PharmD Senior Associate Vice President
Dean, USF College of Pharmacy
President and CEO
Chair, Metro Board of Directors
American Heart Association
Though it typically happens far from the public eye, American Heart Association- supported research is saving lives, and Chuck Sykes, Dr. Kevin Sneed and Bill Muir are working to shine a light on the organization’s crucial advances. Scientists in the Tampa Bay area depend heavily on AHA grants for their research, Sykes notes.
“Just like a business, it’s hard to get your first funding for research,” says Sykes, who served as the Heart Ball chair in 2012 and the Metro Board chair from 2016 to 2018. “For a long time, the AHA was kind of an angel investor. Investigators will tell you that the AHA gave them their first funding so they could get far enough along in their research to apply for a National Institutes of Health grant.”
“The AHA continues the development and deployment of technology that continues to progress the likelihood of success for procedures when someone has a cardiac incident,” adds Bill Muir, the 2017 Heart Walk co-chair. “I want to help drive that level of technological progress through funding and education and take a proactive approach to health care.”
For Dr. Sneed — the immediate past chairman of the Cultural Health Initiatives Committee for the AHA’s Greater Southeast Affiliate Board of Directors and a member of the Metro Board — research into how cardiovascular issues disproportionately affect African American and Hispanic communities is particularly important, resulting in programs like Target: BP for blood pressure management.
“We’re doing everything we can to galvanize large health care systems to make sure we bring an enhanced awareness of blood pressure for patients and providers,” Dr. Sneed says. “When a patient comes in and has five different problems, one thing that may get overlooked is that they came in with high blood pressure. We want to make sure patients and practitioners are looking at blood pressure.”
Bill Muir says that the Tampa Bay community recognizes the important role the AHA plays in the region’s overall health, even raising a record amount of money for the 2017 Heart Walk last November.
“From Hurricane Harvey in Texas to Irma to Maria in Puerto Rico, there was just a series of natural disasters [before the walk],” he says. “Many individuals were facing personal challenges. In light of all the chaos, the Tampa Bay community came through on a record level.”
Check out how other local leaders are supporting the AHA here.