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Authors > Robert Bonow, MD

“The excitement, the advances, and the science have not only kept me going, but have also had major implications for the well-being of our patients.” -Robert Bonow, MD

From Engineering to Cardiology

I started my career in engineering. My undergraduate degree is in chemical engineering, but I realized halfway through that the curriculum was not going to be fulfilling for me. So, I gravitated first to biomedical engineering and then ultimately into medicine itself. As my career has evolved, I’ve realized that some of the principles I learned in engineering are very pertinent in cardiology. It was kind of natural for me, given my engineering background, as well as the love I developed for the physiology and pathophysiology of heart disease. I’m also fascinated by the enormous public health implications, so I’ve moved quite smoothly into some important areas in cardiovascular medicine. I trained in an era in which we didn’t have answers for lots of the problems we were facing with our patients. The excitement, the advances, and the science have not only kept me going, but have also had major implications for the well-being of our patients.

Building Upon Greatness

Dr. Braunwald has been a leader and preeminent force in cardiology throughout the second half of the 20th century. I had the opportunity to meet him for the first time when I was still a fellow at the National Institutes of Health, several years after he had left the NIH. His gravitas and his breadth of science and ingenuity are well known to all of us. I was delighted when he invited me to write a chapter for his book. Braunwald’s Heart Disease was already the preeminent book in the field. Later, Dr. Braunwald invited me to serve on the editorial team, which was a very great opportunity and at the same time a huge responsibility to maintain the quality that Dr. Braunwald had established. My co-editors and I take this responsibility very seriously to contribute to the growth, expansion, and maintenance of this superb textbook.

How Braunwald’s Heart Disease has Evolved

Braunwald’s Heart Disease is a living textbook. It evolves as cardiology evolves. So, new chapters are added, old chapters are updated, and occasionally chapters are removed if they’re no longer pertinent. The beauty of Heart Disease is that unlike many other textbooks, which are either focused on the science or on the clinical art of cardiology, Heart Disease covers all of it, so there’s important content there for everyone — the scientist, the student, and the clinician. We’ve been very focused on making sure that the book remains clinically pertinent. In the last several editions we’ve also tied the chapters to the pertinent practice guidelines and appropriate use criteria documents that are gaining importance in the current practice of medicine.


A recognized scholar and clinician, Robert O. Bonow, MD is the Goldberg Distinguished Professor of Cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where he is vice-chairman of the Department of Medicine and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Innovation.

He has authored or co-authored more than 450 published medical papers, serves on the editorial boards of 9 medical journals, and is an editor of Braunwald’s Heart Disease: a Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine and Valvular Heart Disease: A Companion to Braunwald’s Heart Disease. Dr. Bonow is past-president of the American Heart Association, a Master of the American College of Cardiology and a Master of the American College of Physicians. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the American College of Cardiology, the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association, the Subspecialty Board on Cardiovascular Disease of the American Board of Internal Medicine, the Clinical Research Roundtable of the Institute of Medicine, and the Board of Extramural Advisors of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Among his honors are the Distinguished Leadership Award, the Distinguished Achievement Award, Gold Heart Award and James B. Herrick Award of the American Heart Association; and the Distinguished Fellowship Award and Distinguished Service Award of the American College of Cardiology; the Denolin Award of the European Society of Cardiology; and the John Phillips Memorial Award of the American College of Physicians.

Related Authors: Douglas L. Mann, MD, FACC; Douglas P. Zipes, MD; Peter Libby, MDCatherine M. Otto, MD; Eugene Braunwald, MD