Joseph D. Babb, MD, MSCAI | SCAI

After five decades as a devoted physician and luminary in the field of interventional cardiology, Joseph Babb, MD, MSCAI has passed at the age of 79.

The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) is saddened to learn of the passing of Joseph D. Babb, MD, MSCAI. Dr. Babb was president of SCAI from 2001–2002 and practiced medicine at East Carolina Heart Institute at East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, North Carolina, where he also served as a Clinical Professor in the Division of Cardiology.

“Joe Babb was literally the best of the best. The best doctor and the best patient advocate I've ever known,” said Norm Linsky, SCAI’s executive director from 2001–2015.  "He represented SCAI on the advocacy front for many years and truly understood the intricacies of healthcare policy. When he spoke, he commanded the respect of everyone in the room.  He knew that he was not advocating for doctors, rather for patient care, patients’ access to care, and a physician’s ability to do what is right for their patients.”

Dr. Babb’s career in cardiology began after graduating John Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore Maryland in 1966. He completed an internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

A veteran, Dr. Babb served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, serving in Vietnam and at Walter Reed Hospital, followed by an Interventional Cardiology Fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School). He then served as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Cardiologist at The Pennsylvania State University Hershey Medical Center in 1972.

After a course with Dr. Andreas Gruentzig in Zurich, Switzerland, Babb conducted the first coronary angioplasty at Hershey in 1981. He also performed the first coronary angioplasty in the state of Connecticut upon embracing his role as Chief of Cardiology at The Bridgeport Hospital.

Dr. Babb joined The East Carolina University School of Medicine in 1995 as Professor of Medicine and Cardiologist. He also served as the Program Director for the Cardiovascular Diseases Fellowship and the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship, and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine.

"Joe was truly one of the most genuine and passionate interventionalists to ever serve as SCAI President. His dedication to SCAI as a leader in establishing our advocacy role at the state and federal level was matched by his continued commitment as an educator at multiple meetings while maintaining a busy clinical practice. He spearheaded our Ethics Committee at a time we needed to be sure interventionalists understood accountability and being sure we were doing the right procedure for our patients”, says SCAI President for 2018–2019, David A. Cox, MD, MSCAI.

A devoted member to SCAI for many decades, he headed the Society’s Continuing Medical Education Committee, spearheading its effort to earn accreditation status for the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and developing guidelines for SCAI educational programs. Dr. Babb set the bar high, insisting that all SCAI-branded education must be unbiased, objective, clear, and useful to practicing physicians.

During his term as president, he oversaw an enormously successful effort to expand the membership of the Society internationally. Says Linsky, “He made SCAI what it is today. A truly global society.” He brought together representatives of all the international medical societies focused on interventional cardiology, launching a “cardiology roundtable” that addressed the common, overriding concerns that affect interventional cardiologists and their patients, regardless of where they practice.

In the years after his presidency, Dr. Babb remained a dedicated volunteer and served as chair of the SCAI Advocacy Committee. He became an expert on regulatory and legislative issues of relevance to invasive/interventional cardiologists and their patients and represented SCAI numerous times in meetings with policymakers at the highest levels of government.

Dr. Babb was a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and a Fellow of the Council for Clinical Cardiology of the American Heart Association. This year, he was named the ‘Patient Preferred Interventional Cardiologist’ in the state of North Carolina.

Among the many awards bestowed to Dr. Babb, he received the Distinguished Service Award of the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (2005) and was elected by his colleagues a Master of the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (MSCAI) in 2014.

Says President Cox, “No one who ever met Joe failed to come away without knowing his warmth and genuine interest. Joe will be truly missed as a teacher, past SCAI president, forward thinker, and most of all, as a friend who always wanted to help us push SCAI forward."