May 01, 2012

Martin Bocks, MD: Inventing a new device to improve cardiac care

Martin Bocks, MD
What do you do at UMHS?

I’m a pediatric cardiologist who focuses on performing interventional cardiac catheterization procedures on children and adults with congenital heart conditions. The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is a national referral center for patients requiring interventional cardiac catheterizations, and we offer the most innovative procedures to treat both simple and complex heart disease.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I get most excited when a patient is referred to me with a complex, unexplained heart condition. I thrive on the challenge of finding out what is causing the problem and then using cardiac catheterization to perform a needed intervention or to guide appropriate medical therapy. 

When you’re not working, what do you do?

My time outside the U-M Health System is spent with my wife and two daughters. Family time usually involves watching my daughters’ various sporting activities, playing games, or attending church-related events. To stay healthy, I exercise at home and play in the Ann Arbor recreational soccer league a couple nights per week. 

What is your most memorable patient experience?

One of the first catheter-based interventions I performed as an attending physician was to implant an aortic stent into one of my adult patients. The stent really helped to lower the patient’s blood pressure and reduce strain on the heart. Most importantly, following the procedure, my clinic team really worked to empower the patient to lead a healthier life. The patient now works out and is in the best shape of her life.

What was the last book you read?

I recently read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s a great story about finding and following one’s destiny in the midst of distraction and obstacles. I read it on a recent trip and it was really inspiring.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’m developing a new device that will be used to measure pressure within the hearts of our congenital heart patients without having to perform a cardiac catheterization. The device will allow us to monitor a patient’s pressure at home or in the clinic without even the slightest touch to the patient. I received a grant from the NIH to complete this work, and I’m very proud of my accomplishments so far.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

Near the end of medical school, a good friend and I hiked a very remote area of the Grand Canyon for seven days. It was a fairly hot time of year and it was a pretty grueling experience. For three days we didn’t see another hiker – quite a humbling experience to feel so small and isolated in such a vast and magnificent natural wonder.

What can’t you live without?

My morning coffee!