Anne Marie Valente, MD, is the outpatient director and senior fellowship director of the Boston Adult Congenital Heart Disease and Pulmonary Hypertension Program (BACH). 

What drew you to a career in medicine, and this field in particular?

As a child I was always curious about health, and while in medical school at the University of Vermont, I studied under Nancy Drucker, MD, a pediatric cardiologist who cared for adults, too. The adult congenital heart disease patient population was very inspiring to me: these people had grown up their whole lives with a chronic condition, but it didn’t limit them.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

There are several things. First is working with the Fellows and watching them become leaders in the field. Our patients respect and trust our fellows and depend on them for their care.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone we’ve trained thriving somewhere, whether it’s presenting at a conference, seeing patients, leading a clinical team or publishing research. This program is unique because Dr. Landzberg has been training cardiologists for several decades, and our trainees are going out and affecting people’s lives all around the world.

I also enjoy working with referring physicians. At Boston Children’s, there’s a unique opportunity to collaborate with referring cardiologists. We are part of the New England Congenital Cardiology Association (NECCA), a regional physician collaborative, and they explicitly invited adult congenital specialists to join. I’ve really enjoyed being part of their annual meeting. Pediatric and adult congenital specialists need to work together. Unfortunately, as patients age, there’s often a disconnect; young adults get sent off and are seen once in a while, but the critical person in their lives is the pediatric cardiologist who has known them for decades. He or she can guide me and help me do my job better to give these patients the best care.

I am fortunate to be a member of the BACH team and work with a terrific group of colleagues, both at Boston Children’s Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

What kinds of activities and hobbies are you interested in outside of work?

I like almost any sport, and I love spending time with my family in Vermont. I have a HUGE family, with two amazing brothers and lots of cousins, and we’re very close-knit.

What is the most exciting advance in the field that you have observed since you started your career?

There are a lot, but advances in non-invasive imaging have been particularly significant. We now understand much more about the myocardial function and the muscle mechanics of congenital heart defects because with non-invasive imaging, we can look at the heart muscle in a much more detailed way, seeing scars and areas of damage.

Are you currently working on any research?

I’m involved in several research areas right now. One really exciting project is a large, multi-center registry of patients with tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). We’re looking at their imaging indicators that predict poor clinical outcomes. The registry is called “Indicator” and I work on these projects in collaboration with Tal Geva, MD.

I also am very involved in research initiative through the Pregnancy and Cardiovascular Disease Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which I co-direct with Katherine Economy, MD. We’ve initiated several clinical and research protocols for women with heart disease during pregnancy. For example, we’re examining the safety of exercise during pregnancy in women with underlying heart disease, which is an unexplored area. The women wear fitness trackers, fill out activity logs, and have diagnostic testing at certain times during the pregnancy. It’s a new frontier, and we’re very excited to be able to start to answer patient questions in this growing patient population.