J Tift Mann, MD '69

2014 Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award recipient

Tift Mann

Described by colleagues as “the consummate physician,” Dr. James Tift Mann III has built Wake Heart and Vascular Associates into one of the preeminent cardiac referral centers in the Southeast and is recognized worldwide as a pioneer in the development of a safer and more effective approach to cardiac catheterization.

Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University and his medical degree from UNC. Following a residency in internal medicine at North Carolina Memorial Hospital, he served for two years in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. Upon returning the NCMH, he was senior resident in internal medicine and then a fellow in cardiology.

In 1976-1977, Dr. Mann was an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and assistant director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. Another faculty member, with whom he had previously worked during his cardiology training at UNC, was William Grossman, MD, now professor and chair of preventive cardiology and director of the University of California at San Francisco Center for Prevention of Heart Disease.“ As a fellow in cardiology, Dr. Mann demonstrated remarkable creativity and hard work and wrote a classic first author paper in the New England Journal of Medicine,” Dr. Grossman says. “During his cardiology fellowship and one year on the faculty at Brigham, he carried out research that led to fourteen publications of first-rate articles in peer reviewed journals.”

Dr. Mann returned to North Carolina in 1977 to join Raleigh Internal Medicine Associates; and in 1984, he founded Wake Heart Associates, which subsequently became Wake Heart and Vascular. It is now the largest adult cardiology group in eastern North Carolina.

More than a practitioner, Dr. Mann has always been a proselytizer for coronary intervention. “In his earliest days, he traveled from Raleigh to the coast, carrying a projector in the trunk of his car, to spread awareness of the powers of cardiac catheterization and angiography,” says Joel E. Shneider, MD, of Wake Heart and Vascular and an assistant professor of medicine at UNC.

“Beginning in 1994, Dr. Mann developed an interest in transradial coronary intervention as a technique to improve outcomes and reduce complications during coronary angioplasty,” Dr. Schneider says. “The technique was first described a year earlier by Dr. Ferdinand Kiemineij in Amsterdam. The two are recognized internationally for their contributions to the field.”

Since 1995, cardiologists throughout the country have attended Dr. Mann’s symposia on transradial intervention, and he has published scores of articles on the subject in peer reviewed journals.

Dr. Mann performed the first coronary angioplasty, the first transradial intervention and the first carotid stent procedures at Wake Medical Center, which is now WakeMed. “It is one of the state’s major cardiac centers, largely built on Dr. Mann’s work and reputation,” according to Dr. Schneider. Joseph D. Russell, MD, an internal medicine physician in Wilson, says Wake Heart and Vascular has become “one of the premier cardiac referral centers in the state and nationally” due largely to Dr. Mann’s “efforts in developing the cardiac catheterization capabilities at WakeMed and his building of strong ties with referring physicians in surrounding communities.”

Dr. Grossman finds it particularly telling that “during his entire career, Dr. Mann has never lost the human touch and remains revered by his many patients.” Dr. Schneider, who has worked with Dr. Mann for more than 20 years, says that his “mentor, colleague, co-investigator and true friend” has touched the lives of countless North Carolinians and their families.

As important, perhaps, as Dr. Mann’s care for individual patients, according to Dr. Schneider, has been “his ability to establish a standard amongst his colleagues and peers to provide state-of-the art medicine, challenge the norms, perform research to justify beliefs, and educate those around him. Through his work locally, nationally and internationally, he has advanced the field of cardiology and made coronary intervention safer and more efficacious for heart patients worldwide.”

In recognition of his seminal contributions to the field of cardiology and his unfailing commitment to the highest standards of patient care, we are proud to present the Distinguished Medical Alumnus Award to Dr. James Tift Mann III.