Carolinas HealthCare System

CMC News
Renowned Heart Surgeon-Scientist to Lead Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at CMC
August 30, 2011
Charles R. Bridges, MD, ScD, a renowned heart surgeon and scientist, has been selected to chair the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at Carolinas Medical Center (CMC). Dr. Bridges joins the CMC and Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute team from The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he was Professor of Surgery and Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital.
“Dr. Bridges’ career as a cardiovascular surgeon and a translational and clinical scientist has been outstanding. We look forward to the insight he will bring to the overall organizational structure of our cardiovascular program at Carolinas Medical Center and Sanger,” said Paul Franz, Executive Vice President, Carolinas HealthCare System, which owns CMC.
Dr. Bridges’ extensive background in cardiovascular medicine includes minimally invasive heart surgeries and valve procedures. His capabilities will allow patients to receive “transfusion-free” or “bloodless” cardiac surgery that historically has been performed on patients with certain religious beliefs that do not allow blood transfusions. Dr. Bridges has successfully performed these complex and intricate surgeries with excellent results and has helped design some of the processes and techniques used nationally and internationally. His journal series on Jehovah’s Witness patients will appear this year in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, and will be the second largest series ever published.
“The knowledge and experience Dr. Bridges brings to CMC will not only benefit our employees and staff, but also our patients,” said Paul G. Colavita, MD, President, Sanger Heart and Vascular Institute. “Our current and future patients should know that under his leadership our team will continue to exceed quality and safety measures for our coronary bypass, valve and transplant patients. We look forward to the advancements in cardiovascular care we will be able to provide.”
Dr. Bridges is also the recipient of a $3 million, four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate novel molecular and regenerative therapies as a means to improve heart function in patients with advanced heart failure. Dr. Bridges invented the concept of “molecular cardiac surgery.” The field of regenerative medicine, according to the NIH, has the potential to address the shortage of organs available for donation. It empowers scientists to reinvigorate the patient’s own organs, and to one day grow tissues and organs in laboratories that can then be safely implanted when the body cannot heal itself.
“The addition of Dr. Bridges will bring an unparalleled level of expertise to Sanger, and will build on a tradition of academic excellence at Carolinas HealthCare System,” said James McDeavitt, MD, Chief Academic Officer, Carolinas HealthCare System. “The Southeast is unfortunately well-known for its high incidence of heart disease. Dr. Bridges’ research has the potential to positively impact the care of patients in communities we serve; I expect his influence will be national in scope.”
Besides his teaching and research responsibilities, he currently serves as a consultant to the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Circulatory System Devices Panel and is a regular member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bioengineering, Technology and Surgical Sciences Study Section.
Dr. Bridges graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University at age 19 with a degree in Engineering and Applied Physics. He continued with graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) while in medical school at Harvard where he graduated with honors and added a Doctor of Science degree from MIT in Chemical (Biomedical) Engineering. His post-graduate medical training occurred at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston as a Braunwald resident and at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He has over 100 published original manuscripts, chapters and reviews. He has been recognized as a “Top Doctor” in Thoracic Surgery in Philadelphia Magazine for eight consecutive years, and is listed among the Top Doctors in America. He was recently elected to serve on The Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons.
The CMC Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery was led from 1968 until 2010 by Francis Robicsek, MD, who is known internationally for his pioneering research and surgical advancements. Dr. Robicsek is now Chairman Emeritus of the department and is Vice President of International Medical Outreach for Carolinas HealthCare System.
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