Vlad Gabriel Zaha, M.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and a member of its Cardiology Division. He specializes in cardio-oncology and advanced cardiovascular imaging diagnostic modalities.

Dr. Zaha earned his medical degree at Carol Davila University of Medicine & Pharmacy in Bucharest. He went on to conduct research studies of myocardial cell biology, investigating insulin signaling and glucose-transport mechanisms in the heart.

He earned his doctoral degree summa cum laude at the University of Freiburg in Germany and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology and genetics at the University of Utah, where he conducted studies to elucidate molecular and genetic connections that underlie the energetic metabolism in the heart, funded by a fellowship award from the American Heart Association. Dr. Zaha also conducted studies of molecular mechanisms for protection of myocardial mitochondria and was recognized as a finalist at the 2014 Northwestern Young Investigator Forum.

Dr. Zaha completed a residency in internal medicine at Indiana University and a fellowship in cardiology at Yale University and University College London, specializing in cardio-oncology and advanced cardiovascular imaging.

He joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2016.

Since March 2018, Dr. Zaha has served in the leadership council of the Cardio-Oncology Section of the American College of Cardiology. Other professional organizations in which he is active include the American Heart Association, the American Society of Echocardiography, the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, and the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

Meet Dr. Zaha

Cardio-Oncology Specialist in Dallas

Vlad Gabriel Zaha, M.D., Ph.D., is one of only a few cardio-oncologists in the Dallas area. A cardio-oncologist is a cardiovascular medicine specialist who treats patients with heart and vascular problems resulting from cancer treatment or from the cancer itself.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatment can help patients in their battle with cancer but meanwhile can also damage a healthy heart or worsen symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Zaha works closely with patients’ oncology, hematology, radiation oncology, and surgical teams to protect their hearts while their cancer treatment is optimized.

“When you are in the early diagnostic stages, you might need an evaluation of your heart to determine how it will be affected by your treatment,” Dr. Zaha says. “Our goal is to prevent severe complications, some of which are irreversible.”

Even patients who survived cancer at a young age can benefit from an evaluation of potential long-term risks of the therapies they received.

Dr. Zaha has specialized training in cardio-oncology and multimodality cardiovascular imaging, which is an important part of the heart evaluation process.

During a visit with Dr. Zaha, patients receive a thorough assessment of their risk factors, such as existing cardiovascular issues; metabolic disorders, including diabetes; physical fitness level; symptoms, if any; lab evaluations; and, if required, advanced cardiovascular imaging. Results of this assessment determine patients’ heart health risks and how often they need to return to see Dr. Zaha.

“While every patient’s situation is different, it’s part of my job to help each understand how we can help keep the heart healthy during and after cancer treatment, what is expected, and what might need immediate attention,” Dr. Zaha says. “Some side effects of cancer treatment might be serious if not caught early, while others are transitory. Some side effects can occur immediately during treatment, while others develop late, years after the cancer has been treated.”

Through his research, Dr. Zaha is exploring ways to integrate novel, noninvasive diagnostic tests in clinical use. For example, he is studying mitochondrial function, or the energy source of the heart, to find ways to diagnose heart dysfunction sooner by detecting changes in the way the chemical energy in the heart is generated. This work is funded by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas.

“My research integrates well with my clinical side because I can apply my findings directly to cancer patients I see in my clinic every day,” he says.

Personal Note

Dr. Zaha is originally from Romania. His interests beyond science and medicine include his family, friends, outdoor sports, and the exploration of nature and the arts.

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Education & Training
  • Medical School - Carol Davila University of Medicine & Pharmacy (1993-1999)
  • Other Post Graduate Training - University of Freiburg, Germany (2000-2003)
  • Fellowship - Yale New Haven Medical Center (2012-2015), Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Residency - Indiana University School of Medicine (2007-2009), Internal Medicine
  • Internship - Indiana University School of Medicine (2006-2007), Internal Medicine
  • Research Fellowship - University of Utah (2002-2006), Molecular Genetics
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • American Society for Echocardiography (2015), Member
  • American Society of Nuclear Cardiology (2015), Member
  • International Society for Magnetic Resonance (2015), Member
  • American Heart Association (2011), Member
  • American College of Cardiology (2011), Fellow
  • Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (2014), Member
  • European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (2014), Member
Honors & Awards
  • Finalist 2014, Northwestern University Young Investigator Forum
  • Scholarship 1998, TEMPUS, European Union
  • Research Stipend 2000, Hoffman La Roche, Germany
  • Fellowship Award 2000-2002, State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany
  • High Score Abstract 2014, Euro-Imaging, Vienna, Austria
Books & Publications
  • Myocardial Protection
  • Molecular Imaging
  • Mitochondrial Biology

Clinical Focus

  • Cancer & Heart Disease

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Q&A by Dr. Zaha