Department of Pediatrics

Pediatric Cardiology Fellow Life


First-Year Fellows


Joe Burns, First-Year

I chose BCM/TCH fellowship because: I wanted to be surrounded by supportive, productive leaders in pediatric cardiology. I have been elated to find that this community is far more supportive, patient, and kind than I could have ever expected.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Enjoying the company of my wife and two guinea pigs, exploring Houston's diverse food scene, frequenting the many museums and parks in the Museum District
Hometown: Eustis, Fla.
Communities I identify with: Floridians, coronary heart disease patients, advocates for health equity, small mammal enthusiasts, People of American Indian descent

Paul Cooper, First-Year

I chose BCM/TCH fellowship because:
Two big reasons: the people and the program. I'm interested in adult congenital heart disease, and the opportunities to learn and work with the ACHD team here at Texas Children's was a huge pull -- and the ACHD unit on 24th floor of Legacy Tower didn't hurt either! But the people really sold me on the program, especially all the fellows I met on my interview day. I look forward every day coming to work and being a member of the fellow's office.
Outside of work, I spend my time:
Riding my bike, skiing (not near Houston unfortunately), going to sporting events (I have the Dynamo and the Astros down so far), grilling, napping
Hometown: Needham, Mass.
Communities I identify with: MedPeds graduates, East Coast transplants, wannabee hikers, cyclist commuters, mountain lovers / skiers, first generation physicians, mediocre beach volleyball players

Patrick Day, First-Year

I chose BCM/TCH fellowship because:
I wanted a program that cared about me not only as a future cardiologist but as a human as well. I found the fellows and faculty at Texas Children's to be supportive both professionally and personally in a way not often seen at high volume centers.
Outside of work, I spend my time:
Hanging out with my wife and daughter, rock climbing, and playing ultimate frisbee.
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Communities I identify with: Christians, Fathers, People who can't escape Texas, Longhorns, First generation physicians

Alex Kiener, First-Year

I chose BCM/TCH fellowship because: of the people. Texas Children's clearly has the high volume and world-renowned leaders of our field, but what surprised me was how approachable everyone was and how collaborative the environment felt. The fellow’s office exemplifies this well. Everyone is so intelligent and hardworking, but often the office feels just like a hangout with friends.
Outside of work, I spend my time: I love exploring parks, museums, and coffee shops/restaurants/breweries with my wife and our ~2 year old son. I also enjoy playing pretty much any sport/outdoor activity but specifically like running, soccer, golf, and hiking.
Hometown: North Potomac, Md.
Communities I identify with: fathers, partners who are in medicine, native east coasters, nomadic medical trainees, Arsenal supporters (aka gooners)

Derek Norton, First-Year

I chose BCM/TCH fellowship because: of the people. The world-class quality of training at BCM/TCH is no secret, but even through virtual interviews the positive energy and supportive atmosphere impressed me more than anything else. Fellowship is hard, regardless of where you do it, so it was very important to me to find a place where I would feel supported not just as a fellow physician, but as a human. So far, this program has delivered beyond expectations. Every day I am surrounded by brilliant and kind people who are more than happy to help mold this lumpy ball of clay that knows nothing into a capable pediatric cardiologist.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Cooking, home brewing, patronizing some of the many restaurants and breweries in the city (let's call it "field research"), vibing at concerts, losing my voice at sports events, golfing, yoga-ing (poorly), and dreaming of completing a triathlon. I also absolutely love games in so many forms: table-top games (Gloomhaven, DnD, Quacks,  Settlers, etc.), card games (think MtG), video games, and more.
Hometown: Prior Lake, Minn.
Communities I identify with: Midwesterners, LGBTQIA+ allies, first generation physicians, folks with no prior ties to Houston/Texas, sports enthusiasts (hopelessly devoted to the torture of MN pro sports), Manchester City supporters aka Cityzens (LOL sorry Alex), hobbyists (home cooks and home brewers), people still trying to figure out adulting.

Mounica Rao, First-Year

I chose BCM/TCH fellowship because: Not only is it one of the best heart centers in the world, it is also one of the most personable. Everyone I’ve met, from the cardiologists to the cardiac surgeons to the staff in the echo and cath labs, genuinely want to learn more about me and what they can do to help foster my professional and personal interests. And I can’t say enough about the support and guidance my co-fellows give me daily. We are a tight knit crew and that is incredibly important to me.  
Outside of work, I spend my time: Exploring new restaurants and discovering new cuisines! Houston is home to so many diverse cultures, so I never get bored exploring.
Hometown: Houston, Texas and Chandler, Ariz.
Communities I identify with: Women in Medicine, LQBTQ+ Allies, True Crime Junkies, Board Game Enthusiasts, Coffee Aficionados, Foodies, West Coasters, Nature/Hiking Lovers, Plant Moms, Dog Lovers

Carlos Sanchez Parra, First-Year

I chose BCM/TCH fellowship because:
During my interview I loved the friendly atmosphere, and the strong relationships among the cardiology fellows and attendings. There is a strong emphasis on teamwork, and from the first day of fellowship we become an essential part of the heart center team. In addition, it is a privilege to work with such great mentors and experts in the field of pediatric cardiology.
Outside of work, I spend my time:
I enjoy spending time with my family and co-fellows, trying out all the restaurants Houston has to offer, attending concerts, soccer games, and other events.
Hometown: Medellin, Colombia
Communities I identify with: Latinx, Colombians, dog owners, foodies.


Second-Year Fellows


Ryan Bishop, Second-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows office. Getting to work by the most supportive co-fellow group I could have imagined is an absolute joy. I also loved getting to ECHO while on-call from day one of fellowship with a fantastic instructional support system.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Jogging on my local hike and bike trail, walking my dog, walking to local coffee shops/restaurants just a few minutes from our place in the Heights.
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Communities I identify with: dog owners, husbands, basketball players, musicians, Texans, beach-goers.

Natalie Craik, Second-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows office. One of the attendings I interviewed with (and who trained at Baylor) told me he accepted a position at another hospital, in part, because every time he walked past the fellows' office and heard them laughing, he had 'FOMO'.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Playing with my infant son, "hiking" parking garages with my son in a baby carrier, running, cooking 
Hometown: Austin, Texas 
Communities I identify with: Mothers of human and rescue dogs, wives…of surgeons, long-distance spouses, Texans, Texans who left for residency in Phoenix and kinda wished Houston had more than 30 feet change in elevation, lovers of outdoors, hikers, born-again runners (didn't run much during residency), cyclist commuters, engineers, introverts, ex-peds chiefs.

Julie Lovin, Second-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: Learning from physicians who give extraordinary care to their patients and gain deep gladness from what they do as well as having mentors and co-fellows who genuinely care about me and make work an awesome place to be!
Outside of work, I spend my time: Eating fajitas at Lupe Tortilla, drinking beer at Baileson, and taking my dog to Galveston.
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Communities I identify with: Grace Bible Church, UVA Wahoos, crossword puzzlers, hikers, campers.

John Shabosky, Second-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: So many patients!
Outside of work, I spend my time: Visiting national parks, riding roller coasters, attempting to cook.
Hometown: McHenry, Ill. (50 miles northwest of Chicago)
Communities I identify with: Midwesterners, dog dads, childless millennials, first generation physicians

John Tadros, Second-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My co-fellows! Also the breadth of clinical and research opportunities in a friendly and supportive environment.
Outside of work, I spend my time: With family and friends, playing the piano, playing/ watching basketball.
Hometown: Amman, Jordan
Communities I identify with: Jordanians, musicians, sports enthusiasts, fellow cardiology nerds. 

Ran Xiao, Second-Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH: When looking at cardiology programs, I wanted a center that saw it all and at a volume that would guarantee I had not only the breadth but also the depth of experience to be prepared for a career in cardiology. 
Favorite part of fellowship: The fellows and attendings. Never have I met such a cohesive group of Fellows that supported each other both inside and outside of the hospital. I feel so lucky to now be a part of this big family!
Career goals/ambitions: Adult Congenital Heart Disease
Surprises about Houston: The food scene. Unbelievable the diversity and quality of restaurants here. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: Playing with my dog, running, playing tennis, learning how to keep house plants alive. 
Hometown: Several; was born in Hangzhou, China. Grew up in Lexington, Ky. and the suburbs of Chicago. Go Bears!
Communities I identify with: Midwesterners, first generation immigrants, Chinese-Americans, volunteer-corps members.


Third-Year Fellows


Michael Bruno, Third-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows' office! The atmosphere here is amazing with tons of camaraderie and support/teamwork. There are also so many funny things happening throughout the day, and the best snacks around. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: Biking around to all my favorite Houston coffee shops, parks, beer gardens, and restaurants. Also reading by the pool, working out, and making the occasional spontaneous camping/road trip. 
Hometown: Amesbury, Mass.
Communities I identify with: bike commuters, New Englanders, skiers, first generation physicians.

Ryan Byrne, Third-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows. This group is incredibly hard working, compassionate, and fun. Things our fellow crew is good at: making each other laugh, being there for each other inside and outside of the hospital, teaching each other about cardiology, teaching each other about life.
Outside of work, I spend my time: With my family, working in the yard, or going on runs.
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Communities I identify with: Husbands, fathers, girl dads, amateur landscapers, book worms, sports enthusiasts, Catholics.

Patrick Connell, Third-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My co-fellows. We are a big family. We support each other when things get difficult and have lots of fun together both in the office and outside of work. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: Playing with my children and spending time with my wife. Playing Dungeons and Dragons. 
Hometown: Somers, Conn.
Communities I identify with: New Englanders, fathers, first-generation college graduates, first-generation physicians, physician-scientists, pet owners, people who live in the suburbs, Dungeons and Dragons nerds.

Teddy Jones, Third-Year

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellow-centric culture at the Heart Center is second to none. Cardiology fellows are universally respected amongst attendings and given the trust and leeway to develop quickly through experience. We are consistently spoiled with support from a leadership team that prizes our fellowship as an integral part of our department.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows' office. It's like a Room of Requirement (for my Harry Potter fans out there) - it always gives you what you need. Whether its congratulations on nailing a challenging surgical presentation, commiseration after a long call night, or countless irreverent inside jokes, the fellow's office is always the best place in the hospital and filled with incredible people.
Career goals /ambitions: Cardiovascular genetics
This surprised me about Houston: The incredibly diverse dining scene. It feels like there are several new James Beard Award nominees or winners every year, and my wife and I are passionate about spending far too much of our disposable income on food.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Running and biking so that I can eat more of Houston's food!
Hometown: Palo Alto, Calif.

Ruthie Morrison, Third-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: Hands down the people. Our fellowship program is a huge family, and we do whatever we can to support each other. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: I enjoy cycling and playing tennis, but most recently I have gotten into pickleball! It is so fun! I also love exploring the diverse food scene in Houston and attempting to cook myself. 
Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
Communities I identify with: UVA Hoos, Christian, terrible singer, lover of food and outdoors.

Michelle Pelka, Third-Year

Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My favorite part of Texas Children's fellowship is the endless opportunities for experiences/learning and how cool my co-fellows are. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: With my dog, by the pool, trying new restaurants, seeing family/friends.
Hometown: Chicago-land area 
Communities I identify with: dog mom, midwesterners, lovers of outdoors.


Fourth-Year Fellows


Vincent Gonzalez, Fourth-Year (ACHD)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I wanted to train at a large institution with high volume and exposure to the full breadth of congenital heart disease. I felt that Texas Children's Hospital would allow me to learn by seeing and doing, in addition to being around a great group of hard-working professionals. 
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: I enjoy the teamwork mentality at Texas Children's and working with my fantastic group of co-fellows.
Career goals /ambitions: I am planning to pursue advanced training in adult congenital heart disease and will likely stay within clinical academia.
This surprised me about Houston: Being from California and having lived in the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast, I was a bit wary about moving to the Lone Star State. However, my family and I were pleasantly surprised at the affordability, diverse restaurant scene, and seasonable weather (for at least half of the year when it's not swelteringly hot).
Outside of work, I spend my time: Playing with my three children and spending time with my wife, working on my golf game, and attempting to be a mixologist by trying new cocktail recipes.
Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

Malena Gutierrez, Fourth-Year (EP)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I learn best by doing, so a high-volume fellowship was a must, and there's a reason Texas Children's is world-renowned in Cardiac care. Truly, what made the final decision was the feel of a supportive group of fellows, with different backgrounds, personalities, lifestyles, who were happy to be here and work together.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The fellows. You are welcomed by a supportive, active, energetic group of people who will teach you, help you and guide you, while letting you explore the field at your own pace.
Career goals /ambitions: EP stole my heart, with medical education as a strong second. 
This surprised me about Houston: The green areas. I was surprised to find so many parks, trails and outdoor to-dos. 
Outside of work, I spend my time: Anything outdoors, watching "Friends," eating out (or dining in) with my co-fellows, on FaceTime with family and friends far away.
Hometown: Lima, Peru
Communities I identify with: Peruvians, international physicians, multicultural families/relationships, Spanish speakers, dog lovers, volleyball players and soccer watchers.

Sonia Kaushal, Fourth-Year (HF/Transplant)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I wanted to train at a high-volume institution where I would to learn by doing and get exposed to a wide variety of conditions.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: My co-fellows, they're some of the smartest and kindest people I know.
Career goals /ambitions: HF/Transplant, with an interest in QI
This surprised me about Houston: The food scene! It's crazy how as a city Houston continues to grow and it feels like there's always something new to try out.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Exploring coffee shops and restaurants, spending time with friends, and planning my next trip.
Hometown: North Brunswick, N.J.
Communities I identify with: Northeasterners, hikers, lovers of the outdoors, amateur photographers, foodie want-to-be.

Melodie Lynn, Fourth-Year (HF/Transplant)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I wanted a busy program where I would get exposure to the most pathology in three short years. I really enjoyed my interview day and thought the fellows I met seemed like great humans. I am originally from Texas, so being closer to family was also a nice perk.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The other fellows! We are like a big family.
Career goals /ambitions: Heart Failure/Cardiomyopathy/Cardiac Transplant. I would like to work at an academic institution because I like teaching and want to make young minds interested in the great field of pediatric cardiology.
This surprised me about Houston: There is more green space in Houston than I thought. I really like being outdoors and did a lot of hiking in residency, so was pleasantly surprised that there are some pretty cool outdoor spaces not too far from the hospital.
Outside of work, I spend my time: I like to spend time with friends and family. I really enjoy being outside, so if I can combine friend/family time with outdoor time even better!
Hometown: Sweetwater, Texas
Communities I identify with: mothers of human and dogs, wives, Texans, adoptees, lovers of outdoors, hikers.

Doaa Shahbah, Fourth-Year (Cath)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: I chose Texas Children's as it is one of the biggest and most amazing pediatric cardiology fellowships, number one nationwide, with a very busy and strong cardiology environment that will heavily enrich my knowledge and experience.
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: Friendly, very supportive and encouraging environment.
Career goals/ambitions: Interventional cath. Plan to go back to my hometown and establish a unit in my hospital. 
This surprised me about Houston: Interesting parks and great diversity, more than I expected.
Outside of work, I spend my time: Jogging, hanging out with family and friends.
Hometown: Zagazig, Sharkia, Egypt. It is a hub of cotton and corn trade in Egypt and Sharkia is famous for its peoples' generosity.
Communities I identify with: mothers, wives, Egyptians, lovers of outdoors, joggers

Stephen Williams, Fourth-Year (Imaging)

Why I chose BCM/TCH fellowship: The people here are brilliant and enthusiastic teachers. Plus the volume and exposure to all forms of both common and exceedingly rare congenital heart disease is invaluable. I wanted to be comfortable taking care of any physiology and learn from the best. 
Favorite part of BCM/TCH fellowship: The love and support from all of my co-fellows. So much of our fellowship experience is shaped by who we work with every day and the fellows office is full of learning, laughing, and uplifting each other.
Career goals and ambitions: Fourth-Year advanced imaging training followed by a balanced academic practice. 
This surprised me about Houston: The amount of diversity continues to grow and the food scene does not disappoint.  
Outside of work, I spend my time: Chasing three crazy tornadoes around my house whom I call children. Traveling with the family. 
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Communities I identify with: Texans, husbands, fathers, first generation physicians