Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center

C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC, FAHA

C. Noel Bairey Merz, MD, FACC, FAHA, FESC
Director, Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center

Dr. Bairey Merz is the Irwin and Sheila Allen Trust Chair in Women’s Health Research.

Leading change in women’s heart care and research

My personal mission: We are 50 years behind in our knowledge about optimal screening, diagnosis, and treatment regimens for heart disease in women compared to what we know about heart disease in men; and every day, women pay the price. I am dedicated to closing this unacceptable knowledge gap—through research, through the care we provide, and through programs that teach women and healthcare providers about heart health.

My goals for the Center: I am creating a permanent force for discovery and change. We don't know what the breakthroughs will look like for women's hearts in the next 40 years, but we know the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center must be here for those advances to happen.

My research: The research we conduct is leading to “in-the-clinic” solutions for patients. We have broken ground in several areas: providing better treatment for women who have chest pain but no visible artery blockage, examining the relationship between low estrogen levels and heart disease in premenopausal women, and using enrollment registries to encourage more women to participate in clinical trials.

Our ongoing research focuses on such high-impact areas as early detection and monitoring, including the use of MRI technology; treatments for often-undetected small artery dysfunction; the identification of gender-specific genes and proteins that reduce or increase the risk of heart disease; clinical trials of promising new drugs and therapies; and the use of female stem cells, which naturally circulate in women’s blood streams, to repair the heart and reverse heart disease—in both women and men.

Why the Center is the place to invest: We are the only heart center for women with strengths in clinical care, education, and research. My message is: If you are a woman in a position of influence, this is your chance to make a difference. For generations, women of resources, energy, and talent have stepped forward. That includes the suffragettes who won the vote and women medical pioneers. Shouldn't we apply that same dedication to our own hearts?

What I do for my heart: When I can't work out, I take the stairs to my office—nine floors up, several times daily. I've seen the damage a sedentary lifestyle can do to your heart. It isn't pretty.