Zile honored with state's highest research award

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Sept. 21, 2020) - Distinguished cardiologist, Michael Robert Zile, M.D., has received the 2020 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Science, the state’s highest honor for research. Zile serves as the Charles Ezra Daniel Professor of Medicine at MUSC and chief of the Division of Cardiology at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. He is recognized internationally as a heart failure clinician and scientist and renowned for his seminal contributions to heart failure basic, translational and clinical research and heart failure clinical practice. In each of these fields, he has discoveries and clinical observations that inform the practice of heart failure worldwide.

The Governor's Award for Excellence in Science was established in 1985 and honors those whose achievements in and contributions to science in South Carolina merit special recognition. The award also serves to promote wider awareness of the superior quality and extent to which scientific activity is ongoing throughout South Carolina. Ordinarily, the governor would present the award to the recipient in person at the South Carolina Statehouse, but due to precautions surrounding coronavirus, the decision was made instead to host a small reception on Sept. 4, at MUSC, in Zile’s honor to celebrate his achievement. 

Gov. Henry D. McMaster offered his sincerest congratulations to Zile via a prerecorded message once Kathleen Brady, M.D., Ph.D., vice president of research, and Christopher Davies, Ph.D., assistant provost for research, had presented Zile with his award for excellence.

“I am happy to have this opportunity to add my congratulations, on behalf of 5 million proud, happy South Carolinians for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Science, to you for your great achievements,” the governor said to Zile. “This kind of study and achievement and research is particularly relevant today, when we think of the COVID virus and all of the things that entails. So, I want to thank you. I want to congratulate you today. Your work is truly making South Carolina ‘Brain Power USA.’ We’re getting stronger and stronger, and I urge you to keep it up.”

Brady also shared her high praise for Zile’s accomplishments. “Dr. Zile is truly a ‘triple threat’ academician. He is an excellent clinician, an exemplary teacher and mentor and an internationally recognized heart failure researcher. The state of South Carolina has benefited from these talents for over 30 years, and we are extremely fortunate to have him as part of the MUSC family.”

Zile’s achievement places him in very good company at MUSC, as several faculty members before him were recognized for their contributions to research and scholarship, earning them the award. Recent past recipients include Brady (2019); Judy Dubno, Ph.D., (2018); Dean Kilpatrick, Ph.D., and Michael Schmidt, Ph.D., (2017); Perry Halushka, M.D., Ph.D., and Matthew Carpenter (2015); and Rosalie Crouch, Ph.D., (2013).

Davies, who serves on the governor’s award committee, expressed the degree to which members were impressed with the depth of Zile’s experience and contributions. 

“The caliber of nominations to the Governor’s Award Committee is always exceptional, but I distinctly recall how the committee was blown away with Dr. Zile’s nomination. It stood out due to his prolific publication output, his sustained funding from major funding agencies and, especially, how he genuinely translates knowledge into new therapeutic interventions for heart failure. One can only begin to guess how many patients’ lives have been saved through Dr. Zile’s research and clinical practice.”

Zile’s list of accomplishments, as Davies pointed out, is nothing short of prolific. He has published more than 350 original peer-reviewed manuscripts. An international expert in the field of heart failure with a preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), Zile has made substantial contributions to the understanding of the basic pathophysiology of HFpEF and the clinical identification of these patients. Most recently, he has been engaged in translating these concepts into clinical trials that are designed to improve the outcomes of patients that suffer with this condition. His work is critically important to the state and nation’s health care systems.

Zile’s leadership in clinical trial and international patient care registries has yielded critical insights into Chagas disease and the changing incidence of sudden cardiac death in heart failure in the current era, helping to define more precisely the role of implantable hemodynamic monitoring devices in chronic heart failure. As a multicenter trial investigator, he has had a leadership role in 48 clinical trials.

Zile has been an invited member of 16 study sections, including the important National Institutes of Health Heart Failure Network Protocol Review Committee and Data and Safety Monitoring board. He currently sits on the editorial boards of seven cardiology journals, including Circulation and Circulation Heart Failure. He has been an ad hoc reviewer for the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific meetings on a nearly annual basis. To date, he has published 318 original research studies, 25 reviews and six editorials in peer-reviewed journals.

Zile has received multiple awards for his contributions throughout his career. He was the recipient of the Faculty Teaching Award at Tufts University in 1987 and MUSC Peggy Schachte Research Mentor Award in 2015. He was invited to serve as a member of the prestigious American Board of Internal Medicine board of directors from 2007 until 2011. From 2011 until 2013, he was a member of the ABIM Task Force on Governance. In 2019, he was awarded the highest award in the Veteran Affairs system for achievement in biomedical research: the Department of Veterans Affairs Middleton Award, which honors the most accomplished biomedical investigators in the Department of Veterans Affairs in the United States.


About the Medical University of South Carolina

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The state’s leader in obtaining biomedical research funds, MUSC brought in more than $284 million in fiscal year 2019.

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.

MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of more than $3.2 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.