P. Syamasundar Rao, M.D.

P. Syamasundar Rao, M.D., professor of pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Cardiology, is the recipient of the Xth Dr. K.C. Chaudhuri Lifetime Achievement Award 2017.

Presented by the Indian Journal of Pediatrics (IJP), the award is bestowed by the Trustees of Dr. K. C. Chaudhuri Foundation and recognizes and honors Rao’s outstanding contributions in the field of academics, research, and patient care in pediatrics.

Rao will receive the award in Delhi, India, in September at Xth Dr. K.C. Chaudhuri Oration and IJP Annual Day, where he will deliver a speech reflecting his lifetime accomplishments, which also will be published in IJP.

Rao joined McGovern Medical School in 2002 as director of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology. “I was recruited to start the division, and we started with two pediatric cardiologists, and now we have 11,” he said. The division is currently led by John Breinholt, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics.

Rao recently retired from full-time faculty status following a 45-year career in academic medicine, 15 of which were spent at UTHealth.

Before joining McGovern Medical School, Rao was on faculty at Medical College of Georgia, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Saudi Arabia, University of Wisconsin Medical School, and Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

“But this was the place I stayed the longest,” he said. “From the beginning I was interested in academic medicine. If you want to do real pediatric cardiology, this is the place.”

Rao graduated from Andhra Medical College in India and completed residencies in pediatrics at King George Hospital in India, Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, and Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix. He completed his fellowship in pediatric cardiology at Stanford University School of Medicine and at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case-Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He was a research fellow in pediatric cardiology and cardiovascular physiology at UCLA School of Medicine.

A pioneer in interventional pediatric cardiology, his contributions span the decades: catheterization and angiography in the 1970s, balloon angioplasty/valvuloplasty in the 1980s, transcatheter catheter closure of cardiac defects in the 1990s, new pediatric cardiology/pediatric cardiovascular surgery program in the 2000s and educational programs and teaching material for physicians in the 2010s.

Rao has sponsored more than 45 postdoctoral fellow and been the course director of an annual pediatric cardiology symposium for physicians for more than a decade. His teaching responsibilities include junior medical students and elective third- and fourth-year medical students as well as observers, pediatric residents, and pediatric cardiology fellows.

He has published hundreds of papers and is an invited lecturer and guest professor around the world speaking on pediatric cardiac defects, interventions, and management. He holds membership in many national and international organizations, including the American College of Cardiology, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Indian Medical Association, and the International College of Pediatrics.

His numerous honors include the Outstanding Scientist Award from American Association of Cardiologists of Indian Origin and the Outstanding Scientist Award from American Telugu Association. He delivered John Lind’s Lecture at Swedish Pediatric Association, Gothenburg, Sweden, and Kreidberg’s Lecture at Tufts University/New England Medical Center, Boston. He is the chief editor of the Pediatric Cardiology Section of Medscape and WebMD.

“I believe my most important contribution has been in interventional pediatric cardiology. Most of our patients require open heart surgery, and one of the things I have done is to try to determine how to treat these children without surgery,” he said.