Dr. Mario J. Garcia is an eminent cardiologist and leader in the development and clinical implementation of the most advanced noninvasive cardiac diagnostic technology used around the world today. A physician, researcher and educator, he is known worldwide for his innovative use of noninvasive cardiac imaging in the clinic, such as coronary CT angiography (including some of the earliest studies testing radiation-reduction strategies), echocardiography, and MRI.
Dr. Garcia’s research focuses on why patients with diastolic heart failure have trouble doing physical exercise and the role of screening imaging tests for predicting cardiovascular events such as heart attacks. His cardiac imaging work has contributed significantly to the diagnosis and treatment of coronary artery disease, diastolic heart failure, cardiomyopathies and valvular heart disease. The CT coronary angiography technique avoids the use of invasive arterial catheterization to image the coronary arteries, using instead a modified CT scanner to detect even the smallest atherosclerotic plaques that can cause narrowing of the coronary vessels and lead to deadly heart attacks. Dr. Garcia tested the technology in animal and controlled human studies, which led to increased accuracy and lowered the use of radiation, both of which improved clinical effectiveness. In addition, his research findings have helped to improve the safety of manned space flights and the quality of battlefield medicine.
Dr. Garcia joined Einstein/Montefiore as Chief of the Division of Cardiology in 2010. He holds the Pauline Levitt Endowed Chair in Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and is Professor of Radiology and Co-Director (with Dr. Robert Michler) of the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Heart and Vascular Care. As co-director of the Center, Dr. Garcia has focused his attention on the cardiac health of lower income people living in urban areas such as the Bronx, where obesity, diabetes and other heart disease risk factors are common.
Dr. Garcia was born in Argentina and moved to the Dominican Republic when he was four years old. He attended Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo, where he earned both his bachelor’s degree in premedical sciences and his doctorate in medicine, completing his formal education in 1986, when he moved to the United States to train as an internal medicine resident and then a cardiology fellow at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He then pursued additional training at Massachusetts General Hospital in Cardiac Nuclear Imaging and at the Cleveland Clinic in Advanced Cardiac Imaging.
After two years as an Assistant Professor at Dartmouth, Dr. Garcia was recruited to the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. Eric Topol (Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA). He was initially a staff cardiologist, but became Director of Echocardiography in 2000, a position he held for the next five years. Under his tenure, the echocardiography program doubled in size to become the second largest program in the United States (behind the Mayo Clinic). Dr. Garcia was actively involved in recruiting new physicians to the program and managing the program’s budget. He also became involved in several entrepreneurial ventures, and brought CT angiography to the Cleveland Clinic. In 2005, he was named Director of Cardiovascular Imaging, leading the Cleveland Clinic to the top of cardiovascular imaging in the country at the time. In 2006, he was recruited to Mount Sinai as Professor of Medicine and Radiology and Director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Center, where he worked with Dr. Valentin Fuster. There, he once again led a successful expansion, developing a strong collaborative relationship with the Department of Radiology, a critical factor in his success.
Academically, Dr. Garcia is an active member of the Boards of Directors of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, of the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography, and of the Intersocietal Accreditation Council, and he is a past member of the Board of the American Society of Echocardiography. He is a member of the American Heart Association, Circulation Council; a member of the Editorial Board, JACC-Imaging; the Associate Editor, American Heart Association on-line; the Editor of theheart.org Imaging section and the Editor in Chief of theheart.org (Spanish edition); a board member of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM); and serves on the American College of Cardiology's ACCF Task Force on Clinical Expert Consensus Documents. He is the winner of the Feigenbaum Award of the American Society of Echocardiography (2004); the Inge Edler Award, Madrid, Spain (2001); the Teaching Attending of the year award, Cleveland Clinic Foundation (1998); the David H. Jacobs Research Award of the American Heart Association, Northeast Ohio Affiliate (1997); and the Facultad Universitaria Dominicana Year Award.
Dr. Garcia is the author or co-author of numerous books, including the very recent single-author definitive text, NonInvasive Cardiovascular Imaging: A Multimodality Approach (Garcia, MJ, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010). He has also written multiple book chapters and over 160 papers on many aspects of cardiac imaging.
Dr. Garcia's work has been supported by extramural funding from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the American Society of Echocardiography, the NIH, the American Heart Association, and SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals.