Houston Treasures for 2009
Photo by: Iraj Ghavidel Photography
World-renowned cardiologist Dr. James T. Willerson is President and Medical Director of the Texas Heart Institute and former President of The University of Texas Health Science Center. Nancy Beamer Willerson is a registered nurse whose career has focused on diabetes and renal disease and transplantation. They share a passion for medical research, education and teaching.
Dr. Willerson has held executive and professorial positions at Memorial Hermann Hospital, the Texas Heart Institute, Baylor College of Medicine and U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of U.T., Dr. Willerson was a Texas Cowboy and varsity swimmer. His medical training was at Baylor College of Medicine and Massachusetts General. He has led departments of the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health and has served as visiting professor or invited lecturer at more than 220 institutions worldwide. He has received numerous international awards and served on editorial boards of the world’s most prestigious medical publications. Co-editor of twenty-four textbooks, he has also published more than 850 scientific articles.
A “Distinguished Alumnus” and “Outstanding Teacher” of his various institutions, Dr. Willerson’s recent research work involves discovery of those genes and proteins that play a key role in causing the major diseases of our time. It is his strong conviction that from these discoveries will come the knowledge to predict, prevent, and cure heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, aneurysms, heart attacks, and the deleterious effects of aging.
Working at Methodist Hospital with adult diabetic patients in the 90’s, Nancy organized nurses to volunteer at Camp Rainbow, a day camp for diabetic children. She has served as President of the Hermann Hospital Volunteers and developed the Art Cart at Hermann Children’s Hospital. She was a founding member and Chairman of PARTNERS (Providing Advancement Resources To Nursing Education, Research and Students) for the UT/Houston School of Nursing.
Nancy has served on the board of the Blaffer Gallery, is President of the Houston Symphony League and is a member of the MFAH Guild. She is also a board member and two-time chair of the Ima Hogg Young Artist Competition.
The Willerson’s adult daughters, Sara Beth and Amy Eleanor, are also educators.