Dr. Backer Named New Chief of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at KCH

After a national search, Carl Lewis Backer, MD, has been named the new chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Kentucky Children’s Hospital (KCH), effective May 18. His primary appointment will be at Cincinnati Children’s, but he will be based in Lexington.

As director, Dr. Backer will lead the KCH Division of the Joint Pediatric Heart Care Program, a collaboration with Cincinnati Children’s that combines the strength of UK HealthCare's advanced pediatric heart care with that of their Cincinnati counterpart, one of the country's leaders in children's health care. 

“I am thrilled to be joining a truly exceptional team of people dedicated to providing the absolute best possible care to children with congenital heart disease,” said Dr. Backer.

Dr. Backer joins KCH from the Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, where he served as the surgical director of the pediatric heart transplant program and the A.C. Buehler Professor of Surgery since 2001. He has been an attending surgeon in the Division of Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgery since 1988, and served as head of that division from 2008 to 2018.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Backer join our talented pediatric heart care team,” said Dr. Scottie B. Day, physician-in-chief at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. “Our one program, two sites model has been an incredible success, and with Dr. Backer’s extensive experience as surgeon, leader and educator, he will continue our mission of providing world-class, comprehensive cardiac care to our patients close to home.”

The Joint Pediatric Heart Care Program launched in 2017, and has continued to grow in volume and acuity with excellent outcomes. There have been more than 200 surgical cases performed at KCH through the end of January 2020. Backer is taking over the role previously held by Dr. James Quintessenza, to continue the record of excellence he helped establish.

“Dr. Backer is an exceptional talent and leader in the congenital heart surgery community with a long track record of important contributions in the clinical, academic and educational arenas,” said Dr. James Tweddell, professor of surgery and executive co-director of the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s. “His commitment to clinical quality makes him the best choice to build on the success of our joint program that provides Kentucky families top-ranked cardiac care.”

Dr. Backer is involved with a number of prestigious societies and organizations, currently serving as president of the Mayo Alumni Association as well as a director with the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He served in the past as the president of the Congenital Heart Surgeons Society, a fellow for the American Surgical Association and the American Heart Association and is on the governing council for the World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery. He has also served a number of academic appointments at Northwestern University Medical School.

He has authored more than 400 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and edited six textbooks on cardiac surgery, served on the editorial boards for a number of publications, and presented nearly 500 papers and abstracts at conferences around the world.

Dr. Backer completed his undergraduate education at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and his medical training at the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota. His residency took place at Northwestern University McGaw Medical Center, and he completed a fellowship in pediatric cardiovascular thoracic surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.