In paying back, Joe Hart pays it forward

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Joe Hart

For Joe Hart, MD, a larger donation to the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) Foundation this past year is helping him pay back several of his own scholarships and research opportunities from which he benefited.

“I’m someone who’s been fortunate to get scholarships,” he said of his undergraduate and medical school years. “I’m from a big family—I needed the help! So I try to pay things back where I can. I’ve always been involved, but I was able to do something more substantial this year.”

During medical school at Northwestern, he received funding for a research opportunity he feels helped him get started in the right direction. After fellowship, he won an award through the Marco Polo Program to go to Europe for six months for training, research and project work. Now he tries to impact the future of vascular patient care by helping fund research that will affect that care. He calls himself a “hybrid,” working primarily in a clinical practice but also still trying to keep his hand in when it comes to research. He spent six years trying to make it his full-time pursuit. But funding was an issue, as were the difficulties—as many researchers know—balancing research, clinical and patient needs.

Contributions to the SVS Foundation help researchers get that precious time they need to pursue projects to improve patient care, said Hart, currently an associate professor of surgery and radiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

“I know it’s difficult to get funding, I know it’s important. Grants help our people get more funding to keep up their research, without clinical practice getting in the way.”

Hart also gives his time, serving on both the SVS Foundation Board of Directors and the VISTA—Vascular Volunteers In Service To All—Steering Committee.

And after spending more than five years in a relatively rural setting in northern Maine, he also understands and appreciates some of the Foundation’s newer initiatives like VISTA, which is aimed at providing access to vascular care to under-served populations.

He encourages everyone to participate in the Foundation’s work, echoing the sentiments of other Foundation committee members. “Even in my mac-and-cheese days I gave a little,” he said. “And I’m glad I’m in a place in my life where I can do more. It seems like the right thing to do.”

The SVS Foundation has published its 2021 annual report. Read it at vascular.org/FoundationAnnualReport21.

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