Kim Eagle

Kim Eagle

The Rotary Club of Ann Arbor’s Distinguished Service Award recipient today is Dr. Kim Eagle, MD, MACC. He grew up in Bozeman, Montana.  Son of a math teacher and grandson of a famous fly fishing and Hunting Guide who owned a Sporting goods store at the western entrance of Yellowstone Park. With his grandpa, he learned to fly fish at the age of 5 and when he was in Middle School, he became a guide for the many tourists who visited the area, taking them out for fishing.

After graduating from Bozeman High, Kim wanted to study engineering. With that intent, he enrolled in Oregon State University, but soon found out that engineering was not his cup of tea. He liked Biology and also had an interest in Ministry. When he discussed this with his College Advisor, the Advisor suggested he should enroll in Medical School because that profession combines the two. The only challenge with pursuing that was, where would the money come from to pay for his medical education. His parents with four children could not afford the expense.

Since High School days, Kim had been a guide for a gentleman from the Seattle, WA area, who came to Montana frequently for fishing and hunting. This gentleman, named Don Hopkins, who had graduated from Yale, had become a mentor to Dr Eagle. Mr. Hopkins was really fond of Eastern education and kept encouraging Kim to go east for his education. When he heard that Kim had abandoned his plan to become an Engineer in a western university in Oregon (Oregon is west of Montana if you look at a map), he encouraged Kim to go east for his medical education. At the same time, he also asked Kim’s parents if he could help them pay for Kim’s Medical School.  The gentleman must have figured out that this young man was a good investment for the greater good of the society. What an act of generosity on Mr. Hopkin’s part.

Young Kim’s eastbound adventure started with attending Tuft University Medical School in Boston followed by a Residency at Yale, his mentor’s alma mater. His Mentor, Mr. Hopkins was thrilled with Kim’s choice. He was somewhat shocked when Kim went to Harvard from Yale for his Fellowship in cardiology. By then he was so proud of Kim’s achievements, he felt it was all right with him because Kim had gone to Yale first.

After finishing his Fellowship in cardiology at Harvard Medical School, Kim joined the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital in 1986. He rose to the rank of Associate Director of Clinical Cardiology at MGH and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.  He joined University of Michigan in 1994 and moved to Ann Arbor with his wife Darlene and young son, Taylor.

Dr. Kim Eagle is currently an Albion Walter Hewlett Professor of Internal Medicine at the Medical School. He is also a Professor of Health Management and Policy at the School of Public Health. He is a Director of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center at Michigan Medicine.

At “U of M”, beginning in 1994, Dr. Eagle developed an outcomes research program focusing on quality, cost-effectiveness, practice guidelines, acute coronary syndromes, treatment of aortic diseases, and the fight against childhood obesity. 

Kim is the Founder of both “Project Healthy Schools” and “Project My Heart Your Heart”, two very unique programs serving the local Michigan communities and beyond.

 Project Healthy Schools is a middle school intervention program that provides 10 lessons focusing on nutrition and movement. The Program changes the cafeteria food and what is stocked in the vending machines at the participating Middle Schools. It celebrates health in the school by working with the principal and the teachers. The Program has shown that by implementing a health curriculum in middle schools, you can improve children’s health. They eat better, they move more, their cholesterol goes down, and their exercise tests suggest that they are more fit. Approximately 10 years back, this Program was started in one Ann Arbor Middle School as a Pilot Program. Today the Program has grown to over 80 Middle Schools all over Michigan. Even other states around the US are adopting this Program. As a very successful Cardiologist, it was Dr. Eagle’s vision and hard work with several Partners and an excellent team of professionals that made this Program so successful. Many members of the Project Healthy Schools Team are here with us today.

A few years ago, one of his fellows came into Dr Eagle’s office with a used Pacemaker that was removed before a patient died and was about to be cremated. The next of kin of the deceased had brought the Pacemaker to see if someone else who needed it, but could not afford it, could use it. That moment created the My Heart Your Heart Program, which is an effort to recycle pacemakers for use in low income countries around the world. Since its creation, this Program has received over 20,000 pacemakers in the mail. They are working with a nonprofit to make the devices sterilized, reanalyzed and made available to people in developing countries. What a remarkable program that was once again the brainchild of Dr. Eagle’s vision.

Dr. Eagle’s outcomes research team has led quality improvement initiatives across the state of Michigan in acute MI, heart failure, and coronary intervention.  Dr. Eagle has contributed extramural presentations to more than 110,000 learners in 33 US states and 12 countries.  He has published 603 peer-reviewed articles, 70 chapters, and edited 8 books including his latest, The Heart of a Champion, co-written with legendary Michigan football coach, Bo Schembechler.

When I asked him what he likes most about his job, his answer was, training the young doctors to become physicians and giving back his time and efforts to the programs such as the two community centered initiatives he created for the greater good. He also mentioned that he would not be here if it was not for the generosity of his mentor. And he firmly believes that not only thru his medical profession but also his philanthropy in other areas, is his calling.

Dr. Eagle has served the American College of Cardiology on numerous committees and task forces.  He is the editor of the ACC’s website, ACC.org.  He served its Board of Trustees from 2001-2005.  He received ACC’s “Master” designation in 2009, and it’s national Distinguished Teacher Award in 2012.  He served on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s External Advisory Committee from 2002-2006, and has been Study Chair of its Genetic Causes of Thoracic Aortic Conditions (GenTAC) since 2006.  He has served the local and national American Heart Association and he received the national AHA’s Laennec Society’s Clinician Educator Award in 2013.  He is past President of the Association of University Cardiologists and a Board Member of the World Medical Relief.  In 2014, the University of Michigan and many of Dr. Eagle’s grateful patients created the Kim A. Eagle Professorship in Cardiovascular Medicine and an endowed research fund bearing his name. This was only the second time the University has bestowed this honor on a Faculty who is still working at the University.

Dr. Eagle, his wife Darlene and son Taylor enjoy Ann Arbor’s diverse opportunities for cultural and family fun.  They spend time cheering the Michigan athletic teams, and volunteering at St. Mary’s Student Parish.  Dr. Eagle is Past President of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.  He is an avid fly fisherman and skier and often enjoys these pastimes in Montana, his childhood home.

So, on behalf of the members of our Rotary Club, it is my privilege to present our Rotary Club’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award to a world renowned Cardiologist, an excellent Professor, who has gratitude from all the thousands of Physicians he has trained over the years, and praise from all his colleagues at the University.

Kim, you are a true Humanitarian who is making a difference in the lives of people not only locally but also around the world. You are truly a gentleman with humility and compassion that is unparalleled. You are a true gem for our community and the University.  (Remarks by Ashish Sarkar, May 24, 2017)