Weill Cornell Dean and Cardiovascular Expert Makes "Top Ten" Texas List

Mar 31, 2000


Dr. Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of the Joan and Sanford Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a world-renowned authority in the field of cardiovascular medicine, was voted one of Houston's top ten physician-scientists of the last hundred years in a survey conducted by the Houston Chronicle.

Scientific Contributions

Dr. Gotto, who spent more than two decades at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he was Chairman of Medicine and Scientific Director of The Debakey Heart Center, was honored for his extraordinary contributions to cardiovascular medicine. He and his associates were the first to achieve the complete synthesis of a significant plasma apolipoprotein (apoC-I), and they also determined the complete cDNA and amino acid sequence of apo B-100, one of the largest proteins ever sequenced and a key protein in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

At Weill Cornell, Dr. Gotto has taken up right where he left off at Baylor. Among his contributions since he became Dean and Professor of Medicine at the Medical College in 1997, are his continuing insights into the salutary benefits of the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs for cardiovascular health in even healthy adults, and the potential predictive value of certain apolipoproteins that are major components of LDL and HDL, the so-called "bad" and "good" cholesterols, respectively.

His latest published article, for example, in the journal Circulation, detailing results from the landmark Air Force/Texas Coronary Atherosclerosis Prevention Study (AFCAPS/TexCAPS), contends that the apolipoproteins apoB and apoAI may be better predictors than the more widely used LDL cholesterol of risk for a first acute major coronary event. While further study is necessary, Dr. Gotto may have, in effect, discovered a new predictive ratio, the apoB/AI ratio, for determining heart disease risk in generally healthy individuals. Additionally, recent AFCAPS/TexCAPS study results may have resolved a long-standing controversy with regard to the appropriate threshold levels of LDL and HDL. Dr. Gotto and associates find that there is no evidence to suggest a threshold LDL level, below which its reduction would not be of coronary benefit, nor, as a corollary, an HDL level above which its increase would not be of coronary benefit.

Dean of Weill Cornell

In just three short years as Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, Dr. Gotto has also contributed significantly to the scientific, educational, and financial health of the Medical College. Through his efforts, he has either implemented or brought to fruition a Strategic Research Plan, which will markedly expand the school's overall research effort; a new problem-based, student-centered curriculum; a new state-of-the art education center; and an increased donor base and school endowment.

Dr. Gotto's leadership with respect to the implementation of Weill Cornell's $316 million Strategic Plan for Research has been particularly impressive. Through his efforts, Weill Cornell has significantly increased total research space and renovated a considerable amount of existing space, recruited several of the country's leading research scientists, increased research grants awarded to Weill Cornell investigators by about 20 percent per year, and markedly increased housing for faculty and postdoctoral fellows. With Cornell's President Hunter Rawlings, Dr. Gotto was largely responsible for the single largest gift ever made to Cornell University—a $100 million contribution in support of the Medical College's Strategic Plan by Joan and Sanford Weill.

Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., M.D., D.Phil.

Dr. Gotto received his B.A., magna cum laude, in biochemistry in 1957 from Vanderbilt University; his D. Phil. in biochemistry in 1961 from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and his M.D. in 1965 from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He did his residency training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Gotto has served as National President of the American Heart Association, as a member of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Advisory Council, and on the National Diabetes Advisory Board, among many other associations. He has received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Bologna and Abilene Christian University, and honorary professorships from the University of Buenos Aires and Francisco Marroquin University (Guatemala). He was awarded the prestigious Order of the Lion from the Republic of Finland.

Dr. Gotto's original scholarly articles number close to 400. He is also co-author, with Dr. Michael DeBakey, of The Living Heart and The New Living Heart Diet, which explain the origin and dietary treatment of cardiovascular disease to the general public; and author of The Living Heart Cookbook.