Published March 2021
Jane E. Wilcox, MD, MSc, has been named section chief of Heart Failure Treatment and Recovery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. At age 39, Dr. Wilcox is believed to be the youngest person — and also one of only several women — to hold the title of section chief for an academic heart failure program in a top-10 US News & World Report–ranked cardiovascular program.
Her interest in heart failure, transplantation and ventricular assist devices started in high school, when her father was diagnosed with acute heart failure. Her father, who was once evaluated for the heart transplant list, instead received a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) in 2017.
"I started medical school wanting to pursue cardiology," says Dr. Wilcox. "I just really liked the heart. I liked the physical hemodynamics of the heart, and I liked the connection to my dad."
In addition to being section chief, Dr. Wilcox is assistant professor of Medicine and associate director of the T1 Center for Cardiovascular Therapeutics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
I just really liked the heart. I liked the physical hemodynamics of the heart, and I liked the connection to my dad.— Jane E. Wilcox, MD, MSc, Cardiologist, Section Chief Heart Failure Treatment and Recovery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital
After completing medical school, she matched for her residency at Feinberg, which drew her interest because of the opportunity to work with Diane Wayne, MD, who was then program director. (Dr. Wayne is now vice president for human resources at Northwestern Medicine.) Dr. Wilcox was named chief resident and then continued at NM for fellowships in cardiology and advanced heart failure. Since then, she has been part of Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute.
Dr. Wilcox's focus on recovery is not just nomenclature. She has expertise in the study of genetics and works to decipher what types of heart failure, based on genetic profiles, might improve considerably with the best medical therapy. "Her goals are lofty, but her experiences to date in the recovery of heart muscle function are impressive," says Clyde W. Yancy, MD, MSc, chief of Cardiology at NM.
Dr. Wilcox says her personal mission and that of her team is to give hope to patients and families by solving complex problems and providing access to world-class care and leading-edge technologies.
Her father, Kenneth Wilcox, was the manager of a farm supply cooperative in rural Wisconsin. When his heart issues started, he says he had three choices. "I could go to work, go to the emergency department or go to bed," he says. "I went to the emergency department."
Mr. Wilcox says his father and other men in his family died of heart disease in their early 60s. He's now 77, with an LVAD, under the care of his daughter's team. "I feel healthy," he says. "These doctors at Northwestern are very, very good. And I think Dr. Wilcox is fantastic."