UNC Health Talk

Dedication of the UNC McAllister Heart Institute marks new era in heart research

Media contact: Stephanie Crayton, (919) 966-2860, scrayton@unch.unc.edu

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009

CHAPEL HILL – Hugh “Chip” McAllister, M.D., an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, has made a three-part gift to establish the UNC McAllister Heart Institute.

An official ceremony celebrating the gift was held today (Nov. 4, 2009) at UNC.

Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, UNC’s chief of cardiology and director of the Institute, says the McAllister gift, which formally changes the name of the Carolina Cardiovascular Biology Center, acknowledges the excellence in research and clinical care at UNC and will help the program expand its depth and breadth.

“Dr. McAllister’s generosity will allow our faculty to stretch themselves, to push the edge of cardiovascular research. This is truly a transformative event for UNC and for our state,” Patterson says.

“I want to support young scientists, the best in the country, in their work to understand cardiovascular disease,” McAllister says. “The mysteries of this disease will not be solved quickly, and so I want my gift to help further this research even after I’m gone.”

McAllister has given $7 million to date in outright gifts and other commitments. In addition, he has provided for the Institute in his will and made provisions for its support through his personal foundation, which will benefit the Institute for years afterward.

Cardiovascular diseases are the most common causes of death and disability in the state of North Carolina and in the United States as a whole. The mission of the UNC McAllister Heart Institute is to advance the care of patients with diseases of the heart, blood and circulation by encouraging basic, preclinical, and applied research to unravel the causes of cardiovascular disease and to provide new tools for diagnosis and treatment of patients in North Carolina and beyond.

Research programs in the Institute are organized within the center in the areas of cardiovascular physiology, cell biology and vascular development, thrombosis and hemostasis, clinical trials and translational research. There are 19 faculty laboratories, and a benefit of the McAllister gift will be the ability to attract even more world-class talent.

McAllister earned his medical degree at UNC in 1966. From then until his retirement, he built a lengthy career as a highly respected and highly accomplished leader in cardiovascular pathology.

He retired from active practice in 2000, after serving for 16 years as the founding chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Pathology at the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston. This followed his equally distinguished career in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, where he served for 13 years as chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C., from 1971 to 1984.

McAllister’s roots at the UNC School of Medicine run deep. His father, Hugh A. McAllister Sr., M.D., earned his Certificate of Medicine at UNC in 1935. McAllister Sr. practiced obstetrics and gynecology in his hometown of Lumberton, N.C. for four decades before his death in 1978. He was honored with the School of Medicine’s Distinguished Service Award in 1963, while his son was working towards his medical degree at UNC.

Chip McAllister’s professional accomplishments are too numerous to provide a comprehensive listing here. Some of the more noteworthy items include:

  • An impressive record of scholarly publications, including four textbooks and 39 chapters in other medical books
  • An exhaustive atlas he compiled with co-author Dr. John Fenoglio in 1978, titled Tumors of the Cardiovascular System, which has been described as “a recognized classic in medical literature” and “a work of enduring usefulness”
  • The Legion of Merit of the United States of America in 1984 and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Society for Cardiovascular Pathology in 2001 and many, many others.

McAllister is the current president of the UNC Medical Alumni Association, a member of the UNC Board of Visitors and an executive committee member of the Medical Foundation of North Carolina.