A Q&A with Dr. Callahan, Medical Director of CHOP’s Pulmonary Vein Stenosis Program

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ryan callahan Ryan Callahan, MD, is an attending cardiologist in the Cardiac Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Medical Director of the new Pulmonary Vein Stenosis (PVS) Program. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Dr. Callahan attended medical school at Drexel University College of Medicine and continued his training at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He joins CHOP from Boston Children’s Hospital where he spent eight years as an interventional cardiologist before being recruited to lead CHOP’s PVS program, which provides expert diagnosis, individualized therapies and ongoing care to children with pulmonary vein stenosis.

In this Q&A, Dr. Callahan discusses his interest in PVS and his hopes for CHOP’s new program.

Q: Why did you enter the field of pediatric interventional cardiology?

My early interest in science, anatomy and physiology drew me to medicine. I was particularly interested in the cardiovascular system, and all the subspecialities within the field of cardiology. While I initially pursued adult medicine, I fell in love with caring for kids during my pediatrics rotation and pivoted towards pediatric cardiology. Ultimately, I found myself in the cath (cardiac catheterization) lab, as it offered all the best parts of medicine — anatomy, physiology, imaging, intensive care and the ability to perform minimally invasive procedures.

As a fellow working in the cath lab, I met many patients with PVS and realized it is a challenging disease with significant room for improvement in outcomes. As my interest grew, so did my curiosity — I became motivated to identify knowledge gaps and increase the field’s understanding of the disease. I care for the patients and families I treat, and I have a lot of passion for this area of research.

Q: What brought you to CHOP?

CHOP has an excellent reputation as a high-volume institution with incredible research infrastructure and innovation in the cath lab. I get to work with a multidisciplinary team who shares my motivation and drive to improve PVS outcomes. As an academic interventionalist, this is the right place for me to be, and having grown up in Pennsylvania, it also gets me closer to friends and family. Everyone at CHOP has been wonderfully welcoming, and I look forward to building relationships with everyone on the Cardiac Center team.

Q: Who are your role models?

I tell my patients that Spider-Man is my hero! In reality, many people have helped influence and shape me throughout my life, including friends, family and colleagues. I have found that the best role models are mentors who you can look to for help with both clinical and personal questions, and I’ve been lucky to have had several.

Q: What are your hopes for the PVS program?

I see our program becoming the leader in PVS clinical care and research by offering the most advanced patient-specific treatment strategies and by exploring novel medical and interventional therapies. I see people like cardiologist and scientist, David B. Frank, MD, PhD, leading the way in developing a greater understanding of PVS in hopes of discovering new medical treatments. I see us continuing to collaborate with other centers across the country, working together to help these kids and ultimately achieving our shared goal of one day finding a cure.

Q: What research are you excited about now?

We recently partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital in a first-of-its-kind, multicenter trial applying a standardized assessment of PVS. We have 49 patients with known or suspected PVS enrolled, and we’re looking for 31 more. This will give us a wealth of data we’ve never seen before, allowing us to optimize current medical therapies and ultimately test new therapies.

Q: What are your hobbies?

I enjoy exercising and landscaping my property. I also try to spend as much time as I can with my family. We enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and skiing, and we also like to watch shows together and play board games.

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