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Carl Backer, M.D. (MED ’80)


Carl Backer, M.D.

Vice President, Board Member

(originally published in 2015)

Division Head, Cardiovascular Thoracic Surgery

Surgical Director of Pediatric Heart Transplant Program, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Illinois

A.C. Buehler Professor of Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Evanston, Illinois

“The role model offered by Mayo Clinic consultants has deeply affected the way I interact with my patients and colleagues. I feel their influence every day when I make rounds.”

  • Fellowship: Congenital Heart Surgery, Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago
  • Residency: General Surgery and Cardiovascular-Thoracic Surgery, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Medical School: Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
  • Undergraduate: Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
  • Native of: Minnesota and Wisconsin

Why did you decide to pursue medicine?

My father was an eye surgeon who went to medical school at the University of Minnesota and did his ophthalmology residency at Mayo Clinic. I spent time as a high school student making rounds with him at the hospital and observing operations. His influence clearly piqued my interest in medicine and is the primary reason I decided to pursue medicine.

Why did you train at Mayo Clinic?

I remember my father’s frequent visits back to Mayo Clinic for continuing medical education, the monthly arrival of Mayo Clinic Proceedings and my father’s firm conviction that Mayo Clinic was the best medical center in the world. I applied to Mayo Clinic School of Medicine and was thrilled to be accepted.

What was your initial impression of Mayo Clinic?

My initial impressions are vivid. I remember feeling that everyone at Mayo (and in Rochester) was extraordinarily friendly. The clinic was bright, cheerful, amazingly well organized and efficient. The student-faculty dinner we had with Dean Pruitt [Raymond Pruitt, M.D. (I ’43), founding dean of Mayo Clinic School of Medicine] at his home on our first day of medical school emphasized to me how committed the institution was to education and patient care.

How does Mayo Clinic influence your practice?

The role model offered by Mayo Clinic consultants has deeply affected the way I interact with my patients and colleagues. I feel their influence every day when I make rounds.

How do you contribute to the Mayo Clinic Alumni Association?

I bring my 25 years of experience as a congenital heart surgeon in a major metropolitan area. I have helped organized the 10- and 25-year reunions of my Mayo Clinic School of Medicine class and keep in close contact with many of my classmates. This is the network that continues to feed patients back to Mayo Clinic when we encounter difficult or unusual circumstances in our own practices or when consulted by families and friends about medical issues.

What do you do in your spare time?

I spend time with my wife, Julia, and our four children. We ski in the winter and hike in the summer in the beautiful mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. We also travel to Nantucket, Massachusetts, and the Virgin Islands for summer and winter sailing.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I was just named president-elect of the Congenital Heart Surgeons’ Society. I have edited five books. I am a Porsche enthusiast, and am still trying to achieve proficiency in golf.