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Faculty Spotlight: Andrew Walker McCrary, MD

Friday, September 27, 2019
Andrew McCrary, MD

This week’s faculty spotlight shines on pediatric cardiologist Andrew McCrary, MD. McCrary talks to us about how he first became interested in pediatric cardiology after becoming fascinated with congenital disease and caring for children living abundant lives despite health challenges; his excitement about new echo based methods of quantifying non-left ventricular shapes and new methods of calculation of ventricular efficiency and work; and his experience studying early cardiac dysfunction in children and adolescents with perinatally acquired HIV in Eldoret, Kenya.

How long have you been at Duke? How did you decide to come here?
I came to Duke in 2012 for pediatrics residency, stayed for pediatric cardiology fellowship, and now for my first faculty appointment.

After interviewing for pediatric residencies, my wife and I discussed each program. When I came to Duke, I said that seems like a place where we could be happy for a long time. So far that has been true and now here for over 7 years, I am just transitioning to a new role.

What are your current responsibilities within the Department of Pediatrics? What does your typical day look like?
I am predominantly clinical. I have 1 week of attending the cardiology service per month. When not on service, I have cardiology outpatient clinic and I contribute to the non-invasive imaging team as a core imager.

How did you first get interested in medicine? What made you decide to pursue pediatric cardiology in particular?
I was interested in medicine early with an initial inclination towards adult cardiology. Transitioning to pediatric cardiology was a two-step process. First during my surgical clerkship, I had 4 weeks on the pediatric surgery service. During that month, I became initially fascinated with congenital disease, but later much more interested in the children living abundant lives despite health challenges. These interests came together for me in pediatric cardiology while participating in home visits of families of a child with shunt dependent. There are so many challenges for these families but also so much life. I am very proud to participate in the care of these children and their families.

What’s one thing you wished more of your patients knew about pediatric cardiology or medicine in general?
Jokingly, that I am not a surgeon.

What are your specific interests in the field of pediatric cardiology medicine?
I am clinically interested in non-invasive cardiac imaging. The care of single ventricle patients from inpatient to outpatient. In both of these domains, I am interested in understand myocardial function and prediction of functional decline.

Is there any research or other special projects you are doing or plan on doing?
I am very excited about new echo based methods of quantifying non-left ventricular shapes and new methods of calculation of ventricular efficiency and work.

Can you tell us about your research experience in Kenya?
With support from the Duke Hubert-Yeargan Center for Global Health and an NIH Fogarty Global Health Fellowship, I was able to study early cardiac dysfunction in children and adolescents with perinatally acquired HIV in Eldoret, Kenya. Enrolling 643 participants, we found that continuous measures of cardiac function were negatively impacted by increasing soluble markers of inflammation, and protected with increasing percentage of life on combination ART. Importantly, same-day HIV RNA levels had little impact on cardiac function.

Overall, it was a tremendous experience for my professional growth, but also personal growth as my family was able to join me in Eldoret for the academic year.

You completed your residency and fellowship here at Duke--do you have any advice for trainees?
While I have had excellent experiences within my programs or divisions, my most formative connections have been outside of my programs (adult cardiology, biomedical engineering, global health, and history of medicine). My advice to Duke trainees is to keep a wide view of the university and how you can contribute to and benefit from the whole university community.

What passions or hobbies do you have outside of work?
My current passions and hobbies outside of work begin and end with my family. We have 3 boys (8yo, 4yo, 2 mo) and a dog. Together we enjoy summers at the pool and now Duke football games. I have found that the football tickets are easier to come by than other sports at Duke.