A physician-scientist dedicated to kids’ cardiac health
There aren’t many doctors who do what Dr. Frank Raucci does.
As a pediatric cardiologist, diagnosing and treating heart conditions in kids is his specialty. Yet beyond the bedside, he spends much of his time “at the bench” in laboratories, researching ways to improve the care he and other doctors like him provide.
“Unlike our peers who treat adults, in pediatrics, we have relatively few physician-scientists who participate in research, and I’ve dedicated many years of training to fill that role,” Dr. Raucci says. “Cardiac care in children has traditionally been understudied from a scientific standpoint, so I felt like I could make an impact on patients not only through care, but by helping understand the underlying mechanisms of heart disease in children. I take the questions we get at the bedside to the research bench — and back into the hospital to improve care for kids.”
In addition to his research, Dr. Raucci provides inpatient cardiac care at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. He has subspecialty training in pediatric cardiac CT, MRI and echocardiography imaging techniques for diagnosing and treating both congenital and acquired heart disease in kids.
He also works with CHoR’s neurology team and its neuromuscular multispecialty clinic. Neuromuscular cardiology — diseases related to the heart muscle and nerves — is Dr. Raucci’s primary area of focus, and the specialty has a number of promising genetic therapies and treatments in development. “Over the next decade, we will have a better understanding of the genetic and molecular mechanisms of congenital and acquired heart disease in children, which should help us develop new therapies that provide improved quality of life,” Dr. Raucci says.
It’s also a particularly exciting time to be a pediatric physician in Central Virginia, the assistant professor at the VCU School of Medicine notes, as CHoR constructs the $400 million inpatient hospital that will complete an entire city block dedicated to the care of kids by 2023. “I am thrilled to help grow the pediatric cardiology program here and also to help develop VCU into a ‘Center of Excellence’ for research and care of patients with neuromuscular diseases,” he says.
With focus, flexibility, and empathy, Dr. Raucci calls it “a privilege” to develop relationships with patients and families of varied backgrounds, and many with challenges — medical, social, financial — on top of the health issues. “Every patient is unique, and my goal is to help each child and their families have the best quality life they possibly can in the setting of their heart disease,” he says.
Dr. Raucci is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, Biophysical Society, American Physician Scientist Association, and Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance.