PIONEER IN HEART TRANSPLANTATION WHO TRANSFORMED CARE FOR PATIENTS WITH END-STAGE HEART DISEASE MOVING ON FROM NEWARK BETH ISRAEL MEDICAL CENTER
Dr. Mark Zucker, Director of Cardiothoracic Transplantation, Brought National Recognition and Praise for NBIMC’s Program
After devoting the past 31 years at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBIMC) to the care and management of heart failure, amyloid, and cardiac transplant patients from across New Jersey and the region, Mark Jay Zucker, MD, JD, FACC, FACP, FCCP, announced today that he will be leaving his position as the Director of the Heart Failure Treatment and Transplant Program at NBIMC to pursue new opportunities in the practice of medicine, cardiology, and advanced heart failure.
In 1989, Victor Parsonnet, MD, the former Chair of the Department of Surgery at NBIMC recruited Dr. Mark Jay Zucker, a transplant/heart failure cardiologist from Loyola University in Chicago to help develop and expand the institution’s newly created heart transplant program.
The first heart transplant at NBIMC performed under Dr. Zucker’s supervision was in February 1990. Twelve transplants were performed that year. Two years later Dr. Zucker introduced adult extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and mechanical circulatory support (VADs) to New Jersey, and in 1993, he started the state’s first lung transplantation program. Most recently, in the mid-2000s, Dr. Zucker started the state’s first Cardiac Amyloid Program.
“When my grandfathers founded Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, they envisioned a place that was dedicated to helping the local community: that spent every day working on how to improve the health of those who needed help the most. No one better exemplifies that commitment than Mark Zucker. His innovation, his work ethic and his time promoting Newark Beth Israel to others has been crucial in both building the reputation of the Medical Center and in the quality care that patients there receive. Mark is one of the best and I wish him well on his future endeavors,” said Dr. Parsonnet, the former chief of surgery at NBIMC and a member of the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
In 2010, under Dr. Zucker’s leadership, NBIMC was recognized by the Health Resources and Services Administration as one of only two programs in the country to have better than expected one-year transplant survival. Two years later, in 2012, the program was not only recognized as having among the best three-year survival rates in the nation but was also the second busiest program in the nation, by volume having performed 69 transplants that year.
From 2009 to 2016, the transplant program at NBIMC was consistently ranked among the top ten in the nation, by volume. In 2017, NBMIC performed its 1,000th heart transplant, a milestone that at the time had only been achieved by approximately a dozen U.S. medical centers. As the program grew, Dr. Zucker traveled across both the country and the world to give lectures on NBIMC’s programs and the positive impact they were having on the local Newark-area community. These lectures helped the program gain newfound fame and acclamation.
Although Dr. Zucker’s foresight and vision benefited the patients, institution, and transplant profession tremendously, he never lost sight of the program’s primary focus, with nearly half of all transplants between June 20, 2018 and June 30, 2019 being done for minority community members, several percentage points above the national average.
Over the years, Dr. Zucker’s commitment to the inner-city community was recognized and in 2004 he was awarded the Samuel Koontz Award generally given to African American health care providers. He has also been recognized by the American Heart Association, the American Hospital Association, and MD Advantage. In 2019, he was a NJBIZ 2019 Icon Award winner.
“When it comes to advanced cardiac technologies, Dr. Zucker has played a leading role in introducing them to New Jersey,” said R. Julie Cabaleiro, President of the NBIMC Medical Staff. “Most of these technologies were driven on a national level by cardiothoracic surgeons, who have praised Mark’s unique talent, foresight and leadership role in adopting these modalities into his field.”
“In the 22 plus years I have known and worked with Mark Zucker, I have seen how strong his relationships are with his patients,” said Joseph Roth, CEO of The Sharing Network. “I have seen his exceptional care for patients from disadvantaged and medically indigent populations, especially those of Newark. I consider Mark an outstanding cardiologist and patient advocate.”
In 2019, Dr. Zucker was the subject of a ProPublica expose in which a series of accusations (presented without context) were leveled against him and against the NBIMC Heart Transplant Program. Shortly after publication of the story, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the New Jersey Department of Health conducted extensive reviews. Those reviews have since been closed without reference to or implication of Dr. Zucker personally, nor any corroboration of the allegations against Dr. Zucker contained in the ProPublica story.
At no time was any adverse action taken against Dr. Zucker by anyone regarding his medical staff privileges at NBIMC or at any RWJBH affiliated facility or non-RWJBH facility.
“Newark Beth Israel Medical Center has always had a reputation for providing high quality care, state-of-the-art care and I am truly proud to have worked there for more than three decades, served the community with honor, and contributed substantially to that reputation,” said Dr. Zucker. “It is my hope that the program to which I dedicated my entire professional career will remain a destination for healthcare for years to come.”
About Dr. Mark Jay Zucker
Dr. Mark Zucker, board certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Disease, and Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology, attended McGill University in Montreal, completed medical school and postgraduate training at Northwestern University in Chicago, and then joined the faculty at Loyola University in 1987 as one of four attending transplant cardiologists. In 1969 he relocated to New Jersey and joined the faculty at New Jersey Medical School. In 2009, he was promoted to Clinical Professor of Medicine.
Dr. Zucker served as a Director of the original New Jersey affiliate of the American Heart Association (AHA) and was a founding member of the Heritage Affiliate of the AHA, for which he served on the Board of Directors from 1998 to 2000. He served as President/Governor of the New Jersey Chapter of the American College of Cardiology from 2006 to 2009. In addition, he has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the New Jersey Sharing Network for more than 15 years; served three times as the Thoracic Representative for the mid-Atlantic states, as Chair of the Heart Subcommittee, and as a member of the Membership and Professional Standards Committee for the United Network for Organ Sharing; and as the representative from the American College of Cardiology’s Board of Governors to the Subcommittee on Heart Failure and Transplantation. Additionally, he was a long-term member of the New Jersey Department of Health’s Cardiovascular Health Advisory Panel and was the Chair of the ABIM Cardiovascular Board Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology Exam Committee from 2017 to 2019.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Zucker has received numerous awards and accolades including:
- Multiple honors recognizing his achievements as a physician.
- Directorships with institutions and professional organizations.
- Organizational and public recognition from over 20 groups.
- Over 50 major assignments to hospital, national and regional committees
- Participating on seven medical advisory boards.
- Completed 85 NIH or pharmaceutical trials as a Principal and/or Co-Investigator.
- Published 79 peer reviewed papers, eight book chapters and monographs, and 97 abstracts.
- Featured as a selected speaker more than 25 times at national or regional meetings.
- Trained more than 20 other transplant clinicians now practicing at facilities such as the Cleveland Clinic, University of Pennsylvania, Tufts, etc…
About RWJBarnabas Health
RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering nine counties with five million people. The system includes eleven acute care hospitals; three acute care children’s hospitals and a leading pediatric rehabilitation hospital with a network of outpatient centers, a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, a medical group, multi-site imaging centers and an accountable care organization.
RWJBarnabas Health is New Jersey’s largest private employer – with more than 33,000 employees, 9,000 physicians and 1,000 residents and interns – and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health in partnership with Rutgers University is creating New Jersey’s largest academic health care system. This collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers’ education, research and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey – the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.