Interview: Dr. Chen Ching Kit, Pediatric Cardiac 3D Printing, Singapore

(What is your favorite quote? Why?)

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward

As a doctor, we are all called to be teachers and mentors.  This serves as my beacon, in that I am here not just to impart knowledge and skills, but to model the professional behavior/approach of a physician.”


Ching Kit completed his undergraduate medical studies at the National University of Singapore and post-graduate training in Paediatrics and Pediatric Cardiology in Singapore. He subsequently did a fellowship in pediatric heart failure, mechanical circulatory support and heart transplantation at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.  During his 2-year fellowship, he participated in a range of research projects resulting in numerous abstracts and publications. Upon returning to Singapore, he has started a pediatric advanced heart failure program (including mechanical circulatory support for children) in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and has successfully established a pediatric heart transplant and mechanical cardiac support programme in Singapore. His clinical areas of interest cover dilated cardiomyopathy, exercise echocardiography in cardiomyopathy and congenital heart disease, and fetal cardiovascular flow dynamics, while research areas of expertise and experience include 3D printing of heart models, exercise echocardiography, and fetal cardiology.

Dr. Chen Ching Kit will be our speaker at our first Singapore Event

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?
Chen: This was back in 2012 when I was in Toronto, Canada.  I was shown a 3D printed heart model of double outlet right ventricle by a colleague at the Hospital for Sick Children. He showed me how it made a difference to the surgical planning of the patient.

Dr. Chen with a 3D-printed model of a heart. Congenital heart surgery is more challenging when it involves children as they are smaller in size. This is where having a heart printed in 3D form can be very useful. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

I had not seen a 3D printed heart model prior to that, and I thought that it was really a neat thing to do. To my mind, the ability to present the complex anatomy with a 3D printed model would be a game-changer.
Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey in 3D printing ?
Chen: Back in 2014 when I was back in Singapore, we had a patient whom the attending cardiologists could not agree upon with respect to the morphologic diagnosis, and obviously the cardiac surgeons were confused.  There was a lot of debate during the discussion, and I thought that it would be useful to print the heart out and verify the anatomic diagnosis. And we did just that, and it proved very useful especially to the surgeons. Since then, I would offer to help print a heart model if the anatomy is complex, and if the surgeons are uncertain of the best surgical approach.  
Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing ? This can be a mentor, a patient, a celebrity, anyone basically. You can name more than one as well.
Chen: Dr. Shi-Joon Yoo from the Hospital for Sick Children.  He provided me with some advice and guidance when I started out on this journey.
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Chen: The satisfaction in making a difference in the lives of my patients, as well as innovating the way we provide care to our patients.
Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Chen: Time constraint. There is much to be done, but there isn’t always enough time. Still learning to juggle.
Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?
Chen: In my opinion, the high cost involved in 3D printing is the greatest limitation. However, I believe that the cost will gradually improve in time with greater adoption of this technology.
Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?
Chen: I would advise him to pursue his passion unreservedly, and to identify a good mentor who would be willing to walk the journey with him during his career.  
I don’t think that there is necessarily bad advice…. Just what would work and what wouldn’t and these vary from individual to individual.
Jenny: If you could have a giant billboard to promote a message to millions and even billions of people in our community (i.e. healthcare 3D printing and bio-fabrication), what message would that be?
Chen: At least from the perspective of a pediatric cardiologist, I would like the message to be something like… “3D printing… the next stage in the evolution of cardiovascular imaging.”
Jenny: What was/is the biggest risk you took in your career?
Chen: Changing career from a full-time clinician to a clinician-scientist.
Jenny: What do you enjoy in your spare time? What are you passionate about outside of your work/3d printing?
Chen: The only thing I do outside of work is Krav Maga.  And, I very much enjoy scuba diving! I do 1-2 dive trips each year.
Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you?  =)
Chen: Healing/impact patient care through 3D innovations.