In 2022, UHF saluted Jennifer Mieres, MD, for her role as a leader in women’s health, in diversity, equity, and inclusion in health care, and in advancing heart care in the U.S. and around the world.
When Jennifer Mieres, MD, was a child of seven in Trinidad, her beloved grandfather died at age 67 of a heart attack. “I made a vow at his funeral that I would go into medicine and figure out how the heart works, so this doesn’t happen to other people,” she says.
Jennifer has more than fulfilled that vow. For three decades, she has worked tirelessly as an advocate for heart health, fighting to overcome gender disparities in the treatment of heart disease. She is an internationally recognized expert on the topic and in June 2022 was named Physician of the Year by the American Heart Association (AHA).
Her firm belief in the power of storytelling to create health literacy and empower women to take the steps needed on the journey to health and wellness has led her to author several books and produce documentaries.
She has also been a pioneer in integrating diversity and equity into medical practice. Jennifer is the first chief diversity and inclusion officer at Northwell, and senior vice president of Northwell’s Center for Equity of Care, where she provides guidance and oversight for Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity programs. She is also a member of Northwell’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health. Her newest book, Reigniting the Human Connection: A Pathway to Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity, co-written with Elizabeth C. McCulloch, PhD, and Michael P. Wright, EdD, provides a framework for embedding equity into the health care delivery system.
Underlying her entire career is a determination to empower patients to take charge of their own health, especially those too often disenfranchised by the medical establishment. “Health equity starts by treating patients as partners in their care,” she says.
She also believes in paying it forward. In 2014 Jennifer was honored with the Women in Cardiology mentoring award from the American College of Cardiology for her efforts to encourage women in cardiology, modeling the women who supported her own career. “I had to build a network of mentors and sponsors, a life raft of encouragement across all races, ethnicities, and genders to lift me up and provide guidance.”
One of the first members of that network was Alice Jacobs, MD, her professor at Boston University School of Medicine and a former AHA president. Dr. Jacobs encouraged Jennifer to become a cardiologist, a male-dominated field. After receiving her medical degree, she worked with Judith Hochman, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at NYU Langone Health and an internationally known clinical researcher. “She sparked my interest in clinical research on women and heart disease at a time when women were excluded from many cardiology studies.”
Jennifer specialized in cardiac imaging in nuclear cardiology and was the first female cardiologist at Northwell’s North Shore University Hospital. In 2009 she was named the first female president of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology. She focused both her research and clinical work on gender differences and disparities in cardiovascular disease.
She soon realized that the medical community had to do a better job of getting out the message that lifestyle changes can decrease heart disease risks. Some 20 years ago, Jennifer was invited to become a national spokesperson for the AHA’s Go Red for Women, a movement to increase awareness of heart disease in women; she has been a regular media presence ever since.
Jennifer’s success as a spokesperson reflects her awareness that scientific information must be distilled into words anyone can understand. That extends to the books she has authored, including the popular Heart Smart for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S In Six Weeks, co-written with Stacey Rosen, MD, and Lori Russo, JD, with simple-to-follow suggestions for improving cardiovascular health.
Recognizing that personal stories and strong visuals are a powerful way to grab the public’s attention, she has also co-produced four documentaries, including the Emmy-nominated “A Woman’s Heart.”
In 2010 Jennifer embraced yet another opportunity to address gender disparities in cardiology, joining the faculty of the newly formed Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, where she is a professor of Cardiology and Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs.
At Northwell, Jennifer is committed to finding ways to make diversity, equity, and inclusion an integral part of health care. She is actively involved in collaborations with community leaders to educate people on how to become partners in their own care. “We must find out what matters to our communities and co-create programs to promote health and wellness,” she says. “It is a monumental task, but I know that we are up to the challenge.”
For her role as a leader in women’s health, in diversity, equity, and inclusion in health care, and in advancing heart care in the U.S. and around the world, United Hospital Fund is proud to award Jennifer Mieres, MD, our 2022 Special Tribute.