Charles Fraser joins Dell Medical School to work on the hearts of Texas

Brooke Vincent

With more than 10,000 heart surgeries and a 25-year career treating congenital heart disease under his belt, Charles Fraser will bring his expertise to Dell Medical School when he returns to his alma mater as the school’s newest faculty member. 

Set to begin work this summer, Fraser was hired as a professor in the Department of Surgery and Perioperative Care and in the Department of Pediatrics. He will also serve as the chief of pediatric and congenital cardiothoracic surgery at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.

“This rare opportunity to be an early participant in a new medical school in the greatest university system in the country (is) pretty much an unparalleled opportunity in my career,” Fraser said. “You never know when these things are going to come around in life, but it all came together in a really providential way.”

Over the past 17 years, Fraser was the surgeon-in-chief of the congenital heart surgery program at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. His program was ranked No. 1 nationally by U.S. News and World Report. Fraser will now help build the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease program at the Dell Children’s Medical Center.

“What makes him a great surgeon is not just his ability but the program he built over time,” said Byron Holt, chief of cardiology at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas. “(He has) a wealth of experience. When you add someone with that sort of experience and demonstrated expertise, they can’t help but make (the program) better.”

In his upcoming clinical research at the Dell Medical School, Fraser said there will be a focus on quality of life beyond the patient’s surgery. 

“Obviously, survival is critically important, but now we’re able to focus on participation in life’s important activities like work, sports (and) having families and children,” Fraser said. “That’s something that we’re really excited about as we build a new program.”

Dell Medical student Joshua Morris said Fraser’s holistic approach to health care fits into the goals and values of the Dell Medical School. Morris said there is excitement among the students in a “big name” pediatric surgeon coming in as a professor.

“(He is) someone with a huge personal sample size to bring expertise to,” Morris said. “He’s really the herald of rethinking how we define success in health care. He’s got enthusiastic and excited students. We’re all ready to rethink everything.”

Fraser said teaching has been a part of his entire professional career and said his move to UT will be an opportunity to continue operating on the leading edge of the medical field while working alongside students.  

“My wife comments all the time that I was born to be a teacher,” Fraser said. “It’s part of my professional responsibility, frankly, to help the next generation of practitioners, researchers and educators who carry the field forward. From my perspective, these students are part of an extraordinary new paradigm.”