ANN ARBOR, MICH. - The research foundation of the nation's largest group of thoracic surgeons has awarded University of Michigan's Jennifer C. Hirsch, M.D., M.S., with the Nina Starr Braunwald award, a top award for women in cardiac surgery.
Hirsch, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center, is an author and co-author of articles on surgical approaches to congenital heart defects. She is also surgical director of the pediatric cardiothoracic intensive care unit at U-M Medical Center.
She was selected to receive the award by the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education, which is affiliated with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Hirsch will use the accompanying $115,000 a year grant for the two-year project to develop an assessment tool for infants' sensory and motor skills following surgery for congenital heart defects.
According to the Foundation, the award goes to women cardiac surgeons at academic health institutions to help advance research in the specialty. It's named in honor of Braunwald, the nation's first female cardiac surgeon.
Braunwald's research interests were in artificial heart valves which she would design and fabricate herself. In1960, Braunwald led the landmark operation of the first successful human mitral valve replacement.
In her honor, the Foundation supports rising women cardiac surgeons in robust research environments who can collaborate with established senior investigators.
Hirsch, a Kalamazoo, Mich., native has contributed to significant new accomplishments in cardiac care in Michigan.
She is an assistant professor of pediatric cardiac surgery and surgical critical care intensivist in the Department of Surgery at U-M Medical School, co-director of the pediatric cardiac extracorporeal life support program and a pediatric cardiac surgeon with the fetal diagnosis and treatment center at the U-M Congenital Heart Center.
It is one of only a couple of programs in the nation to perform fetal cardiac interventions.
In 2009, Hirsch was part of the team to perform a hybrid procedure before birth on an infant girl with a congenital heart defect, the first time a successful procedure had been performed at a Michigan hospital.
Hirsch is a graduate of the University of Michigan, earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, completed residencies in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at U-M Medical Center, and has a master's degree in science, health and health care research design from U-M's Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
She is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Written by Shantell M. Kirkendoll