Philipp Bonhoeffer, an internationally acclaimed cardiac specialist and a man of varied talents, was born in Germany. After school, he decided to pursue his medical studies in Italy and it was there, at the “Università degli Studi” in Milan, that he graduated in 1989. He stayed in Italy and became a cardiac specialist in Pavia, then at the “Polyclinic San Donato” in Milan and subsequently at the “Ospedali Riuniti” in Bergamo, focussing on the treatment of children born with cardiac flaws.
Right after university, Philipp Bonhoeffer became involved in what was to become his hallmark: the implantable cardiac valve. The cause of this was his contact with the U.S. Company NuMed, and more particularly with its chairman, Allen Tower. This extraordinary coincidence enabled Bonhoeffer to manufacture his first trial models of these implantable valves at no cost to himself.
The valve, which was known at the outset, quite rightly, as the “Bonhoeffer valve”, is today marketed by Medtronic under the brand name “Melody”. It especially concerns patients who need a new pulmonary valve, and it is implanted via a catheter, alleviating certain difficulties that traditional surgical intervention presents.
After this success, Philipp Bonhoeffer was not one to rest on his laurels, as he moved to Paris in 1994 to work at the “Hôpital Necker”. He stayed there until 2001 and then went on to London, where his work steadily increased in responsibility. In London, he was director of the Catheter Laboratory of "Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children" and was later appointed Head Physician of the Cardiac department at that same facility. It was only natural therefore that he should be appointed Professor of the UCL Institute of Child Health, which concluded his career in Britain.
A second aspect of his life’s work, but no less important of course, is Professor Bonhoeffer’s interest in the improvement of healthcare in less developed countries throughout the world. Indeed, the main attributes of his interventional methods are that they are affordable, can be used with comparatively little infrastructure, and work well under third-world conditions. This is all extremely beneficial, since his implantable valve is able to alleviate mitral stenosis, a disease that occurs frequently in such poor areas.
Professor Bonhoeffer’s career has featured a number of pioneering experiences; cases where his intervention was the first of its kind anywhere. In 2004, for example, Philipp Bonhoeffer, together with a team of Kenyan doctors, conducted the first mitral valve dilatation in Kenya on a human patient.
Some of the locations of his rich international career include “Chaine de l’espoir” (Paris), “Institut du Coeur” (Saigon, Vietnam), “Chain of Hope” (London), “Terre des Hommes” (Nairobi), “Children’s Heart Link” (Minneapolis) and the “Medtronic foundation” (Minneapolis). In 2002, he became director of the World Laboratory project, and in 2006 was awarded the “Grand Scientific Prize Foundation of Lefoulon-Delalande” from the “Institut de France”, along with Professor Francis Fontan.
Finally, there is yet another side to Philipp Bonhoeffer. He has been a dedicated violin player since childhood and now dabbles in the construction of the instrument too. Today, he spends more and more time within this field of activity.
He resides in Italy.