World-class mind

Angiolillo spins from DJ to research rock star

By Jesef Williams

Dominick Angiolillo, M.D., Ph.D., is again being recognized as one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.”

Angiolillo, a professor of medicine and director of cardiovascular research at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, was among 3,000 researchers from around the world spotlighted by Thomas Reuters for publishing the highest number of articles most frequently cited by fellow researchers in 2015. Those on the list are considered to have the greatest influence in their respective fields.

He was one of eight UF faculty — and the only one in the College of Medicine, both in Jacksonville and Gainesville — to receive the honor. This marks the second consecutive year he has been named to the list.

“Research is certainly one of my passions, and to know other researchers rely on some of my conclusions is humbling,” Angiolillo said. “It is quite challenging to always maintain high standards of published research, in terms of quality and quantity. This is a very competitive arena. Therefore, achieving this recognition for two consecutive years was a pleasant surprise.”

Angiolillo’s research has included studies on coronary artery disease and antiplatelet medications, which prevent blood clot formation. He has published more than 350 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has been cited more than 22,000 times. The “Scientific Minds” designation takes into account overall citations in the past 10 years.

His international recognition in cardiology has helped attract postdoctoral trainees from across the world to work in his research lab at UF Health Jacksonville. In 2013, he received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the European Society of Cardiology for his research. In 2015 and 2016, he received the Simon Dack Award for Outstanding Scholarship from the American College of Cardiology.

Angiolillo is furthering his research by performing genetic testing of stent-procedure patients at UF Health Jacksonville. The tests help determine if individual cardiovascular patients carry certain genes that make them less likely to metabolize clopidogrel, known as Plavix, a medication often prescribed to patients following the placement of coronary stents to reduce the risk of blood clots and heart attacks.

Long before his world-renowned cardiovascular research, Angiolillo worked as a DJ. He said he always loved exploring rhythms and tapping into the creativity that music fosters. However, his parents weren’t too happy about his decision.

“They thought the music business was getting too much to my head,” Angiolillo recalled. “I also agreed that there wasn’t much of a future being a DJ, so I decided to fully dedicate myself to my medical career.”

Angiolillo became fascinated with studying different types of heartbeats and rhythm strips on EKGs. He said that’s what propelled him into cardiology.

“My passion for research derives from my creativity in wanting to find new approaches to advance the way we treat heart disease,” Angiolillo said. “I simply apply what I do and learn from my clinical practice. I try to identify the problems and then think about alternative approaches to make things better.”

Angiolillo said it took a while to find success as a researcher because “changing certain paradigms” in medicine doesn’t happen without obstacles. He thanks his colleagues and staff members for their support through the years.

“Teamwork is key for any researcher,” he said. “I am just one member of a great team that is focused on improving patient care.”

What’s next?

Angiolillo wants to continue expanding his current line of research while also mentoring younger faculty and trainees. He believes one of the biggest challenges in medicine is training the next generation of academic cardiologists. He cites a lack of adequate support systems, including funding, as a chief hindrance.

“As an organization, we should not forget that academic medicine is a core part of our mission,” Angiolillo said. “I hope that in the future, we will find opportunities to engage more of the Jacksonville community to help support our mission.”

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