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Obituaries

Arthur J Moss: pioneered clinical research into long QT syndrome and sudden cardiac death

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k1457 (Published 05 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1457
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. Hamburg, Germany
  1. ns{at}europefn.de
Credit: University of Rochester Medical Center

Three months before his death at the age of 86, Arthur Moss received the last of his many honours, the American Heart Association’s James B Herrick award for outstanding achievement in clinical cardiology. The award was “in recognition of his wideranging scientific achievements elevating understanding of critical aspects of coronary disease.”

In presenting the award, Randal J Thomas, of the Mayo School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, noted that “very few individuals have made such enormous contributions to clinical cardiology as Arthur Moss.”

For more than 60 years Moss worked to better understand electrical disturbances of the heart, helping to pioneer significant discoveries in the treatment and prevention of cardiac arrhythmias, sudden cardiac death, heart failure, and long QT syndrome (LQTS), a rare inherited disorder of the heart’s electrical activity that can cause uncontrollable arrhythmias and can be fatal.

Master clinical trialist

In the early 1990s Moss founded the Multicenter Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial (known as MADIT)—which was not actually one but a series of trials over two decades, showing that use of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) significantly lowers the risk of death after heart attack. A key MADIT paper in 2002 helped change medical guidelines in the US and led to ICD use by millions of patients.1 Dozens of other MADIT papers have been published up to the current day.2

“Arthur Moss has left behind an amazing legacy,” cardiologist Jagmeet P Singh of Harvard Medical School told The BMJ. “He was the ‘master clinical trialist.’ He had a commanding presence, and one learnt so much by just being around him and seeing the way he conducted the large MADIT steering committee meetings. He had a unique talent for tapping into the strengths of his colleagues …

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