Rose Marie Robertson, The American Heart Association

Rose Marie Robertson
Spearheading scientific innovation

Company: The American Heart Association
Title: Chief Scientific Officer

The American Heart Association (AHA) often weighs in on med tech, laying out guidelines to recommend tools that could improve outcomes for patients. In an unusual move for the organization, it recently teamed up with tech giant Alphabet ($GOOG), nee Google, to launch a research team focused on developing new technology for heart disease.

At the helm of these efforts is Rose Marie Robertson, the AHA's chief scientific officer. Since joining the organization in 2003, Robertson has overseen a variety of initiatives, lending her cardiology expertise to the AHA to form new guidelines and spur research.

Robertson got her M.D. from Harvard Medical School and then trained in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and in cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Since then, she has served on a slew of review and advisory committees, lending her cardiology know-how to the National Institutes of Health, the American College of Cardiology and the European Society of Cardiology. Robertson's work earned her the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Partner in Public Health Award in 2001.

Currently, Robertson works as a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she launched the Vanderbilt Women's Health Institute. Her research centers on autonomic cardiovascular control.

During her tenure at the AHA, Robertson has witnessed a sea change in device policy. But the organization is not taking a backseat to the action, participating instead at the forefront of regulation. Last year, Robertson testified at an FDA public meeting about gaps in research trials for medical device approval applications, advocating for more diversity in research.

"Sex, race and ethnicity and age play an important role in how heart disease, stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease affect us. These same factors can cause prescription drugs and medical devices to work differently in women and men, minorities and older people. Yet despite this understanding, women, minorities, and the elderly continue to be underrepresented in medical research studies," Robertson said at the time.

Earlier this year, the AHA issued a series of new guidelines, including ones recommending second-generation stent retrieval devices to treat acute ischemic stroke. The recommendation came as welcome news to Medtronic ($MDT) and Stryker ($SYK), which are developing related products that physically remove a clot.

With more med tech innovation on the horizon and a new partnership with Alphabet in tow, the AHA will have its work cut out for it in the coming year. But with Robertson leading the way, the organization can continue to carve out an influential niche within the industry.

-- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)

For more:
Google Life Sciences teams with AHA to target heart disease in $50M research initiative
American Heart Association guidelines encourage use of stent retrievers to treat stroke

Rose Marie Robertson, The American Heart Association