History of Cardiac Anesthesia at Johns Hopkins

The presence of a distinct Cardiac Anesthesia Division dates back to the 1970s when it was among the first sub-specialty divisions created within our department.  Dr. James Schauble was the first Chief of Cardiac Anesthesiology.  In 1983 Dr. Schauble was succeeded by Dr. Tom Blanck under whom the division continued to grow until his departure in 1991.  Dr. Daniel Nyhan succeeded Dr. Blanck and remained as Division Chief from 1991 through 2013.  All current cardiac faculty were recruited during this period.  Dr. Dan Berkowitz assumed the role of Chief in 2013.

Although numerous individuals from the Division have and are developing successful academic careers at other Institutions, some are especially noteworthy.
While “quality improvement” has become a current buzz word in anesthesia and medicine in general, we should not forget   that Dr. James Schauble was at the forefront of developing Quality Improvement Programs over 30 years ago, and made important Institutional and National contributions to this area.

Dr. Tom Blanck, an NIH funded investigator over several decades for his work in the area of calcium kinetics in myocytes was our division chief in the 1980’s.  Following a period at Weill Cornell Medical Center he went on to become Director/Chair of Anesthesiology at NYU for over a decade and a half.

Dr. Jeffrey Balser was one of our outstanding residents, fellows and faculty, and a world-renowned electrophysiologist focusing on the pharmacogenomics of cardiac arrhythmias.  Following his time at Hopkins, he joined Vanderbilt University School of Medicine where he progressed from senior clinician/scientist to Director of the Department of Anesthesiology, to Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Dr. Eugenie Heitmiller (Professor of Anesthesiology) at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine made innumerable seminal contributions to our Institution and to the Pediatric Anesthesiology nationally during her Hopkins career (1979-2014). Within our Cardiac Anesthesia division she was primarily responsible for creating the sub-specialty of Pediatric Cardiac Anesthesia.  She is now the Director and Anesthesiologist-in-Chief at the Children’s National Center in Washington, DC.

Dr. Elizabeth Martinez spent twenty years at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (medical student, anesthesiology resident, fellowships in critical care and cardiac anesthesiology, and faculty).  She was a recognized expert in quality improvement as assessed by objective outcome measures and the role of the team concept in quality improvement.  She moved to Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital in 2009 where she assumed a senior leadership role in her area of expertise.

Though challenging to convey at a distance, the abiding philosophy of the Division and its tripartite mission is one that transcends Divisional, Departmental, School of Medicine and even Institutional boundaries (for example, we have important collaborations with surgical colleagues, cardiologists, neurologists, as well as Biomedical Engineering, The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and other Academic centers both in the US (Penn State, Boston University, Columbia to name but a few)  and around the world. This collaborative and mutually beneficial, indeed synergistic, approach applies to our clinical service, our educational initiatives and our unparalleled accomplishments in discovery.

Our Division has had a fellowship training program since its earliest days as a sub-specialty in our Department.  The fellowship program was accredited during the first wave of ACGME accreditation for Cardiac Anesthesiology Fellowship programs and now has six accredited positions.  In addition to conforming to ACGME requirements and a rigorous, state of the art TEE Educational program, the fellows have the opportunity to undertake a myriad of electives aimed at broadening their clinical base and/or providing a foundation/starting point for a subsequent academic career.