A Twofer for Cleveland Clinic in 2017 ASE Lifetime Achievement Awards

Dr. William Stewart, sonographer Koko Park earn honors

Both of the Lifetime Achievement Awards presented at the American Society of Echocardiography’s (ASE) annual scientific sessions earlier this month in Baltimore went to longtime Cleveland Clinic staff:

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  • William J. Stewart, MD, FASE, received the Physician Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Margaret (Koko) M. Park, BS, ACS, RDCS, RVT, FASE, received the Sonographer Lifetime Achievement Award

“Beyond being a testament to Bill and Koko’s standout achievements and dedication to the field of echocardiography, these awards speak to Cleveland Clinic’s long tradition of excellence and leadership in our subspecialty,” says Allan Klein, MD, ASE President for 2016-17 and a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist. “I am proud to be able to present these awards to these colleagues of mine who are great individuals and national leaders of the field.”

The two recipients are shown together at the ASE meeting in the photo above.

The ASE Lifetime Achievement Awards, given to one physician each year and one sonographer every other year, recognize individuals who have contributed to the field of cardiovascular ultrasound for at least 25 years and have served as role models through service, research and teaching at the local, national and international levels.

Dr. Stewart: A pioneer in intraoperative echo

In the nearly 33 years since Dr. Stewart joined the Section of Cardiovascular Imaging in Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, he has not missed a single scheduled day of work.

He has put all those hours to good use, cultivating broad specialty interests in valvular disease, mitral valve repair, aortic valve repair, Doppler echo, decision-making around the timing of valve surgery, less-invasive heart surgery, 3-D echo, intraoperative echo and hemodynamic research.

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Dr. Stewart was among the pioneers of intraoperative transesophageal echo and played a key role in epicardial echo innovations. More recently, he has helped define the role of intraprocedural echo in transcatheter valve interventions for structural heart disease, including service on the writing committee for the landmark PARTNER trials.

Between those innovations Dr. Stewart has found time to serve as an invited speaker on valve and imaging topics at national and international conferences and as a Professor of Medicine at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. He has likewise held various leadership roles at ASE, including two terms on its Board of Directors, as well as positions on the editorial boards of Echocardiography, Journal of the American Society of Echocardiography and Heart Advisor. His research has been published in more than 220 articles in leading medical journals, and he’s shared his expertise by authoring 19 chapters in medical textbooks.

“One of the standouts among Bill’s many clinical contributions is the expertise with which he has counseled hundreds, if not thousands, of patients on the optimal timing of surgery for stenosis or regurgitation of the mitral, aortic or tricuspid valves,” notes Dr. Klein. “Patients have come from all around the world for his expert opinion and consummate skills as a clinician.”

Koko Park: Still expanding horizons after 40+ years

The path to Koko Park’s ASE Lifetime Achievement Award began in 1973, when she started as an echo technician and research assistant in what was then known as the Cardiac Function Lab at Cleveland Clinic.

Over the next four decades Ms. Park has pursued ever-broadening interests as a clinical cardiac sonographer, researcher and educator. Those pursuits have culminated in her current role as Lead Imaging Specialist in the Imaging Core Lab of the Cleveland Clinic Coordinating Center for Clinical Research (C5Research), a premier academic research organization, where she is responsible for research-quality image analysis and serves as project lead on selected Imaging Core Lab trials.

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She has been active in multiple roles in the ASE for more than a decade, including service on the Board of Directors, and is currently Co-Chair of the Cardiovascular Sonography Steering Committee, where she is in line to become Chair of the ASE Sonographer Council. She is deeply involved in other local and national echocardiography and vascular societies and in 2016 became one of the first cardiac sonographers to obtain the new Advanced Cardiac Sonographer (ACS) credential.

Research has been central to Koko’s career from the start, and she is widely published in cardiovascular ultrasound, with a special interest in right heart and pulmonary disease. Her imaging research is often collaborative across various Cleveland Clinic departments — collaboration fostered by her additional role as a pathobiology research coordinator. Koko also serves as adjunct faculty in echocardiography instruction at a local community college and is frequently an invited speaker at local and national meetings.

“Koko is always eager to take the opportunity to teach about cardiovascular ultrasound, be it the daily education of a sonographer or cardiac fellow in the lab, clinical instruction of a sonography student or delivering a lecture at a conference,” says Dr. Klein. “It’s that role-modeling and commitment to the field that earned her this well-deserved ASE honor.”

Other 2017 ASE award recipients

The rest of the slate of this year’s ASE award recipients is as follows:

  • Jean-Claude Fouron, MD (University of Montreal), Council on Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease Founders’ Award
  • Alan S. Pearlman, MD (University of Washington Medical Center), Meritorious Service Award
  • Muhamed Saric, MD (New York University), Richard Popp Excellence in Teaching Award
  • Robert M. Savage, MD (McLeod Healthcare), Outstanding Achievement in Perioperative Echocardiography Award