Philipp Bonhoeffer, who was born and grew up in Germany, moved to Italy
after his graduation and acquired his degree in Medicine and Surgery in 1989 at
the "Università degli Studi", Milan. He then went on to specialise in
cardiology at the "Università degli Studi" in Pavia.
He gained his first experience in paediatric cardiology at the
Polyclinic San Donato in Milan and at the "Ospedali Riuniti" clinic in
Bergamo, where he dedicated more and more time to researching the development
of cardiac surgery training procedures for patients with transposition of the
Philipp Bonhoeffer continued his research after his move to Paris in
1994, at the "Hôpital Necker Enfants Malades", and from 2001 at
"Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children" in London.
A major innovation of his was the invention of a new interventional
procedure, making it possible to replace the pulmonary valve without the need
to resort to another cardiac surgery that requires extracorporeal circulation.
Through this method, a piece of bovine neck vein and an incorporated
valve is sewn into a stent, which is in turn fitted onto a balloon catheter.
This is inserted via percutaneous procedures into the femoral vein, and is then
advanced to the heart and positioned at the level of the defective heart valve.
Despite the success of this device, a treatment of heart disease with
this valve can be envisaged only in a limited number of cases, due to the
extreme anatomical variability of patients. In recent years, Philipp Bonhoeffer
has engaged in the development of second-generation valves that can be used on
a majority of patients, regardless of the complexity of their anatomy.
He resorts to the help of engineers and technicians, and the support of
virtual methods such as computer simulations, sophisticated image processing
techniques and rapid prototyping, to create patient-specific valves
("Compassionate Use"). In 2009, the first successful implantation in
a patient was undertaken.
The methods developed in the course of the research for a new heart
valve system were to be utilised later in other cardiovascular medicine sectors.
Applications include the trans-catheter aortic valve, the stent for coarctation
of the aorta and pulmonary artery, the occlusors in disorders of the inter-atrial
septum, and in the systems for the extension of the left atrium.
Philipp Bonhoeffer is involved in various humanitarian projects in
developing countries, particularly in East Africa and Asia. Since his
childhood, he has been playing violin and viola. His great passion for the art
of violin-making has led him to devote himself more and more to the construction
of violins. Together with master violin-makers, technicians and engineers, Philipp
Bonhoeffer is currently involved in projects involving the study of the materials
and the sounds of violins.