Harry Fozzard in 1990, Randy Tunnell for the University of Chicago MedicineHarry Fozzard, a pioneer in the study of cardiac muscle activity, died Dec. 9 at the age of 83 at his home in Dana, North Carolina.

Fozzard was active in the American Heart Association for decades and was named a Distinguished Scientist in 2005. The Distinguished Scientist designation was created in 2003 and is bestowed on elite scientists whose work has importantly advanced the understanding of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Fozzard’s research led to understanding ion channels in heart muscle cells and how they help regulate the heartbeat.

He laid the foundation for modern clinical electrophysiology when he mapped out the structure and function of the voltage-gated ion channels in the heart muscle, according to the University of Chicago, where he served as the  Otho S.A. Sprague Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Medicine.

“When I first arrived as a post-doctoral student in his lab in the early 1980s, he was he was just about the only person around doing ion-channel electrophysiology,” said Dorothy Hanck, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “He trained with one of the founders of the field.”

During his career, he served as mentor to more than 60 doctorate candidates, postdoctoral fellows and scientists on sabbatical, according to the university.

Photos courtesy the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences.