March 12, 2022 – Charles D. Fraser, Jr., M.D., an internationally recognized congenital heart surgeon, has been named the inaugural Executive Director of the new Institute for Cardiovascular Health, a collaboration between Ascension Texas and The University of Texas at Austin, including its Dell Medical School. The announcement marks the launch of a fully integrated heart care model in the Texas capital.
Dr. Fraser is a professor of Pediatrics and Surgery and the founding Chief of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery for the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease – a clinical affiliation between Dell Children’s Medical Center and UT Health Austin, Dell Med’s clinical practice.
“Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide,” said Dr. Fraser. “The societal impact of cardiovascular illness is profound, and we have a very long way to go in the critical work needed to improve the sobering realities of this issue. To address this national health problem, UT Austin and Ascension Texas are creating this unique care model to deliver individualized, whole-person care that gives every patient their greatest opportunity to recover and thrive. The model fosters an environment in which medical professionals with a wide range of skills and expertise can focus their attention and energy on treating patients in every phase of life.
“From taking care of unborn patients in utero to addressing issues that affect people in their 70s, 80s, and beyond, we believe that a multidisciplinary team associated with a medical school, a health system built upon a large cardiology practice, and a preeminent, major public research university provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of patients and their families,” said Dr. Fraser. “I am humbled and excited to lead the development of our new Institute for Cardiovascular Health. Through this collaboration, we are building an integrated model of cardiovascular care based on providing services of uncompromising quality and that, we believe, will set the standard for cardiovascular medicine in Central Texas and beyond.”
"Heart disease is a serious national issue, and to address it requires a complex, collaborative effort," said Andy Davis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ascension Texas. “At Dell Children's Medical Center, we have the only pediatric program in Central Texas that offers comprehensive heart care for newborns, infants, children and adolescents, thanks to Dr. Fraser and the team. As part of our collaboration with the medical school and UT Austin, we will combine the strong clinical programs and expertise of the cardiologists at Ascension Texas Cardiovascular, built over the past 12 years under the leadership of Mark Pirwitz, MD, to create a model that will be a world-class, integrated academic system of heart care that will become a nationally recognized destination for the most advanced care and best outcomes,” said Davis.
C. Martin Harris, M.D., interim Vice President of Medical Affairs at UT Austin and professor of Internal Medicine at Dell Med said, “There is an energy associated with a medical school and a major university that you can feel in the way people look at problems, and in our approach to educating and training the next generation of clinician leaders.”
"Based in Austin, one of America’s most vibrant and fastest-growing cities, the new Institute for Cardiovascular Health is poised to attract exceptional medical professionals to build their careers, raise their families, and make their own contributions to the state of contemporary clinical practice,” added Harris.
“Dr. Fraser is not only a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin, he is a remarkable force for good. We are fortunate that his new institute will operate as part of the collaboration between The University of Texas and Ascension Texas,” said Jay Hartzell, president of UT Austin. “Together, we are attracting some of the finest medical talent in the world to come to Austin. These are people who have committed themselves to improving the lives of others, who are making an incredible positive impact on our community, and who will permanently change the availability of world-class cardio care in Central Texas.”
“Additionally,” added George Macones, MD, interim Dean of the Dell Medical School and Chair, Department of Women's Health, “this collaboration, with its focus on providing heart care for the range of conditions that can affect children, men and women over a lifetime, will create a simply outstanding educational and research environment that will promote the discovery of new knowledge from the laboratory bench, to the bedside, while facilitating the training of tomorrow’s clinician leaders who will care for the hearts of Texas, and anyone, anywhere, who is in need of a specialized medical or surgical treatment or intervention.”
Dr. Fraser earned his medical degree from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, completed a residency in surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and a fellowship in pediatric heart surgery at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. He has developed dedicated programs in pediatric cardiac anesthesiology, perfusion and cardiopulmonary transplantation. And he is a longstanding and influential advocate of public reporting of surgical outcomes and transparency.