Ulrich Sigwart was born in Wuppertal, Germany in 1941. He received his medical education in Freiberg, Germany, and in Basel, Switzerland, and completed his residency at Union Hospital in Framington, MA and fellowship in cardiology at Baylor Medical College in Houston, TX, USA. He returned to Europe in 1973 for further training at the University Hospital in Zurich and obtained habilitation from Düsseldorf, Germany. He served in different hospitals in the United States and Britain and was Director of the Department of Invasive Cardiology at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London for 12 years before moving to the University of Geneva, where he became Professor and Chief of the Cardiology Center in the Department of Internal Medicine. He is currently Emeritus Professor at the University of Geneva, a recognized teacher at the Imperial College of Medicine in London and Professor of Medicine at the University of Düsseldorf.
Professor Sigwart is a pioneer of interventional cardiology. He is credited for conceiving and realizing endoluminal stenting, a non-surgical approach involving the insertion, through a balloon catheter, of a small metal scaffold (stent) into a blocked artery to hold it open. He was the first to successfully place coronary stents into coronary heart disease patients at the University Hospital in Lausanne in 1986. Stenting had since dramatically changed the approach to the treatment of coronary and extra-coronary arterial disease worldwide. Professor Sigwart’s creative spirit had also led him to develop pharmacologic septal ablation, another novel non-surgical technique for percutaneous treatment of patients suffering from hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy – a heart disease which causes abnormal enlargement of the septum that separates the heart ventricles, thus impeding the flow of blood from the heart to the body. In the ablation technique, a pharmacologically induced infarction is selectively produced in the septum to reduce its enlargement, with consequent physiologic and clinical benefits to the patient. In addition to these major innovations, Professor Sigwart’s work on automation of cardiac catheterization contributed significantly to the current use of computers in haemodynamic evaluation. His sequencing of ischemic heart events was also widely acclaimed, while his fundamental observations on artificial heart valves resulted in significant modifications in their design. He is a prolific author with more than 500 publications and several books to his credit. One of his books, Handbook of Interventional Cardiology, was translated into Italian and Chinese, and is used as a standard text in many medical schools.
Professor Sigwart’s landmark contributions to the advancement of interventional cardiology were recognized by numerous awards, invited lectures and memberships of learned societies, professional institutions and editorial boards. Among his honors, which are too numerous to list, is an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Lausanne, the European Society of Cardiology Medal, the Grüntzig Award and the Forssman Prize in addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine.
He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Angiology, the Royal College of Physicians (UK) and member or honorary member of major cardiology societies around the world. Despite his “retirement,” he is still very active in his consultative practice and as Associate Editor for Europe of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Intervention. He is also a man of benevolence. Jointly with his wife, he founded the Jonas Foundation to “help youngsters find new hope and perspective in life, and fight social exclusion and violence and promote cross-cultural dialogue through the arts.” He joined medical volunteers more than once to provide medical treatment for people in destitute. He is also a licensed pilot.
Professor Sigwart retired in 2006. A special retirement symposium was held in his honor where many scientists spoke about his impact on cardiology.
Professor Ulrach Sigwart, has been awarded the prize, in recognition of his milestone contributions to interventional cardiology. He conceived and developed endoluminal stenting that dramatically changed the approach to the treatment of coronary and extra-coronary arterial disease by providing a viable and safe alternative to bypass surgery. He also invented the non-surgical technique known as pharmacologic spetal ablation to reduce abnormal enlargement of the septum that separates the ventricles of the heart. These and other innovations by Sigwart have benefited hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide.