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Real Estate Bisnow
August 7, 2008

Suburban on
Cutting Edge
of Heart Surgery


It’s not a great time to be a pig at Suburban Hospital, unless you’ve always wanted to donate your body to science. On the other hand, the cardiothoracic surgeon Philip Corcoran utilizing our porcine friends for research tells us it might be as good a time as any for a heart attack. (He didn’t actually phrase it that way.) The sci-fi-esque research coming out of the NIH Heart Center at Suburban Hospital has them on the cusp of great things that we had to see for ourselves.


Suburban’s partnership with NIH expedites the translation of research into mainstream medical procedures. One example is cross-species organ transplants (xenotransplants, but you knew that). It’s common to transplant heart valves from pigs into humans, but Philip has his eye on the whole heart. He’s currently working on manipulating genes in the pigs that would eliminate the need for post-transfer immunosuppressants in humans. They’re years away from attempting a full transplant, but they are modeling the effort by transferring porcine hearts into non-human primates.


Note to future interviewees: If we’re bothering you, you can just ask us to leave. Pretending to type on a keyboard that’s clearly not connected to anything is too subtle a hint. Another main research area is transcatheter percutaneous valve replacement surgery. (A synthetic valve is inserted via a cut in the patient’s leg in lieu of open-heart surgery.) Philip says they’re being conducted on an investigative basis (pigs!), and the next step is submitting 6-month results to the FDA. Other research facilities are using the procedure on critically ill patients, but Suburban’s goal is to take it mainstream.


In 2006, after retiring from 24 years of service at Walter Reed, Philip teamed with Keith Horvath to start the Heart Center. Both men have more in common than their cardiothoracic passion: Each has twin daughters, and, both sets are 11-years old. (Eerie, right?) Philip tells us the addition of a third surgeon later this year, from the University of Pittsburgh, will free up more time for research. (He currently spends about 60% of his time on research and 40% on clinical matters.) That little extra time probably also won’t hinder his other passion: beating Keith at golf.

Are you secretly performing procedures without FDA approval? Great! Tell us about it. We won’t tell. Or, even better, we’ll write the story and put somebody else’s head on your body. Cindy Crawford? Will Smith? Michael DeBakey? Send feedback and story ideas to Curtis@Bisnow.com

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