Khaldoun Tarakji, MD, MPH (IM’04, Cards’09, EP’11), who developed and launched the website tool AlumniConnect and served as an Alumni Association Board Specialty Director for Cardiology, has been honored with the 2023 Alumni Association Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who contribute to the growth and advancement of Cleveland Clinic and the Alumni Association.
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“It is a great honor to receive the Alumni Service Award, and it is even more humbling to see the names of those who have received this award before me,” Dr. Tarakji says. “To know that I am following in their footsteps is a badge of honor. I am forever grateful for this recognition.”
Dr. Tarakji grew up in Damascus, Syria, where he finished medical school before training at Cleveland Clinic. He completed his internal medicine residency in 2004, a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine in 2009, and then a fellowship in electrophysiology in 2011, the year he joined the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine.
“For me, Cleveland Clinic was not just an experience, but a lifetime of 22 years between training in internal medicine, cardiology, electrophysiology and as an electrophysiologist in the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine,” he says. “It will always be home, and its people will always be my family. I learned from so many mentors, colleagues, and fellows, and I am always indebted to the mentors who opened doors for me. To provide an opportunity to someone requires a lot of earned trust, but also a great deal of courage. These are not opportunities to only train, but to build lifetime careers. And whether one stays or leaves, we all carry Cleveland Clinic with us anywhere we go.”
Now Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Cardiac Ablation Solutions, Medtronic Inc., Dr. Tarakji formerly was Associate Section Head of Cardiac Electrophysiology at Cleveland Clinic’s Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute. While at Cleveland Clinic, he received several clinical and research awards, most notably, the Cash Memorial Award for clinical research in 2007, the Irving Dawson Award for Clinical Excellence in 2009, and the Sones and Favaloro Innovation Award in 2019. Dr. Tarakji also has a master’s degree in public health from Cleveland State University and has authored and co-authored many articles in leading scientific journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Circulation, and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
He takes pride in his legacy of patient care and training residents and fellows at Cleveland Clinic. “As a physician, there is no greater joy than a message from a grateful patient, and as a mentor, there is no better reward than helping someone and watching them advance their career,” he says. “Cleveland Clinic also helped me build a wonderful academic career and lead many global trials that had an impact on patient outcomes globally. But perhaps the top accomplishment is the wonderful friendships I have built with so many colleagues and alumni over the years in Cleveland and all over the world.”
Dr. Tarakji also has enjoyed his roles in the Alumni Association. “Serving on the Alumni Board was a wonderful experience,” he says. “It gave me more appreciation for the impact of Cleveland Clinic. We celebrate our world-class care, research and innovation. In addition, one of the greatest impacts of Cleveland Clinic is the generations of physicians who trained there and now are practicing nationally and globally. All of them bring Cleveland Clinic culture with them, and many attract each other and build mini-Cleveland Clinics in their own centers. Staying connected with alumni is hard, and perhaps the best experience I had was building the AlumniConnect app with the Alumni staff team as one way to stay connected with Alumni around the globe.”
To his fellow alumni who are just embarking on their medical careers, Dr. Tarakji offers this advice: “You have an amazing opportunity! Make the best out of it, and if you do, your achievements will be bigger than your wildest dreams.”