Register here to join our In Conversation Live with Professor Jane Somerville
Professor Jane Somerville, British Emeritus Professor of Cardiology, Cardiologist to Britain's first heart transplantation, Founder of the first World Congress of Paediatric Cardiology; the Grown Up Congenital Heart (GUCH) concept; and The Somerville Foundation, will be joining Professor Roger Kirby, RSM President, for a discussion about her successful career in cardiology, how she paved the way for women in cardiology, and the important work of The Somerville Foundation.
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Professor Somerville was educated first at a boy’s preparatory school in North Wales, then Queen's College, London, and later at Guy's Hospital Medical School, where she became the first female Registrar in a male dominated hospital and appointed to house Surgeon Sir Russel Brock for a year.
Professor Somerville wanted to become a cardiac surgeon and in 1958, she became a Registrar at the National Heart Hospital where her interest in congenital heart disease led her to take on simultaneous work at the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street, London. She was then appointed as Senior Lecturer after legendary Cardiologist Paul Wood mentored her.
In 1967, during a time of significant innovations in heart surgery, Somerville was appointed as a Consultant at the National Heart Hospital. She recognised the unmet need of the increasing number of adolescents and adults who were now surviving the heart conditions they were born with, thus founding the concept of GUCH. This new group of survivors had new medical problems and some soon required repeat operations, challenging cardiologists of the time.
Professor Somerville also worked alongside Cardiothoracic Surgeon Donald Ross, who chose her to be the cardiologist for the first heart transplantation in the UK in 1968. They co-authored several innovative articles, including in 1966, the first report of the use of a homograft aortic valve to repair pulmonary atresia.
In 1972 Professor Somerville became a Consult in Congenital Heart Disease. And in 1975, after raising funds, she opened the world's first dedicated ward for children and adolescents with congenital heart disease.
Professor Somerville is the recipient of multiple awards and honours including the Gold Medal of the European Society of Cardiology. She is known internationally for her unbridled determination and leading the way for women in cardiology. The medical professionals who she has trained or who have come to celebrate and follow her are lovingly known as "Unicorns".
Professor Somerville is married to Walter Somerville and has 4 children.
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