Heart Matter: Dr. Shafkat Anwar, UCSF

Shafkat Anwar, MD

Dr. Shafkat Anwar (Twitter: @ShafkatAnwar) is a pediatric cardiologist with a specialty in non-invasive cardiac imaging, including echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Dr. Shafkat Anwar is a pediatric cardiologist with a specialty in non-invasive cardiac imaging, including echocardiography and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

He is the Pediatric Cardiology Director of Cardiac MRI, as well as Co-Founder and Co-Director of the UCSF Center for Advanced 3D+ Technologies (CA3D+). He is a founding member and the inaugural Chair of the Advanced 3D+ Visualization Special Interest Group in the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance. He is a consultant at Printerprezz, a medical start-up in Fremont, CA utilizing additive and other advanced manufacturing technologies to develop the next generation of medical devices.  At Printerprezz Dr. Anwar serves as the Senior Vice President of Medical Innovations. Dr. Anwar completed his internship and residency in Pediatrics at Children’s National Medical Center, as well as a research fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. He completed fellowships in Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Imaging at Cleveland Clinic and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Prior to joining UCSF, Dr. Anwar was Cardiology Director of Cardiac MRI at Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis Children’s Hospital.  At Wash. U. Dr. Anwar co-founded and co-directed the Center for 3D Printing, a multi-disciplinary 3D printing center. He will be speaking at the upcoming 3DHEALS San Francisco event on September 26th, 2019.


Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?

Dr. Anwar: I had a brief encounter with 3D printing in my Cardiac Imaging Fellowship, but did not fully engage with it until a couple of years later.  I found the technology fascinating, and immediately thought it would be valuable for patient care.

Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey in 3D printing?

Dr. Anwar: I was leading the Pediatric Cardiac MRI program at Washington University in St. Louis, and the head of CT Surgery asked me to 3D print a case for complex pre-surgical planning.  My entry into the field was very much driven by clinical need, and since then we have expanded to education and research applications as well.

Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing (bio-printing/bio-fabrication)? This can be a mentor, a patient, a celebrity, anyone basically. You can name more than one as well.

Dr. Anwar: My patients and their families.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?

Dr. Anwar: My work is in the area of complex congenital disease.  I work with patients of all ages, from neonates to the elderly, and help plan high-risk surgeries with 3D printing and other “3D+” technologies (advanced visualizations, biomechanical modeling, etc).  Because of the high-risk nature of their surgeries these are highly vulnerable patients, and I’d like to think our work helps them have a better clinical outcome.  I also like counseling patients and families using the 3D models, and they report feeling better and more knowledgeable about their illness/procedure because of the models.  These are the greatest motivating factors in my work.    

3D Printed Double outlet right ventricle (DORV) (Photo Credit: Dr. Shafkat Anwar)

Jenny: What are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?

Dr. Anwar: Time and resources.  Happy to discuss more at the 3DHEALS event. 

Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?

Dr. Anwar:

For clinical 3D printing:

  • Limited personnel, time & resources.  Especially when starting a 3D printing program
  • No standard reimbursement mechanism/lack of insurance reimbursement
  • No standard model for hospital/med center/university integration
  • Resistance to change
  • Limited outcomes data       

Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be? 

Dr. Anwar:

  • A phenomenal 3D Engineer (we’re hiring!)
  • A clone of myself to add capacity – we would split doctor/3D print projects
  • Unlimited funding

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?

Dr. Anwar:

Advice: Don’t give up, follow your passion, be a team player.

Ignore: “That will never work”

Jenny: What was the best investment you made in 3D printing?

Dr. Anwar: Great Engineer

Jenny: What were/was the worst investment you made in 3D printing?

Dr. Anwar: So far so good.

Jenny: What was/is the biggest risk you took in your career?

Dr. Anwar: Starting a 3D printing program.  When I started I had no experience but believed in the technology.  The rest I learned by collaborating and perseverance, though when we first started I truly didn’t know if we would succeed.

Jenny: What do you enjoy in your spare time? What are you passionate about outside of your work/3d printing?

Dr. Anwar:

  • Playing with my kids (5,8)
  • Exploring the Bay Area & surroundings.  We moved to CA just a year ago – so much to see and explore!

Jenny: What is your favorite quote? Why?

Dr. Anwar:

“Just keep swimming”. Dory, Finding Nemo. 

Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you?  =)

Dr. Anwar: A fantastic community of like-minded people using advanced 3D technologies to improve healthcare.

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