The Exemplary Leadership Award recognizes a KCMS member physician for outstanding leadership and service.

For over 30 years, James L. Vacek, MD, MS, FACP, FACC, FAHA, has been a leader in patient care, teaching and research in the field of cardiology in Kansas City.

He has been a professor of medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center since 2008 and was a clinical professor there from 2001-2008. He previously was a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City from 1989-2001, and was on the KU faculty from 1986-1989.

Among his accomplishments in research has been the development of the hot-tip catheter in the 1980s, during a time when opening up occluded arteries was still considered revolutionary. This patented technology was licensed to Boston Scientific, and it contributed to the development of today’s radiofrequency ablation catheters used to treat heart arrhythmias. Other focuses of his research have been investigating the role of vitamin D in cardiovascular disease, managing myocardial infarction, comparing catheter techniques vs. thrombolytic drugs, and analyzing the impact of risk factors on coronary artery disease.

Dr. Vacek practiced with Mid-America Cardiology at the University of Kansas Medical Center until his retirement from clinical work at the end of 2017. He continues to teach and conduct research.

Teaching medical students and residents over the years has been a source of great satisfaction. He first gained his love for teaching while serving in the U.S. Air Force in Biloxi, Miss., where he was involved in managing patients and teaching at several local hospitals.

A former colleague at KU, Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, MD, now of HCA Midwest Health, said: “Dr. Vacek’s work spans continents and he remains a true pioneer and an influential thought leader in cardiology. He has brought innovation, scientific rigor, dynamism, visibility and honor to the field of electrophysiology.”