A Heart Doctor’s First Love
Dr. Ken Fujise
What drew Dr. Ken Fujise to
the field of cardiology was the
potential to change lives through
the most advanced patient care
and the research that makes
such care possible. “We have to
constantly be making discoveries,
otherwise we will have nothing
new to offer to our patients and
coming generations,” Fujise says.
Born and educated in Japan,
the head of UTMB’s Cardiology Division chose to do
his residency in the United States in order to learn
the latest techniques and technologies. The first time
he administered thrombolytic agents to a patient, he
experienced the real and gratifying impact a cardiologist
can have on a person’s life. “I witnessed the patient’s
chest pain disappear right in front of me,” he says.
Today, post-Hurricane Ike, Fujise and his colleagues have
the chance to improve the lives of more people than
ever. In addition to seeing patients in Galveston, they are
working alongside Mainland Hospital’s well-established
cardiology department to provide specialized services and
consults, seeing patients in the UTMB clinic in the adjacent
Triple board-certified by the American Board of Internal
Medicine for general internal medicine, cardiovascular
diseases and interventional cardiology, Fujise’s
accomplishments as a researcher are equally impressive.
He has achieved Established Investigator rank with the
American Heart Association, and his research has been
supported by numerous funding agencies.
When he came to UTMB in 2007, Fujise brought 14
years’ worth of NIH-funded research with him, much of it
surrounding a gene he discovered related to the cell death
that causes atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and
heart failure. Before the hurricane, his team had made a
breakthrough, using an advanced technique to eliminate
the gene in mice. That research was lost to the storm
surge, but now the team is growing a new colony of these
mice. The end result, Fujise hopes, could be a life-changing
medication that would stop heart disease before it begins.
But when all is said and done, Fujise says his “true love” is
seeing patients. His goal? For UTMB’s Cardiology Division
to be recognized as offering the best patient care in Texas
within 10 years.