In Memoriam

ja.pngDr. JA Abildskov (Abbie)


Dr. JA Abildskov (Abbie)  was born in Salem Utah in 1923 and received his BA and MD degrees from the University of Utah followed by internship at LDS hospital and a fellowship in internal medicine at Tulane University. Following a three year cardiology faculty position at Tulane he entered the Army for two years as Chief of Cardiology at William Beaumont Army Hospital in El Paso Texas. He then joined the cardiology faculty at the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, NY where he began his ground-breaking work on clinical electrocardiography. He is internationally recognized for his major contributions to this field which resulted in 141 peer-reviews publications and numerous book chapters. His research was well funded throughout his career by NIH and other agencies and for many years he served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals including Circulation Research and Circulation. In addition, he  served on several NIH study sections and advisory committees and was a frequent invited speaker at conferences all over the world.

In 1968 he was recruited back to Utah by Dr. Max Wintrobe to serve as Associate Director of the then named Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute (CVRTI) and served as Director from 1971 to 1994. CVRTI was later named the Nora Eccles Harrison Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute in honor of the incredibly generous funding  provided by Nora Eccles and Richard Harrison and the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation which continues to this day.

Abbie worked tirelessly to build CVRTI into a world class research organization. Many of us old timers can thank him for hiring us into our first real jobs. He was an exemplary Director and scientist whose keen intellect, infectious sense of humor and ubiquitous pipe should be always remembered with great affection. He had an enormous positive impact on the lives of  countless individuals. In addition to his outstanding scientific and leadership abilities Abbie was simply a wonderful human being who will be deeply missed by us all. Here is the link to his scientific writings: The Automata Model of Arrhythmias

pat1Patricia A. Canepa


In November 2016 CVRTI and the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation lost a dear friend and colleague, Patricia A. Canepa (Pat). From 1994 until 2016 Pat served as Chair of the Foundation. Her dedication to the legacy of her longtime friend, Nora Eccles, was a major factor in the outstanding contributions of the Foundation to biomedical research. Under Pat’s able leadership the Foundation provided more than $42M to the University of Utah School of Medicine. Of special note are the many years of generous Foundation support to the Nora Eccles Harrison Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute (CVRTI), a world-class research facility.

Pat grew up in San Francisco and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1952. She maintained a keen interest in science throughout her life and for many years taught chemistry and physics at high schools in the Bay area. Her understanding of the rewards and challenges of biomedical research played an important role in her leadership of the Foundation. She was a thoughtful and intelligent Chair whose energy, enthusiasm and commitment inspired us all. Her tireless efforts directly contributed to the success of CVRTI in initiating and sustaining innumerable scientific discoveries that significantly contributed to the understanding of cardiovascular function in health and disease.

Pat always enthusiastically promoted the success of everyone at CVRTI and we are enormously grateful for the interest she took in us as people and scientists. As aptly expressed by a CVRTI investigator “Pat stood out as a person with unique leadership and accountability coupled with grace and balance”. Pat developed many long lasting friendships at CVRTI and we will always remember her with much gratitude and affection.

Dr. Bruno Taccardi

We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of Dr. Bruno Taccardi, MD, PhD, one of CVRTI’s most distinguished scientists. Bruno had a long and highly productive career in the field of cardiac electrophysiology and held key research administrative positions in Milano, and Parma Italy and at CVRTI. He is internationally recognized for his seminal work on the biophysics of cardiac electric fields resulting in over 200 publications including papers and book chapters. Bruno was also a talented pianist with an exemplary knowledge of classical music.  We are deeply honored to have had this outstanding individual here at CVRTI for so many years. Our heart goes out to his lovely wife Irma.

Tonnya Anne Baxter

In April 2011 CVRTI lost one of its most valued members, Tonnya Baxter. She began her long and distinguished career at CVRTI in 1973, first as a secretary then quickly rising to become the chief administrative officer at the Nora Eccles Harrison Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute (CVRTI) at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Tonnya was responsible for all financial, administrative and personnel matters at CVRTI. For such a large and diverse group, this is frequently an exceptionally difficult and complex task. However, because of her extraordinary abilities, perseverance and attention to detail, Tonnya excelled in all aspect of her job. Her work was critically important for the successful operation of the Institute and involved interactions with all members of the Institute and numerous University administrative offices. Tonnya managed the budgets of up 30 research grants totaling millions of dollars from major national funding agencies and the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation. She also dealt with all sorts of personnel issues involving hundreds of individuals through the years. Tonnya was a skilled problem solver with an incredible knowledge of the smallest detail of university administrative and financial policies and procedures. All CVRTI directors would agree that without her invaluable assistance they would have been lost. Throughout her years at CVRTI Tonnya maintained a gracious, patient and conscientious approach to her work. In addition to extraordinary professional skills, she had an encyclopedic knowledge of literature, art, music and current events. She was also a voracious reader with an incredible memory of all she had read. As a much beloved member of the CVRTI family Tonnya was truly the “first lady” of CVRTI. Words cannot express how much she will be missed.