John L. Jefferies, MD, MPH, is the new governor-elect of the Tennessee Chapter of the American College of Cardiology (TNACC) and will become governor of the organization in 2021. He believes these new positions will allow him to help Memphis and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center play leading roles in improving cardiac care across the state.
Dr. Jefferies is the Jay M. Sullivan Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine and chief of Cardiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. He is also the director of the UTHSC-Methodist Institute for Cardiovascular Science.
“It is a huge honor and a privilege to be able to represent cardiovascular medicine for the state of Tennessee,” Dr. Jefferies said. “It gives us numerous opportunities to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease across the state. It also gives us a platform to discuss with decision makers, including payors and government, about things that could be optimized in our health system and where we should be investing our efforts. We want to be able to work with our partners throughout Tennessee to help to create a statewide effort toward improving cardiac care.”
Dr. Jefferies said he intends to focus on education and prevention of cardiovascular disease. “We spend a very large amount of money on cardiovascular care and a lot of that care is toward patients who are very much down the path, their disease has progressed and gotten quite severe, necessitating expensive therapies that may have limited benefit. A more impactful approach for patients and a cost-effective strategy would be to identify them before they develop disease, or at least intervene before they develop significant disease,” he said. “The way to do that is through education, through outreach, and through access to appropriate services and providers.”
Dr. Jefferies oversees the clinical, research, and educational components of the of the UTHSC-Methodist Institute for Cardiovascular Science. He said the institute has expanded its educational offerings, including an advanced fellowship in electrophysiology. “I think the volume and quality of the applicants we have has increased. That is an important indicator that the word is out that we are doing something important here,” he said.
Dr. Jefferies also said the UTHSC-Methodist Institute for Cardiovascular Science has added more than 15 clinical trials since he joined the university in the summer of 2018. “We get patients from a large radius to participate in these studies. These trials offer people access to technology and innovation that otherwise they might not receive,” he said. “This is a way people can be involved in cutting-edge investigation in a way that’s more economically feasible for them.”
A two-time alumnus of the University of Tennessee System, Dr. Jefferies specializes in advanced heart failure, heritable cardiovascular disease, and cardio-oncology. He graduated from UT Knoxville in 1992 and received his medical degree from UTHSC in 1996. He completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Kentucky. He also completed fellowships in adult and pediatric cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
He came to UTHSC from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s, where he served as a professor of adult cardiovascular disease and pediatric cardiology, and a professor of human genetics.