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Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine

Mark E. Josephson, MD

Dr. JosephsonMark E. Josephson, MD, an internationally recognized investigator, clinician and educator, is chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine within the CardioVascular Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is also Herman Dana Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard-Thorndike Electrophysiology Institute and Arrhythmia Service.

Dr. Josephson's focus is cardiac electrophysiology, the study of the electrical activity that stimulates the heart to beat, and cardiac arrhythmias, a group of conditions in which abnormal electrical activity produces irregular beats. Millions of heart patients have benefited from his work.

Groundbreaking Researcher

Dr. Josephson is known as the "father of clinical cardiac electrophysiology" because of his work in the 1970s, when he authored a number of groundbreaking studies. His work transformed electrophysiology from a research curiosity to a powerful clinical tool to treat arrhythmias. Among the topics his research addresses are:

  • The electrophysiologic and anatomic factors that are responsible for lethal arrhythmias associated with coronary artery disease and heart attacks.
  • The mechanism that causes rapid heart beats arising in the upper chamber of the heart (supraventricular tachycardias).
  • Catheter mapping of arrhythmias, a technique allowing the doctor to locate abnormal electrical pathways in the heart. This technique became the basis for all ablation techniques - non-surgical procedures in which radio waves or other energy sources are applied to the heart to restore normal electrical flow and thus normal rhythm.
  • Stimulation techniques allowing doctors to characterize the size and critical components of electrical currents causing extra heart beats and the effect of drugs on the heart tissue.
  • Effectiveness of the early defibrillator, a battery-powered device that regulates fast heart beats by delivering electricity to the heart.
  • Development of surgery to prevent ventricular tachycardia and sudden cardiac arrest in patients with coronary artery disease.

Educator and Author

As an educator, Dr. Josephson has had a significant impact on the professional development of electrophysiologists as well development of the field itself. In 1979, he published "Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology: Techniques and Interpretations," a textbook that today, in its fourth edition, remains the definitive electrophysiology textbook. It is one of the extremely rare single-author texts in any field. In 2008, Dr. Josephson and his CVI colleague, Peter J. Zimetbaum, MD, published "Practical Clinical Physiology," a text book guiding physicians in managing arrhythmia patients outside the electrophysiology lab.

Since 1982, Dr. Josephson and Hein J.J. Wellens, MD, of the Academic Hospital in Maastricht, Netherlands, another key figure in the field, have taught a seminar on interpretation of complex arrhythmias in Europe and the United States. This event has been attended by the vast majority of electrophysiology fellows in the United States. Dr. Josephson has mentored more than 150 electrophysiology fellows, many of whom are leaders in the field.

The author of more than 400 original scientific publications, Dr. Josephson has also written 200 chapters, reviews and editorials.

Distinguished Clinician

Throughout his career, Dr. Josephson has maintained an active clinical practice, first at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadephia and, since 1992, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He became chief of cardiovascular medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess in 2001.

Dr. Josephson has received numerous awards:

  • The Career Achievement Award from the University of California at San Francisco Medical School.
  • The International Research in Cardiology (RESCAR) Award given by the University of Limburg in the Netherlands (becoming the first to receive it).
  • The University Medal for Excellence from Columbia University (becoming one of only two physicians to ever receive it), awarded with the citation, "In an age in which diseases of the heart claim so many lives, you have been responsible for the development of innovative diagnostic and therapeutic interventions which permit survival."
  • Both the Distinguished Teacher Award and the Pioneer Award in Cardiac Pacing and Electrophysiology from the Heart Rhythm Society (becoming the first American to receive both awards).

A native New Yorker, Dr. Josephson received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed an internship and a residency in medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, and a fellowship in cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Josephson and his wife have two grown children and two grandchildren.

Contact Information

Cardiovascular Medicine
Division of the CardioVascular Institute
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215