Arthur H. Aufses, Jr. MD Archives Blog

New Exhibit: At the Heart of It All

How did Mount Sinai become a global leader in cardiovascular care and research?

While we can cite many firsts, such as the first use of an electrocardiograph machine in the United States at The Mount Sinai Hospital in 1909, generations of our pioneering health care professionals have played pivotal roles in advancing our knowledge of cardiovascular disease, leading to the development of life-saving interventions and treatments.

In October 2023, Mount Sinai Heart was renamed Mount Sinai Fuster Heart Hospital, in honor of Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, who is its President and the Physician-in-Chief of The Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Fuster has led our progress in cardiology for 41 years, and his commitment to education, research, and discovery has influenced cardiovascular care worldwide. In recognition, The Arthur H. Aufses, Jr., MD Archives staff has researched and assembled an exhibit in the Annenberg lobby showcasing some of Mount Sinai’s historic contributions that revolutionized the way we understand and treat heart conditions. The below all pertain to the Mount Sinai Hospital.


First electrocardiograph machine acquired for use at Mount Sinai Hospital by Alfred Cohn, a pupil of Sir Thomas Lewis. This is cited as the first use of an EKG machine in United States. Specialty of cardiology begins to develop at MSH, and by 1927, 13,000 EKGs had been performed here.


The Mount Sinai Hospital established one of the first electrocardiography departments in the country under the direction of Dr. Bernard S. Oppenheimer. Doctors previously had only learned the techniques while training in Europe. The hospital’s wards were wired for connection to EKG. In 1917, Dr. Oppenheimer was awarded an American Medical Association gold medal for an exhibit on electrocardiographic changes associated with myocardial infarction (heart attack).

One of Mount Sinai’s giants was Dr. Emanuel Libman. His skills as an internist were renowned— Albert Einstein said he had ‘‘secret-divining eyes.’’ Dr. Libman started as an intern at Mount Sinai Hospital from 1894-1896 and then studied bacteriology and pathology in renowned clinics in Berlin, Vienna, and Munich. In 1897, he published his description of Streptococcus enteritis (later named Streptococcus Libman), which causes focal infection of the intestine. In 1904, Libman, using a gift from Trustee Adolf Lewisohn to build a laboratory building at Mount Sinai Hospital, established a separate department of bacteriology and serology. He went on to study meningococci, streptococci, and Bacillus pyocyaneus, known today as pseudomonas aeruginosa, and became an outstanding bacteriologist. His use of blood cultures to diagnose disease was another major contribution. His seminal work, published in 1910, dealt with the pathogenesis of subacute bacterial endocarditis, which he elucidated through bacteriologic, pathologic, and clinical studies. He introduced the terms “acute” and “subacute” and called attention to the color of the skin and many other clinical features of bacterial endocarditis. In 1924, along with his student, Dr. Benjamin Sacks, Libman first described Libman-Sacks endocarditis (LSE). Widely venerated for his teaching and introduction of clinical conferences in 1905 (known today at Grand Rounds), he worked at Mount Sinai from 1898 until his death in 1946.

So numerous, original, comprehensive and important have been the studies of the heart emanating from the wards and laboratories of Mount Sinai Hospital that I think one can correctly speak of the Mount Sinai school of cardiologists, of which [Emanuel] Libman was the founder and guiding spirit
– William H. Welch (1850-1934)


Dr. Arthur M. Master devised the prototype for today’s cardiac stress test, the “Master Two-Step”. This was the first exercise test to be standardized for the weight, height, and sex of the patient and evaluated the function of the heart through blood pressure and pulse rate measurements taken before and after exercise. Along with the work of Dr. Simon Dack, this ended an era when total bed rest was prescribed for cardiac cases, noting that lowered caloric intake and moderate exercise are beneficial, while total rest is harmful.

In 1934 Dr. W. Harold Branch joined the Mount Sinai Hospital as a volunteer physician. Dr. Branch was a research member of the special cardiac clinic from 1934 to 1950, where he eventually became Senior Clinical Assistant. From New Jersey, he attended Lincoln University (1920), Howard University Medical School (1928), New York University, Columbia University, and Dr. Branch observed and documented acute coronary occlusion in African Americans, which challenged existing theory on that subject. In 1937, he published an article about a case of sudden simultaneous bilateral embolism of the popliteal arteries, which in 2022 was still considered a “rare diagnosis.” On being elected to membership in the American Heart Association, the New York Times quoted him, saying he “believed he is the only Negro member of the group,” making him the first Black man to be a member. He worked at many hospitals in the metro area until his death.


Cardiovascular Research Group formed as an interdepartmental entity under the direction of Dr. Marcy Sussman. Some of the earliest studies of angiography and congenital heart disease are performed. The group included the Hospital’s cardiographers and its other experts in various aspects of the physiology and pathology of the heart. Out of their work came two new developments. The first, on the scientific side, was a detailed study of the lesions in congenital heart disease, for which several new techniques and instruments were devised. The second grew out of the realization of the practical advantages of the pooled knowledge of the group as a unit, as well as their special equipment and their skill in using it. Other members of the Medical Staff, confronted by the extremely difficult technical problems involved in diagnosis and treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease, either as the main problem or as a complication in other illnesses, began referring such patients to the group. Also in 1947, the cardiac catheterization laboratory was established.

While these machines may look bulky and outdated, they were the cutting-edge technology in their day. Keeping pace with the latest and most efficient equipment remains critical to providing the best patient care. Used in the early days of pioneering cardiac treatments, these were used to perform angioplasties, open heart surgery, radionuclide stress tests, pacemaker interpretation, among others. This group of pictures span from the 1950s to the 2000s.


Cardiology was established as a division within the Department of Medicine. Dr. Charles K. Friedberg was appointed Chief. 

Also in 1956, a separate residency was established for Cardiology–Nanette Kass Wenger, MD was appointed the first resident, hence also Chief Resident. She was among the first physicians to focus on coronary heart disease in women and to evaluate the different risk factors and features of the condition across genders. In 1958, she moved to Atlanta to become a senior resident in medicine at Emory University. Dr. Wenger conducted her clinical practice at Grady Memorial Hospital and was named director of cardiac clinics and director of the ambulatory electrocardiography laboratory in the 1960s. In 1971 she was appointed full professor of medicine, and in 1998 she became the chief of cardiology. Dr. Wenger has authored and co-authored more than 1,600 scientific and review articles and book chapters. Dedicated to her professional organizations, she was also a founder of the Society of Geriatric Cardiology. She received numerous awards, and in 2004 Dr. Wenger received the Gold Heart Award, the highest award of the American Heart Association.


Mount Sinai Hospital’s Simon Dack, MD, became the first editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology and developed it over 25 years into one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals. In 1988, the journal became the official Journal of the American College of Cardiology, with Dr. Dack remaining as editor-in-chief.

1950s-1970s Research

Considerable research was performed in the Division of Cardiology. This included projects in heart failure, (Richard Lasser), cardiogenic shock (Leslie Kuhn), computerized ECGs, (Leon Pordy), heart block (William Stein), vectorcardiography (Arthur Grishman), hemodynamics (Howard Moscovitz and Alvin Gordon), echocardiography laboratory (Louis E. Teichholz). Additionally, Ephraim Donoso was cited as an outstanding clinical teacher.

“Mrs. Bel Scher, supervisor of cardiology at Mount Sinai Hospital, has worked at her profession for fifteen years. She trained at one hospital, then worked at several others, even setting up a department of neurology at one of them. Posing as the patient is Miss Dorothy Rucker, who is a technician in the ECG department. In 1967 the average age of the 28 million working women in the U.S. was 41 years.”

1969: Drs. Pordy and Chesky, go over a visitor’s cardiogram they have just taken, while Teodorina Bello, technician, makes a log entry. After running 172 EKG tests on physicians who visited the Mount Sinai booth, Dr. Pordy comes to the conclusion that many doctors should see a doctor.


Valentín Fuster, MD, PhD was recruited from the Mayo Clinic to serve as the Chief of Cardiology. Dr. Fuster was already well known for his research on the relationship between platelet function and atherosclerosis, which helped unify researchers in these areas.

Mount Sinai Hospital Annual Report, 1983

Mount Sinai Health System Milestones for 2024

With a new year upon us, we recognize Mount Sinai’s historical milestones. It grounds us in the knowledge that our predecessors’ relentless efforts resulted in discoveries of what was once thought beyond medicine or science. The achievements of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Mount Sinai Health System throughout our histories inspire our work to greater heights.

Compiled by J.E. Molly Seegers, Michala Biondi, and Stefana Breitwieser

1824 – 200 years ago

The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary created its Otology Service, the first in the U.S.

1859 – 165 years ago

The Uterine Service (later renamed the Gynecology Service) was formed at Roosevelt Hospital, the first specialty service outside of the Medical and Surgical departments.

1874 – 150 years ago

New York Eye and Ear Infirmary surgeons began charting detailed accounts of their cases (already customary in Europe).

1884 – 140 years ago

The Mount Sinai Hospital Board of Directors approved the creation of “Outdoor Visiting Physicians” which became the District Medical Service. 111 years later in 1995, the Mount Sinai Visiting Doctors Program took up this mantle by providing care to adults who are unable to leave their homes.

1889 – 135 years ago

On December 1st, the Beth Israel Hospital was formed at the founding meeting of the Beth Israel Hospital Association held at 165 East Broadway. Beth Israel’s first physical location, a dispensary, opened in May 1891 between Henry Street and Madison Street, just underneath the Manhattan Bridge.

Daniel Guggenheim, one of seven sons of Meyer Guggenheim, became a Trustee of Mount Sinai Hospital, beginning a family relationship with the institution that persists today.

1899 – 125 years ago

As a result of the rigorous scientific environment, and so that their work would be “utilized in the interest of medical science and art,” Mount Sinai Hospital began publishing special reports describing various studies, statistics, and case summaries. The first volume was 347 pages.

Mount Sinai Hospital purchased four lots on the Southwest corner of Madison Ave and 101st St to build our third and current location. The cost was $140,000.

Roosevelt Hospital opened The Ward for Sick Children in the Accident building at W. 58th St. and Ninth Avenue. Abraham Jacobi, MD, widely known as the “Father of American pediatrics,” originally assumes charge of the ward. He had been on the staff of the Mount Sinai Hospital since 1860.

The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary’s Board of Directors created a Post-Graduate School for Nurses.

St. Luke’s Hospital established a policy of accepting tuberculosis patients. At the time, patients with “incurable” diseases were not accepted in most hospitals.

The pathology museum was founded at Mount Sinai Hospital.

1909 – 115 years ago

Nettie Shapiro, MD joined the house staff at Beth Israel Hospital, the first female member.

1924 – 100 years ago

All Mount Sinai Hospital

  • The Occupational Therapy Department was inaugurated, primarily for outpatient “mental cases.” Separately, a Therapeutic Kindergarten began, akin to today’s pediatric group therapy. Both began under the Social Service Auxiliary.
  • Annual Report stated, “intimate contact between the wards of the Hospital and the laboratories exists by virtue of the fact that a large number of the Attending Staff are permanent laboratory associates and assistants.”
  • Physicians emphasized “one of the most important developments of modern medicine is the study of end results”; requested unified medical records and “a much more elaborate social service organization” to tabulate and analyze. Foretelling the importance of data science.
  • Insulin was first administered for diabetes treatment. Recently introduced radium treatments numbered 2,798.
  • The Physiological Chemistry department furnished a trained assistant to take charge of a laboratory recently opened in the pediatric department. This was the first instance of a special research laboratory in one of Mount Sinai Hospital’s clinical departments.
  • Gertrude Felshin, MD joined the House Staff. For the next 39 years, she simultaneously held appointments in Pediatrics and Gynecology, as well as working as a Research Assistant in several laboratories: Endocrinology, Chemistry, and Pediatrics. Her work bridged the gap before there were obstetrics or reproductive science services.
  • A radiographic museum was created for teaching and studying roentgenograms (x-rays).
  • Statistics for the year:
    • 22,407 total patients treated in Hospital and Emergency Ward
    • 5,837 major surgical operations
    • 181,505 consultations in Out-Patient Department

1939 – 85 years ago

St. Luke’s Hospital established the position of Director of Religious Activities. The department was said to have been a model for planning hospital religious departments throughout the country.

1949 – 75 years ago

Mount Sinai Hospital’s Psychiatry Department established an adolescent clinic.

A new clinic to treat congenital heart disease was created at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Roosevelt Hospital established its Division of Psychiatry. New York State invited the Hospital to participate in its Psychiatric Pilot Plan which assigned a psychiatrist to each medical, surgical and specialty division in the hospital and out-patient services for support.

The Poliomyelitis service inaugurated at St. Luke’s Hospital. When NYC’s two contagious diseases hospitals were overwhelmed with patients, St. Luke’s—unique among the city’s voluntary hospitals—accepted and treated the overflow.

1974 – 50 years ago

Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Adolescent Health Center (AHC) was officially opened at 19 E. 101st St as all adolescent services were centralized in one building. It was the largest comprehensive care facility for adolescents in the country.

Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Medical Board amended the by-laws to provide full board membership for the Director of Nursing and the Director of Social Work. Thereby the first women on the Board were Dr. Gail Kuhn Weissman, Director of Nursing, and Dr. Helen Rehr, Director of Social Work.

Division of Neonatology was created by Farrokh Shahrivar, MD at St. Luke’s Hospital.

A private nurse-midwife practice opened at Roosevelt Hospital, ten years after the general nurse-midwife practice was instituted.

St. Luke’s Hospital’s Palliative Care Program was established for terminally ill patients, the majority of whom were cancer patients and later AIDS patients.

St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing held its last graduation and closed. During its more than eighty years of existence, over 4,000 women, and a few men, graduated.

1984 – 40 years ago

The Kathryn and Gilbert Miller Health Care Institute for Performing Artists opened at Roosevelt Hospital.

Beth Israel Medical Center created a geriatric psychiatry inpatient program. The New York Eye Trauma Center opened at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. Both were the first of their kind in New York City.

The Beth Israel School of Nursing was renamed the Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing after Seymour Phillips, a member of the School’s Board of Trustees for more than forty years. Members of the Phillips family remain on the Board today.

1989 – 35 years ago

The Peter Krueger Clinic for the Treatment of Immunological Disorders at Beth Israel Medical Center was dedicated on First Ave by Trustee Harvey and Connie Krueger in memory of their son, Peter.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine students first used simulated patients to test clinical practice skills. The School soon received a gift to establish the Charles C., Marietta and Charles A. Morchand Center.

First woman chairman at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Brenda Shank, MD, Ph.D. was appointed Chairman of Radiotherapy; she changed the department’s name to Radiation Oncology.

In cooperation with The Tokio Marine and Fire Insurance Co. Ltd., Beth Israel Medical Center established a medical service dedicated to Japanese citizens and tourists in the metropolitan area; it included “a bilingual, multidisciplinary medical practice” and was “modeled after Japanese medical protocols” that emphasize preventive medicine and extensive annual examinations.

Both Beth Israel and Mount Sinai were designated as AIDS centers.

1994 – 30 years ago

The Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine became operational when Sheldon Jacobson, MD was appointed founding Chairman.

St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center opened The Theodore B. Van Itallie Center for Nutrition and Weight Management under the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition.

Lawrence S. Phillips donated $5 million to name the Zeckendorf Towers’ facility Philips Ambulatory Care Center. The gift commemorated their four generations of service to the Beth Israel Medical Center.

1999 – 25 years ago

Mount Sinai Medical Center purchased Western Queens Community Hospital (formerly Astoria General) for $40 million. With 235 beds, it was renamed The Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens.

Mount Sinai’s Dermatology Department founded the Skin of Color Center, the first of its kind, to focus on the numerous skin conditions which disproportionately affect people of color or require special evaluation techniques and treatments.

The Mount Sinai Medical School’s Department of Preventive Medicine, With the support of the Pew Charitable Trust, established the Center for Children’s Health and the Environment was the “nation’s first academic research and policy center established to examine the links between childhood illness and exposure to toxic pollutants.”

Mount Sinai’s Multidisciplinary Minimally Invasive Surgery Center opened with six operating rooms.

2004 – 20 Years Ago

The East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership (EHHOP) clinic was created by Mount Sinai School of Medicine students. The goal was to provide high quality primary and preventative health care at no cost to uninsured residents of East Harlem.

The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary opened the Jorge N. Buxton, MD, Microsurgical Education Center.

2009 – 15 years ago

Roosevelt Hospital’s Headache Institute launched an Adolescent Headache Medicine Program to provide appropriate diagnosis and care for children suffering from migraines.

St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center’s Division of Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine and the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine opened the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Maintenance Program.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center re-designated Mount Sinai Hospital as a Magnet Award winning hospital, in recognition of superior nursing performance. It was the first full-service New York hospital to be re-designated.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine received a Clinical and Translational Research Award (CTSA) for $34.6 million. Research was conducted under a new centralized, multi- and interdisciplinary structure known as the Mount Sinai Institutes for Clinical and Translational Sciences (now ConduITS).

New York Eye and Ear Infirmary’s Facial Paralysis Rehabilitation Center opened.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Ph.D. program in Clinical Research enrolled its first students. The master’s program was already ongoing.

2014 – 10 years ago

Mount Sinai West and the Mount Sinai Health System created the Kidney Stone Center offering minimally invasive treatment techniques and a holistic approach to prevention, the first such center in New York City.

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) held its inaugural meeting.

New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai was the first in the United States to perform a series of autologous temporalis fascia transplants to the vocal fold to restore patients’ voices.

2019 – 5 years ago

Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and Mount Sinai West announced the creation of a new inpatient Addiction Consultation and Evaluation Service (ACES).

SafetyNet, an electronic adverse event reporting system, launched across the Mount Sinai Health System.

Dean Charney announced the creation of a Center for Biomedical and Population Health Informatics, which was co-sponsored by the Department of Population Health Science and Policy and the Scientific Computing group.

Mount Sinai Health System kicked off the Diversity Innovation Hub to address social determinants of health and representation of women and minorities in health care.

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai started the Institute for Transformative Clinical Trials to provide translational and clinical researchers throughout the Health System with the interdisciplinary expertise to design, conduct, and analyze innovative clinical trials.

A new research center, The Lipschultz Center for Cognitive Neuroscience within the Nash Family Department of Neuroscience and The Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, was created to focus on understanding the neural mechanisms of higher cognitive function and apply this knowledge to the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of cognitive function in humans.