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Pediatrics - Cardiology

Houston, Texas

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Pediatrics - Cardiology
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Dan McNamara - Honor Page

Dan Goodrich McNamara, M.D.

Dan Goodrich McNamara, M.D.

Dr. Dan McNamara came to Houston to join Baylor College of Medicine in 1953 as the first pediatric cardiologist in Houston. In February 1954, Texas Children’s Hospital opened. Dr. Russell Blattner, the first Department Chair of Pediatrics, convinced Dr. McNamara to move his offices to Texas Children’s, where he founded the pediatric cardiology section. In June 1954, the operating rooms opened at Texas Children’s, and the first cardiac operation at Texas Children’s was performed on June 21, 1954. The first heart operation at Texas Children’s was the relief of critical pulmonary stenosis in a 3-month-old baby.

In the beginning, Dr. McNamara and Dr. Denton Cooley, a pioneer in cardiac surgery, led the pediatric cardiac program at Texas Children’s. Dr. Edward Singleton, a pioneer in pediatric radiology helped to shepherd the program. In 1955, the first pediatric cardiology fellow, Dr. Joseph Latson, entered the training program. Dr. McNamara steered the program through an incredible period of growth in pediatric cardiac care, both at Texas Texas Children's HospitalChildren’s and in the world. By the time that he turned the program over to Dr. Arthur Garson in the summer of 1988, he had fostered 108 fellows through training. Dr. Garson led the program until the summer of 1992 and saw another 38 fellows graduate from the program. Dr. J. Timothy Bricker led the program until September, 2003, when Dr. Jeffrey Towbin was named as the chief of the Lillie Frank Abercrombie Section of Pediatric Cardiology. In September, 2010, Dr. Daniel J. Penny, an internationally recognized leader in pediatric cardiology from The Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, was recruited to head the pediatric cardiology division at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's. During the history of the Texas Children’s pediatric cardiology fellowship, 230 fellows have entered the program. Graduates of the program circle the globe. Many hold leadership positions as pediatric cardiology division heads, medical school deans, and leaders at every level of medicine.

Throughout the history of pediatric cardiac care in Houston, groundbreaking work has distinguished the division. The accomplishments of the division are beyond the limits of this paragraph. Dr. Cooley showed that infant heart surgery was possible in the Cardiac Catheterization 1950s. Dr. James Nora explored the causes of congenital heart disease. Dr. Paul Gillette invented the field of invasive pediatric electrophysiology in the 1970s. Dr. Howard Gutgesell led much of the early work in pediatric echocardiography while in Houston. For thirty years, Dr. Charles Mullins led the cardiac catheterization service. Much of the field of diagnostic pediatric catheterization and pediatric intervention in the cath lab involved Dr. Mullin’s work. Dr. Jeffrey Towbin brought molecular cardiology to multiple areas of pediatric cardiac disease. Most recently, Dr. Penny has established a Cardiovascular Clinical Research Center at Texas Children's. The Center is staffed with senior research analysts, research associates, research nurses, biostatisticians and echocardiogram specialists to conduct cutting-edge cardiovascular-related research. Most importantly, his tremendous effort and contribution have made the pediatric cardiology division at BCM and Texas Children's one of the newest core centers of Pediatric Heart Network with a $2.25 million five-year grant sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at National Institutes of Health. Each of these pioneers has been accompanied by numerous colleagues in the creation of new techniques and approaches in pediatric cardiology. In 2001, Texas Children’s expanded a four floors space to the Texas Children’s Heart Center with state-of-the-art facilities dedicated to pediatric heart disease.

Today, under Dr. Penny’s broad vision and extraordinary leadership, the Section of Pediatric Cardiology is ranked number three in the nation, a great increase from last year’s number four positioning, by the 2012 U.S. News & World Report Best Children's Hospitals. Across six decades, fellows have led much of the innovation that characterizes the program. Forty-seven faculty and 22 pediatric cardiology fellows comprise the section today.

The following article is from the January 1999 edition of the Journal Circulation and is used by permission of the publisher.
© 1999 American Heart Association

Dan Goodrich McNamara passed away at his home in Houston, TX, on the morning of September 9, 1998. He had suffered an extensive stroke about 6 weeks earlier. The week before his stroke, Dan was busy seeing patients and teaching in the Cardiac Clinic at Texas Children's Hospital.

Dan was born in Waco, TX, on October 19, 1922. His early years were spent in Marlin, TX. He graduated from Baylor University in Waco in 1943 and then attended Baylor University College of Medicine shortly after the school moved to Houston. After graduation in 1946, he completed a rotating internship at the Medical Center in Jersey City, NJ. After completing his internship, he served at the United States Naval Hospital in Quantico, VA, for 2 years. He went to Hermann Hospital in Houston and Children's Hospital in St. Louis, MO, for pediatric residency, followed by pediatric cardiology training by Dr. Helen Taussig at Johns Hopkins University. His strong friendship with Dr. Taussig and with the other "Taussig Fellows" was maintained over the years, which strongly influenced the program in Houston in a very favorable manner. Dan was recruited back to Baylor University College of Medicine by Dr. Michael DeBakey after his fellowship, where he joined Dr. Denton Cooley in building Houston's heart program for children at the new Texas Children's Hospital.

He took great pride in the success of his trainees and the junior faculty. Dan's ongoing encouragement, approval, and support were influential to many young physicians who were no longer in Houston and even to many who had only briefly worked with him. Dan was one of the founders of the Section of Cardiology of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was a participant in many activities of the American Heart Association(AHA) over the years and was a strong supporter of the AHA's mission. Dan served in a number of roles in the American College of Cardiology as well, including serving as its president in 1981-1982.

Dan was a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, where he worked from the completion of his fellowship training until the time of his death. For the first 31 years on the faculty, he was the section Chief of Pediatric Cardiology. In February 1978, an endowment was provided to Dr. McNamara by Josephine Abercrombie in honor of her mother, Mrs. Lillie Frank Abercrombie, who had been on of the founders of Texas Children's Hospital. Rather than use this for an endowed chair for himself, Dan endowed research opportunities for young associates and trainees, with the section becoming the "Lillie Frank Abercrombie Section of Cardiology". In 1988, he became the Chief Emeritus. He agreed to continue in an active clinical role into his "retirement years". He thoroughly enjoyed his role in the Texas Children's Hospital Cardiac Clinic, teaching and seeing patients during this time.

Dan's numerous honors included the Distinguished Alumnus Award from both Baylor University and Baylor College of Medicine, the Distinguished Fellow and the Master Teacher Awards from the American College of Cardiology, the Founders Award of the Section of Cardiology of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Arnold J. Rudolph Lifetime Teaching Award in Pediatrics from Baylor College of Medicine. The teaching award in pediatric cardiology at Texas Children's Hospital has been named for him since 1994, and the most recent edition of The Science and Practice of Pediatric Cardiology was dedicated to him last year. The Cardiac Clinic and the Learning Resource Center of the new Texas Children's Heart Center will be named for Dan.

He is survived by 2 generations of devoted former trainees, professional associates, friends throughout the world, a host of appreciative patients and families, and his enduring academic and scholarly contributions to the field of pediatric cardiology. We will all treasure the time he spent with us, remember him fondly, and miss him greatly.

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