Marcelo Auslender, MD

Marcelo Auslender
Pediatric Critical Care Specialist

About

Meet Marcelo Auslender, MD

Marcelo Auslender, MD, is director of the division of pediatric critical care at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. He spent nearly 15 years at New York University, where he served as division chief of the pediatric intensive care unit and medical director of pediatric cardiology. He has also worked and trained at hospitals in Maine, Michigan, and Ohio. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he joined UI Children’s Hospital in February 2016.

When did you decide you wanted to be a doctor?

I think I was 8 when I started saying I wanted to be a doctor. In high school, I went back and forth between being an architect and being a doctor. At the time I grew up in Argentina, there were not that many choices if you were born in the middle class to upper middle class. My father made it clear to my brother and me that we were not to go into the family business. He said he had done what he did so his kids could do what they wanted. At the end of the day, I think it worked out. In my New York apartment and various houses I’ve owned, I have been involved in remodeling, so I’ve at least been able to channel my interest in other areas, such as architecture.

How did you decide on your area of specialization?

I went to medical school knowing that I wanted to be a pediatrician. I had worked with kids as a camp counselor. In my second year of medical school, when we took physiology, I said I wanted to be a pediatric cardiologist. At first, I had no idea what pediatric cardiology was about. But my brain is more analytical, and cardiology was mainly pipes and a lot of physics. I was good at physics, so it came naturally. When I did a rotation at Boston Children’s with Richard Van Praagh, MD, and Stella Van Praagh, MD, I learned about holes in the heart, and it was clear that that’s what I was going to do.

What about your interest in critical care?

Towards the end of medical school, I did an internship in emergency medicine. I was in the ER in the middle of the night when an adult came in. He was intubated and undergoing chest compressions. The attending physician in the ER called the doctors in the ICU [intensive care unit] to come down. They did, and they started barking orders—what drugs to give him and exactly what to do. His heart started beating again. When the day finished, I said, “I know nothing.” It was a very frustrating day. This led to my desire to learn more about critical care. Later on, during my fellowship in cardiology, it became clear that the intensive care unit and the catheterization laboratory were the places that I felt comfortable and enjoyed working the most.

How did you learn about the opening at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital?

I was director of the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit and cardiac inpatient service at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. Dr. Hirsch [chairman of the UI Stead Family Department of Pediatrics] met one of my best friends in a national chairman’s meeting. How in the world they got talking about this, I don’t know. Dr. Hirsch asked my friend if he knew anyone in cardiac intensive care. My friend said, “I know this guy.” Afterwards, Dr. Hirsch called me, and we spoke about the position. Then I researched everything that I could.

I said I would come and take a look. I liked Dr. Hirsch’s vision and where he was taking the department. I had lunch with everyone from the division. I liked the group. It was a young group, and I thought I could provide some leadership. I thought making the transition from a hospital within a hospital to the new children’s hospital would be a very nice challenge for me at this point in my career.

Tell us about your research.

My research has been focused on pediatric heart failure—understanding the causes of pediatric heart failure. Every two to three years, we find out that what we thought right is not so right or plain wrong. It’s been more and more rewarding. Right now, most of my work is in outcomes research.

I’m also very into getting this division to work well. We have great fellows, and I am committed to growing our fellowship program. We have several researchers, and they are going to be putting out some great papers in two to three years that will put everyone on notice about the strength of our critical care division.

What are you looking forward to about our new children’s hospital?

Up until now, perhaps for many people—patients and physicians—it’s been difficult to identify our children’s hospital. People may think, “Where is it? Is it on the seventh floor? Is it on the sixth floor?” Now it will be very clear. It’s like a big statement. We are going to be a force that can easily compete with hospitals throughout the Midwest. I think the human factor was always here, but the recognition was not. But now everything’s coming together.

The patients will be very comfortable. I think some of the rooms are bigger than my apartment in New York. We will be in a state-of-the-art facility, and, with the exception of a couple of procedures, everything will be done in the same building. The view is just phenomenal. It’s a very exciting time for Iowa and the children’s hospital in particular. I strongly believe that the human factor of the new hospital and the new facility will bring growth to our division.

What do you like about working here?

Everywhere you go, when you interview for a job they tell you, “The people here are great.” Except in New York.  

They told me [before I came here] that “Everyone is great.” In this case it’s true. It’s kind of difficult to find someone who doesn’t come to work with a smile. The people of Iowa are phenomenal. It’s a pleasure to interact with them.

Languages

English

Pediatric Medical Services

Pediatric Specialties

Critical care

Credentials

Degrees

MD, Facultad de Ciencias Medicas, University of Buneos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Residencies

Pediatrics, Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine

Fellowships

  • Pediatric Cardiology, Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, Cleveland
  • Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care & Intervention Catheterization, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Pediatric Critical Care, Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, Cleveland

Department

Pediatrics ( Academic Profile )

Associate Professor