the United States in October with his wife Maya, 40, a human resources specialist, a daughter Ofri, 7 ½ years old and sons Matan, 5 ½ years old and Ori 7, months old.
The senior cardiologist at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikvah had already done some cardiac disease research and published about 20 journal articles.

Eisen attended medical school at Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University; did his internship at Rabin Medical Center and his residency in internal medicine at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, as well as a residency in cardiology at Rabin Medical Center.

Medicine wasn’t a childhood dream for him. After his army service as a combat officer, he started university in engineering and found “It wasn’t my cup of tea. And a few months later I started medical school. I like science, but I also really like working with people and medicine is something that combines these two.”

Why Cardiology?
“I like cardiology, first of all, because it is a part of internal medicine, which is, I believe, is the father of medicine. I am fascinated by the physiology of the heart. Cardiology is a very wide and inclusive field, and it includes both traditional bed side medicine, as well as innovation and technology. “Also, it is very practical since cardiovascular disease is the most common cause, with cancer, of morbidity and mortality today.”

After he finished his residency in cardiology, Eisen decided he wanted to ramp up his cardiology research skills, was very interested in the TIMI group’s work and decided to apply. His Boston assignment is a very different experience from home, he says. "My work includes analyzing and reviewing clinical data of ongoing and prior cardiovascular clinical trials", he says.

While Eisen thinks highly of cardiac care and research in Israel, this time is something he couldn’t get back home, he said.

“There is excellent research back in Israel, but these are world-wide trials. In addition, I have never had access to the experience of how to manage trials and what’s happening behind the scenes,” he said. “This is something I was not a part of in Israel during my research. I was involved in clinical research as an investigator, but not as part of the group that runs clinical trials “And now I’m learning ‘the gold standard’ for cardiovascular disease clinical research.”

Eisen says he’s not only doing his Fellowship for personal education, he sees it as a “collective, national goal.” He would like to improve cardiac research in Israel in order to make Israel a more vigorous part of cardiac research internationally, and thus improve patient care and outcome. “I would hope to continue to collaborate with TIMI when I return to Israel.”

Eisen says that the pace in TIMI is far less hectic than in the intensive cardiac care unit back in Israel. “You do have projects and deadlines; but you have no sick patients, no emergencies, no complications. In a sense, it’s an enjoyable and learning period.

“But there’s also an ambivalent feeling. Here I’m working with world-wide known cardiologists and researchers and this is truly a unique and exciting opportunity and a great experience for me. I will miss it very much. However, as a clinician, I do miss my patients and look forward to going back to the clinic.

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