Seattle Children’s Hospital appoints new division chief for cardiothoracic surgery

Jonathan Chen, MD, is the new co-director of Seattle Children’s Heart Center and division chief for pediatric cardiothoracic surgery.


Seattle Children’s Hospital today announced the appointment of Jonathan Chen, MD, as the new division chief for pediatric cardiothoracic surgery and co-director of the Heart Center.

Chen comes to Seattle Children’s from New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he served most recently as the chief of pediatric cardiac surgery and director of pediatric cardiovascular services at the Weill Cornell campus and surgical director of pediatric heart transplantation at the Columbia campus. He was the David Wallace-Starr Foundation Professor of cardiothoracic surgery and pediatrics at Cornell University and one of the first in the country to earn the American Board of Thoracic Surgery’s new certification in congenital heart surgery in 2003.

“After a national search that identified several outstanding candidates, Dr. Chen emerged as a superb communicator, a collaborative leader, an effective program builder, and a gifted surgeon,” said Robert Sawin, MD, surgeon-in-chief at Seattle Children's Hospital. “He is a national leader in the treatment of heart failure and will be a great boost to an already superb team. With his leadership, we are poised to become the best cardiac program in the nation.”

As co-director of Seattle Children’s top-ranked pediatric cardiology and heart surgery program, Chen will oversee a team that performs 400 surgeries a year and has transplanted 116 hearts since 1994. Chen says he was drawn to pediatric heart surgery because of the unique opportunity to give children a chance at life.

“The congenital field is particularly challenging because we have to plan for the growth of the child over time,” said Chen. “We have to think really long term, over a child’s lifetime. It’s challenging, but it’s very rewarding. If you operate on a five-day-old, they could have 90 years value added from it. That an incredible reward over time.”

Chen’s research interests lie in developing ventricular assist devices for infants and children suffering from heart failure. He has led several research trials with the goal of improving the systems that act as a bridge to transplant, including a National Institutes of Health grant evaluating long-term mechanical ventricular assistance. Chen will also hold the title of professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Seattle Children’s Heart Center

Established in 1995, Seattle Children’s Heart Center cares for patients throughout the Northwest, including in Montana and Alaska. Children’s heart team is leading the way in care for children with heart defects through services like fetal echocardiography and less-invasive hybrid procedures that reduce the need for open-heart surgery. Learn more: www.seattlechildrens.org/heart.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Hospital, Foundation and Research Institute together deliver superior patient care, advance new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients. Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s Hospital specializes in meeting the unique physical, emotional and developmental needs of children from infancy through young adulthood. Through the collaboration of physicians in nearly 60 pediatric subspecialties, Seattle Children’s Hospital provides inpatient, outpatient, diagnostic, surgical, rehabilitative, behavioral, and emergency and outreach services to families from around the world.

Located in downtown Seattle’s biotech corridor, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is pushing the boundaries of medical research to find cures for pediatric diseases and improve outcomes for children all over the world. Internationally recognized investigators and staff at the research institute are advancing new discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention, bioethics and much more.

Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation and Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association work together to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care, clinical care and research. The foundation receives nearly 80,000 gifts each year, from lemonade stand proceeds to corporate sponsorships. Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, serving as the umbrella organization for 450 groups of people who turn an activity they love into a fundraiser. Support from the foundation and guild association makes it possible for Seattle Children’s care and research teams to improve the health and well-being of all kids.

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