Internationally renowned pediatric cardiologist Achi Ludomirsky, M.D., has been named the director of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology and a professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine. He also will serve as the Louis Larrick Ward Chair in Pediatric Cardiology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“Achi is a pioneer in fetal and pediatric heart imaging and one of the most prominent pediatric cardiologists in the country,” said Alan L. Schwartz, Ph.D., M.D., the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor and head of the Department of Pediatrics. “He brings a broad vision and a commitment to excellence in patient care, education and advancing our understanding of heart disease in children.
“We are delighted he has chosen to join the School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.”
Ludomirsky is known for his instrumental role in the development of novel imaging and therapeutic procedures for children with congenital heart disease, including transesophageal echocardiography, three-dimensional echocardiographic reconstruction and therapeutic ultrasound.
While at the School of Medicine, he hopes to develop ways to use ultrasound not only for imaging but also for noninvasive treatment of pediatric cardiac lesions.
“Washington University has an outstanding group of pediatric cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons, state-of-the-art imaging capabilities and a close collaboration between the physics, biomedical and OB-GYN departments,” he said. “By enhancing all three components of our mission — patient care, research and education — I am confident we will make this division one of the top five in the United States within the next five years. If we cannot do it, I will consider it my personal failure.”
In the few months he’s been at the University, the Fetal Heart Center has been established. The center will provide support to mothers of infants with congenital heart disease, even before their babies are born. As soon as a diagnosis is established, mothers will consult with a pediatric cardiologist, a pediatric cardiovascular surgeon, a geneticist, an OB-GYN and a social worker.
“These mothers and their families will have a resource to which they can always turn, during pregnancy and continuing after the baby is born,” Ludomirsky said. “They will know early on what to expect in regard to treatments and surgeries for their babies’ heart conditions.”
Ludomirsky also plans to establish a digital imaging laboratory. Digital imaging will improve communication with the hospital and medical school staff as well as enhance the University’s relationship with the 11 other satellite clinics in the state. He also plans to expand the division by recruiting six more physicians over the next three years.
“I want families from all over the world who have a child with congenital heart disease to come here because they know this is where their child will get the best care,” he said.
After earning his medical degree from the Sackler Medical School at Tel Aviv University in Israel, Ludomirsky served his country as a major and a physician in the research and development branch of the Medical Corps of the Israel Defense Forces, where he was stationed on the front lines.
He then completed a residency in pediatric cardiology at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, followed by a fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Ludomirsky came to Washington University from the University of Michigan, where he was director of the echocardiography laboratory at the Michigan Congenital Heart Center at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
Deciding to come to Washington University was an easy decision for Ludomirsky. He said it took him “less than one minute” to join the medical school faculty because of the amazing opportunity to combine clinical care with research and education.
Ludomirsky’s wife, Irit, and youngest daughter, Avital, 14, are enjoying St. Louis but still head back to the University of Michigan for Wolverine football games.
The couple’s son, Ohad, 27, works in Chicago as a financial consultant and their oldest daughter, Efrat, 23, moved back to Israel last year to work as an event planner for medical conferences.
“I am the luckiest man in the world because of my wife and family,” he said. “My wife is the reason why I have been able to devote my career to improving the lives of children with congenital heart disease.”