Frederick Chen, MD, recently joined Tufts Medical Center as Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery and Director of the Cardiac Surgery Program. Highly regarded nationally for his outstanding patient care and his innovative medical research, Dr. Chen is also an engineer who works to apply engineering principles and solutions to understanding and treating heart failure. We caught up with Dr. Chen recently to ask how it’s going in his new position.
Q. You joined Tufts Medical Center last fall, how are you finding things?
A. It’s been wonderful. Tufts Medical Center provides care that is second to none. It's an institution that's very patient- and family-centered, and that speaks directly to my priorities. The combination of the very best care in a warm, family atmosphere is unique.
Q. You have both a master’s degree and a PhD in engineering from Harvard and MIT. How can engineering principles and solutions be applied to treating heart failure?
A. When you think about it, the heart is essentially a mechanical pump and blood is a fluid. They’re both important parts of a system that would be very recognizable to an engineer. I always knew that I wanted to pursue both engineering and medicine. Many people know that Barney Clark as the recipient of the first artificial heart. I was quite taken with Dr. Robert Jarvik, who led the team that developed that Jarvik 7 heart, and William DeVries, the cardiac surgeon who implanted it. I wanted to be both of those guys in one.
Q. Tell us about what you do at Tufts Medical Center.
A. My practice spans the broad spectrum of adult cardiac disease. I provide surgical treatments for all heart-related conditions including valvular heart disease, thoracic aortic disease and coronary artery disease. In addition to providing patient care, I have administrative duties. The division is also building our cardiothoracic surgery residency program. My personal goal is to make it a strong, robust program that produces cardiac and cardiothoracic surgery academic leaders..
Q. What are your longer-term goals for your work at Tufts Medical Center?
A. Tufts Medical Center and Boston Medical Center just launched a joint cardiac surgery program. We’re combing two excellent, well-staffed and complementary programs to leverage their size and capacity. Our goal is to have a cardiac surgery program in the city of Boston that's second to none in the nation. The whole is really greater than the sum of its parts, and I am excited about building the program together.