David Hoganson, MD, is an assistant in cardiac surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital.
How did you become interested in pediatric cardiac surgery?
I was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect (VSD) at 1 month old and had surgery at 16 months. At the time, my surgeon came up with a creative solution for what ended up being a complex arrangement of multiple muscular VSDs. After that surgery, I totally flew, and now have a normal heart size and normal function. That’s been a huge driver for me throughout my career; the appreciation of having had a complex defect and being given the chance at a normal life. Medicine isn’t for everybody, and pediatric heart surgery definitely isn’t for everybody, but I had tremendous gratitude for my care and decided from a young age that I wanted to be a heart surgeon.
You also trained as an engineer?
Yes, I went to school for engineering, with the express intent of going into pediatric cardiac surgery. During high school, I used to shadow some of the physicians in my town and would often talk with the residents about their experiences. One of them gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received: to consider majoring in something other than biology in college. He said unless I really loved biology, it was my chance to study something else I was really interested in. So, I totally switched gears and decided to major in electrical engineering. The artificial heart had just come out, and I was fascinated by it, and by the whole engineering field.
Before graduation, I did an internship with a cardiovascular medical device company outside of Philadelphia and ended up working for them for two years after graduating, managing a few projects. I continued to work for that company throughout medical school, which was a great opportunity. In fact, I continue to work on medical devices, and am very much interested in that aspect of research. It’s a great fit for who I am and where my interests lie.
What kind of research are you working on now?
I continue to develop medical devices and have two devices in development right now; both address challenges we face in the operating room during cardiac surgery. We have started a clinical trial that came out of years of research in my lab that utilizes autologous umbilical veins as BT shunts in newborns to hopefully improve outcomes in this high-risk group. My lab also is developing an engineered lung device for premature infants.
What’s your role in the Heart Center?
My role continues to evolve. I am focused on the infants, and I’m involved in the Heart Transplant Program. I also work on many other cases across the breadth of pediatric cardiac surgery including VSDs, both simple and complex, which is rewarding.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
The best thing is the great satisfaction that comes in making children well. To work with kids and to give them the chance for a normal life is what drives all of us, especially knowing that without an intervention they wouldn’t thrive or might not even survive. That’s the best part.
What kinds of activities or hobbies are you interested in outside of work?
Given my busy schedule, I spend most of my free time with my wonderful family. Our kids are very into sports of all kinds and that keeps us busy. As a Colorado native, I love to snow ski and we do that when we can as a family. Road biking and swimming are my exercise outlets.