SMHS Faculty Spotlight
SMHS Faculty Spotlight
CFE (Center for Faculty Excellence)

GW School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center for Faculty Excellence 

February 2024 Faculty Spotlight

Excellence in teaching & learning, scholarly endeavors, and leadership are all around us at SMHS. The Center for Faculty Excellence would like to Spotlight our faculty and staff contributions to SMHS, George Washington University, and beyond. Each month we will spotlight faculty or staff from across SMHS, MFA, and Children's. We want to thank our highlighted members for sharing with us their advice and perspectives!

- SMHS Center for Faculty Excellence
Dr. Andrew Choi
Join the CFE as we highlight Andrew D. Choi, MD, FACC, MSCCT, who discusses his journey and role within the Division of Cardiology as the Co-Director of Multimodality Cardiac Imaging and clinical lead for the GW Lipid Program. Andrew highlights his recent panel discussion on Staying Heart Healthy and the future of the field of cardiology. 


Andrew D. Choi, MD, FACC, MSCCT, is the Co-Director of Multimodality Cardiac Imaging and Associate Professor of Medicine and Radiology at GW where he directs multimodality imaging directed clinical care, research and education for a wide spectrum of cardiovascular prevention and treatment in atherosclerosis, structural heart disease and cardiomyopathies utilizing Cardiac CT, Cardiac MRI and interventional/3D echocardiography, as well as support to general echocardiography and nuclear imaging. In addition, Dr. Choi provides expert consultation on complex cholesterol/lipid disorders and general cardiology.

Dr. A. Choi is a national thought leader in cardiovascular imaging and prevention. He is the author of over 200 abstracts and publications in the world's leading medical journals, co-chair of several recent international guidance statements in imaging. He is an editor at JACC: CV Imaging and has been invited to lecture at conferences and leading institutions worldwide. He was previously elected and served the Board of Directors of the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography with members in more than 85 countries. Dr. Choi has a passion for research in cardiac CT methods that enhance personalized early heart disease detection through artificial intelligence.

Dr. A. Choi is a GW School of Medicine alumnus, graduating as the Allie S. Freed Awardee in Preventive Medicine including training in the GW Lipid Research Clinic in the early 2000s under the mentorship of Dr. Judith Hsia. He trained in Internal Medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (NY), Cardiology at Georgetown University and in Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging for 2 years as the Inaugural Fellow in a joint program at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute-National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Washington Hospital Center. He has been elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society, recognized in 2021 by the American College of Cardiology (Maryland Chapter) for Distinguished Service and has been consistently named as a Washingtonian Top Doctor including in 2023.  

Dr. Choi embraces an individualized, relational approach to prevention that couples a heart-healthy lifestyle with expert advice and the most up-to-date treatment approaches to enhance the lives of his patients. He is married with 3 children and enjoys local sports, music, and coffee.

Interview Q/A

How long have you been at GWSMHS? What drew you to your current position?
Andrew: As a younger faculty with deep experience, I have been associated with George Washington University for almost 18 years. The first half of those years I spent as a student with undergraduate degrees from the Columbian College and School of Engineering and then completed medical school plus time in research at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences that included research at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt-Columbia University (as it was named at the time).

I completed my Medicine training in New York City at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai followed by Cardiology at Washington Hospital Center (WHC) and Georgetown University, I further pursued subspecialty training through WHC and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-National Institutes of Health (NIH). I joined the faculty in cardiology in 2015.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in Cardiology?

Andrew: As a medical student at George Washington, I was inspired by GW faculty, such as Dr. Judy Hsia and Dr. Alan Wasserman who had taught basic cardiovascular medicine and mentored students. Both of them imparted a love of cardiovascular physiology and pharmacology through evidence and large clinical trials that guide our decision-making. I was particularly inspired by Dr. Hsia, and I was able to spend my first-year summer as a Gill Fellow, then a few years amidst rotations doing research and seeing patients, learning lipidology with her in the GW Lipid Research Clinic. I was able to see how she formed important long-term relationships with her patients, provided guidance on topics of prevention, and learned so much from her on how she thought about the evidence base of cardiovascular medicine. Strong mentors during medical school inspired me to pursue a dedicated research year between 3rd and 4th years as the next step in my ongoing journey in cardiology.   
What are your major responsibilities here at GW?

Andrew: When I first started as faculty in 2015, picking up the baton from my close colleague, Dr. Brian Choi (an outstanding leader - we are not related and 2 different people), I was recruited by GW stalwart Dr. Dick Katz to lead our multimodality cardiac imaging. In this clinical role, I have a very central interface across general, non-invasive, interventional, electrophysiology, and heart failure cardiology and cardiac surgery and have worked to make imaging a regionally and nationally leading program. We have an outstanding collaborative and collegial relationship with our Department of Radiology and Dr. Robert Zeman, Chairman of Radiology who is a central leader and experienced partner in cardiovascular imaging. As we have grown, what we do within imaging is to use both established and newer sophisticated modalities especially CT and MRI, and interventional echocardiography for the diagnosis and precise guidance of management for our heart patients. 

Recently in the last few years, I assumed stewardship and leadership over our complex Lipid Program with the retirement of now Emerita colleague Dr. Lisa Martin. In conjunction with Dr. Bill Borden, the program’s purpose is to manage patients both within GW and the DMV community who have cholesterol disorders and work to implement new therapies such as inclisiran, a novel q6month lipid-lowering therapeutic, with linkage to clinical trial evidence and guidelines to prevent future heart attacks.

In terms of teaching, I teach our cardiology fellows and residents on our hospital cardiology service, in the clinic, and at our regular didactic case conferences. My research interests have been in the early detection of coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis through translation and validation of novel technology. Recently, non-invasive cardiac CT angiography has evolved to encompass artificial intelligence allowing for unique assessment of early onset of coronary artery plaque that guides current treatment and future prevention for tens of millions of patients who are at risk for heart disease.  I direct cardiac imaging education for professionals at regional, national, and international scientific meetings.  I will have the honor to serve as a Visiting Professor at Harvard/Massachusetts General/Brigham and Women’s Hospital in April this year.  

At GW, I currently serve on the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly with leaders in medicine and health services to advance the mission of the medical center, participate in the selection of diverse trainees and have previously served on the SMHS Diversity and Inclusion Council as well as the Committee on the Learning Environment. 
What is one of your favorite aspects of your current role and responsibilities?

Andrew: One of the best parts of being here at GW is working and collaborating with people across the Academic Medical Enterprise. Mentoring multiple medical students who have come through our program, seeing the growth of residents who rotate with us in the hospital, and walking alongside the cardiology fellows who are incredibly dedicated to the patients we serve is a wonderful privilege. I often wish I had more space to take even more learners and trainees into our imaging program. I particularly enjoy working with the faculty members within my division and across the medical enterprise as well as the truly outstanding leadership we have such as Deans Bass, Haywood, Miller, and Frazier who are steady and visionary pillars. The people here are what makes this medical center among the best in the country, now in our bicentennial year.
February is National Heart Month! You recently served on a panel alongside other GW Cardiologists for the GW Medicine Bicentennial Series Staying Heart Healthy Event, can you tell us more about this event?
Andrew: Our Cardiology group including Dr. Bill Borden our interim chair of medicine, Dr. Cindy Tracey, our cardiology division director, and Dr. Gurusher Panjrath, the director of our Heart and Vascular Institute, had a panel discussion with Dean Bass to speak to the general public and the university community about living heart healthy in 2024. The conversation touched on very broad questions, for example: How can we live out the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 (8) to eat better, get active (8-10,000 steps, 30 min/day, 5x/week!), lose weight and to know your numbers (lipids, BP and blood sugar).  We heard from experts in women's heart health, structural heart disease, prevention, and the role of technology and artificial intelligence in cardiology. We also touched upon the role of empathy in cardiovascular medicine as we walk with our patients in their time of need after a heart attack or heart event.  
Can you tell us more about your project within the CFE Fundamentals of Leadership Program and your work within the Complex Lipid Program?

Andrew: Last year I completed the Fundamentals of Leadership program which allowed me to spend a year focusing on ways to enhance the Complex Lipid Program in Cardiovascular Prevention. I think all of us who are at GW in the medical center are leaders; for me being a part of this program was a great opportunity to gain new administrative skills, enhance leadership traits (eg EI/EQ, building a positive, diverse, and equitable culture), navigate rapid change and develop a forward-looking lipid program within the post-pandemic environment. In addition to this, I got the opportunity to learn from folks like Dee Dee Hermann and build new relationships in my group with the best across the medical center in clinical medicine and in the health sciences such as Drs. Christina Prather and Maranda Ward. I highly recommend this program to all faculty, especially faculty seeking to enhance their existing leadership roles at GW through a defined project. 
What about the future of Cardiology excites you?

Andrew: Cardiovascular medicine as well as the GW Academic Medical Enterprise is at an important tipping point. As we continue to come out of the pandemic, we have been looking at how we can expand how we deliver academic clinical services with education and research. I am very excited about the future. I am also excited about Dean Bass’ vision for a new GW cardiovascular center of excellence as we aspire to be a leading medical center in cardiovascular care in the region and the nation.
What impact do you hope to have through these roles?

Andrew: There are multiple challenges we face post-pandemic. There's a phrase that I would reference, “Instead of trying to change 100% of one thing, aim to improve 1% of a hundred things.” So for my trainees, I hope that through my teaching and mentorship, they have a chance to improve a little bit in a variety of ways and remain inspired in the work that they do to achieve significant gains. Whether that is a student working with research who has the opportunity to ask really interesting questions, struggle with what the data is telling them, and come out on the other side, having answered an important question. It may be a clinical trainee who is learning to understand how to integrate the breadth of pathology and guidelines and apply it to a complex cardiac imaging study in consultation with a physician or heart patient. 

For colleagues, I hope that our clinical and research collaborations continue to grow and foster an environment that utilizes our vision of heart health that positively impacts the lives of patients and the medical community.
What are you looking forward to working on or doing here at GW?

Andrew: Each year, 800,000 Americans die suddenly, 20 million Americans suffer from coronary artery heart disease and tens of millions are at risk of developing heart disease.  What I am excited about and looking forward to doing is integrating our novel work in imaging, especially artificial intelligence and atherosclerosis imaging, with that of our complex lipid and cholesterol prevention program to work to reduce and eliminate heart disease. The paradigm of how we have approached prevention has served us well for the last 50 years.  However heart disease is rising in women, those from ethnically diverse, and in younger individuals. There are now new opportunities to fully phenotype what's happening in a patient’s coronary arteries that will give more precise insights to detect heart disease earlier and develop new drugs to prevent heart attacks and eliminate heart disease in our lifetime.
How does this spotlight make you feel?

Andrew: I feel great.  Thank you for the honor of participating with you Dr Brown and for your leadership in faculty excellence!  This time allows me to share what we have been doing in cardiology as a piece of all the wonderful work that happens within the medical center. I hope that trainees, students, and especially our early career faculty that have joined in the last 2 or 3 years, in a time of tremendous change, know that there are a large number of people who want them to succeed. The advice I would give early career faculty is to be persistent and consistent, get things done, seek guidance from mentors, and maintain your academic vision. It is not always easy to be in medicine in a time of administrative and societal change. It is not a 9-5 job. I do some of my best academic work from 4-6am before dawn!  The best is yet to come for you.
What is one thing that keeps you motivated during the day?

Andrew: We are in academic medicine to do good things for people through medicine.  It is not always easy, oftentimes it is incredibly difficult due to all the challenges that may overwhelm us. There is a quote I would like to share from John Wesley from a place of faith, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways that you can, at all the times you can to all the people you can, as long as you can.” If we can move that ball forward even a little bit each day, then one’s own professional life, the medical center, and the lives we serve will be better for it. 
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