James K. Liao, MD
James K. Liao, MD

Chief, Section of Cardiology

University of Chicago
Department of Medicine

Section Chief’s Welcome

The Section was founded in 1950 and has a proud history. We are now charting a new course that will propel us to the forefront of cardiovascular medicine. The strength of the section reflects the quality and dedication of its faculty, trainees and support staff and is enhanced by the rich environment at the University of Chicago.

Our Mission

Our tripartite mission is to achieve excellence in research, teaching and patient care. These goals are intrinsically linked, constituting a mutually reinforcing triad. We perform research at levels ranging from Molecules to Populations and strive to translate this research to improve our patients’ health and to advance the education of cardiovascular professionals. We are committed to being one of the nation’s top 10 cardiovascular training programs and to training the next generation of leaders in academic cardiology. It is our responsibility and privilege to provide timely, compassionate care to patients suffering from or with risk factors for heart and vascular disease, both in our own neighborhood and internationally.


The Section has a long-standing, successful, NIH-funded research-training program. The faculty includes NIH-funded Physician-Scientists as well as clinical trialists. Basic and Translational research programs include: Genetics of Cardiovascular Diseases, Atherosclerosis, Arrhythmias, Heart failure and Transplantation, Developmental Biology, Oxygen Sensing and Pulmonary Hypertension. We also have evolving programs in outcomes research and quality of care.


The Cardiology fellowship is a 4-year training program that attracts the best and brightest from across the country. We also have excellent subspecialty fellowships in electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, imaging and heart failure/transplantation. We are committed to providing our fellows with training and individualized mentorship to prepare them to be the future leaders in Academic medicine. This is accomplished through a strong curriculum, adequate protected time for research, close contact with the faculty, a rich conference program, and matching with a mentor. It is our goal that fellows prepare a research grant by the completion of their fellowship.


We currently have programs in Advanced Imaging, Electrophysiology, Heart Failure and Transplantation, Percutaneous valve and structural heart disease interventions, Vascular Medicine (including pulmonary hypertension) and Cardiovascular Genetics. A newly created multimodality imaging center directed by Cardiology offers CT, MR and echocardiography and provides great opportunities for research and training. This centre involves an important partnership with Radiology.

A Unique Environment

The unique University of Chicago environment benefits faculty, trainees and patients. Founded by J.D. Rockefeller in 1890, the University has had over 70 Nobel Laureates amongst its faculty, students and researchers. Cardiology is part of a vibrant Department of Medicine with a commitment to training Physician-Scientists, Performing Translational Research and delivering state of the art healthcare. We are part of a superb University. The Princeton Review ranked the University of Chicago as offering the best overall academic undergraduate experience in their 2007 ”Best 361 Colleges” rankings. The Pritzker School of Medicine is ranked in the top 10 in the country by the US News and World Report. Finally, the broader University community has a rich history and our compact campus facilitates collaboration across Departments.

A Bright Future

The section is in the process of transforming the manner in which cardiovascular care is delivered. This future includes the creation of a University of Chicago Heart and Vascular Institute. This transdepartmental, collaborative venture will create new programs for the delivery of care to heart and vascular patients and building a new facility. Thematic programs, to be run by multidisciplinary teams, will benefit patients, enhance research and education and reduce silos that plague traditional specialty-based practice. Our partners come from several departments and with them we will enhance existing programs and build new ones. Examples of proposed programs include: Cardiac Arrhythmia and Devices, Regenerative Medicine, Structural and Valvular Heart Disease, Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging, Women’s Heart Health, Vascular Medicine, Heart Failure and Transplantation, Preventative Cardiology-Risk Factor Reduction and Cardiac Rehabilitation. We are also launching a new arrhythmia program, using image fusion and a magnetically guided EP lab to enhance the safety and efficacy of ablation of arrhythmias, such as atrial fibrillation.

A New Home

We are building toward a new home University of Chicago Heart and Vascular Institute, which will include: Inpatient and outpatient facilities, physician offices, a multimodality imaging center, a digital classroom and a translational research center (with adjacency to basic science laboratories).