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Donald Baim, Interventional Cardiologist, Dead at 60
Donald S. Baim, MD
Donald S. Baim, MD

November 7, 2009 -- Interventional cardiologist, Donald S. Baim, died yesterday following surgery, performed to treat a rare form of cancer that attacks the adrenal glands. He was 60.

Baim was one of the pioneers of interventional cardiology, having worked with John Simpson at Stanford in the early days of balloon angioplasty. He subsequently moved to Boston, establishing in 1981 the interventional cardiology program at Beth Israel Medical Center, and joining the faculty of Harvard Medical School.

In 2000 he was recruited by Brigham and Women's Hospital and in 2005 became the Chief Academic Officer of the Harvard Clinical Research Institute (HCRI). In 2006, he left clinical practice to become Executive Vice President and Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at Boston Scientific, the first of a series of clinicians to move to industry that year. At the time, Baim commented:

"I do not leave a lifetime career in academic medicine lightly, but I am convinced I can have a greater impact on the development of revolutionary health care technologies by becoming a member of the leadership team of what is now one of the world's largest medical device manufacturers."

Indeed, Baim walked into the most challenging period for manufacturers of drug-eluting stents, for that year the so-called "firestorm" of the 2006 European Congress of Cardiology erupted, calling into question the safety of drug-eluting stents and the increased incidence of late stent thrombosis with these devices. Dr. Baim and Boston Scientific very quickly made public their collected data which showed this slight increase, but Dr. Baim remained firm that this issue did not result in an increase in heart attack or death. Subsequent studies have shown this to be true, although the issues around late stent thrombosis are still being investigated.

Commenting on Dr. Baim, Boston Scientific CEO Ray Elliot said that Baim was "a pioneer in the development of interventional cardiology.... The many contributions he made to science, medicine and medical technology will serve as a proud and enduring legacy."

Memorial services are set for Monday in Canton, Mass.

Reported by Burt Cohen, November 7, 2009