Dr Burt Sobel Dies, Age 75

Shelley Wood

May 07, 2013

SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT — Cardiologist and scientist Dr Burton Sobel, renowned for his work with macromolecules in the setting of MI, died May 3, at home. He was 75.

Director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of Vermont, Sobel was also a professor of medicine and biochemistry and in 2009 was named a University of Vermont Distinguished University Professor. Over the course of his career, he also held academic and leadership positions at the University of California, San Diego, and Washington University and Barnes Hospital in Saint Louis.

A long-time colleague of Sobel's, Dr Harold Dauerman, told heartwire in an email about an early encounter with Sobel that summed up "what Burt stood for."

According to Dauerman, "I told Burt I would come to University of Vermont and make an academic interventional cardiology program with goals of excellence in education, clinical research, and innovative care. But I reminded him that expanded research and educational programming was very different from growing cath-lab volumes and revenues: was he okay with prioritizing academics over financial goals? Burt answered without hesitation--build an academically excellent cath lab and all the other stuff will work out. His top priority was unwavering and clear: move our field forward and be part of the noble process of academic cardiovascular medicine."

Dr Robert Califf (Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, NC) touched on the same theme: "One of the amazing things about academic medicine is the influence an individual can have within a generation within that field. Burt Sobel was an icon of academic cardiology, and his Washington University program did an amazing job of turning out physician scientists truly dedicated to the academic discipline."

Dauerman added that Sobel had "never wavered" from the principles of traditional academic cardiovascular medicine in the time they worked together. "He was not compromising about goals of publication, teaching, clinical excellence, and innovation. He had a very strong sense that he was part of a great history of discovery in our field, with frequent mention of his great colleagues and mentors."

Sobel completed his undergraduate degree at Cornell University in 1958, graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 1962, and completed his internship and residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. He did his fellowship training at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute.

His research interests spanned from thrombolysis to enzyme elevations in MI to cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetes. He was also an avid skier, sailor, and musician.

"As a giant in our field, he casts a long shadow," Dauernan commented. "While his research accomplishments are large-- BARI 2D , thrombolytic therapy, and thrombosis research--my guess is Burt's spirit will endure through the memory and careers of the many trainees, junior faculty, colleagues, and research associates whom he developed and nurtured over his many years."

Sobel is survived by his wife of 55 years, two children, and a granddaughter. A funeral service will be held Wednesday May 8 at 11 am in Temple Sinai Synagogue, South Burlington. A memorial service is planned at the University of Vermont in the fall.


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