Dr. Mark Holterman: An American Pediatric Surgeon with a Global Reach
As a surgeon, educator, and researcher, Dr. Mark Holterman certainly has a busy schedule. Even so, some of his most important work is in the philanthropic arena. In particular, his contributions to the International Pediatric Specialists Alliance for the Children of Vietnam (IPSAC-VN) are saving lives.
A Journey to Pediatric Surgery
Dr. Mark Holterman was raised in Wisconsin (http://www.vitals.com/doctors/Dr_Mark_Holterman.html). Neither of his parents had gone to college, and the family owned a farm. Mark was such a good student in high school that a teacher told him to think about going to Yale University. His parents weren’t sure about that idea. Nevertheless, Mark ended up at Yale, a school he loved.
At Yale, Mark was a biology major. After graduating in 1980, he attended medical school at the University of Virginia. As a UVA student, he intended to become a pediatrician, and he also took part in a National Institutes of Health program to become a medical scientist.
Something else happened at UVA that changed Mark’s life. He met a medical resident and future surgeon named Ai-Xuan Le. She’d graduated from Texas Christian University. The two would have a profound influence on one another. Ai-Xuan’s passion for surgery made Mark want to become a surgeon as well as a pediatrician. Conversely, Mark’s interest in pediatrics inspired Ai-Xuan to become a pediatric surgeon.
Mark and Ai-Xuan soon found themselves growing closer. A romance blossomed, and they got married in 1988. They would have three sons: Nathan, Alex, and Isaac.
After graduating from UVA, Mark became a surgery resident at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center. Later, he and Ai-Xuan moved to Seattle, where Mark became a pediatric surgery fellow at the University of Washington’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. Next, the couple was off to Quebec, Canada, where Mark worked for two years at the Clinical Research Institute of Montreal. He was a research associate there.
A Doctor Who Takes on Many Roles
Dr. Mark Holterman has more than two decades of professional experience. These days, his career encompasses a great many endeavors. Mark serves as the CEO of the investment firm Mariam Global Health, which funds and helps to manage innovative medical businesses. Plus, he’s been a faculty member of the University of Illinois College of Medicine since 2011. Today, he’s a full professor there, and he teaches courses in pediatrics and surgery.
Mark is a pediatric surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, St. Francis Medical Center, and the Advocate Christ Children’s Hospital. He also operates on and cares for pediatric patients at the University of Illinois’ hospital facilities.
In addition, Mark conducts medical research at the University of Illinois. In this position, he studies stem cell and other regenerative treatments along with cutting-edge methods of fighting cancer and diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has honored Mark with its prestigious Innovative Research Award.
Indeed, regenerative medicine is a fascinating, fertile, and extremely promising field. New regenerative therapies and technologies could very well emerge over the course of the next several years.
Mark’s regenerative medicine research motivated him to co-found a charitable organization called The Hannah Sunshine Foundation. This nonprofit seeks to find children who suffer from rare chronic illnesses and to grant them access to regenerative treatments, especially on the cellular level.
Over the years, Mark has reviewed medical journals, and he’s written scientific articles, educational pieces for medical websites, and a number of textbook chapters on subjects such as immunology. On top of that, he’s lectured all over the world.
Currently, Mark maintains two medical offices in Illinois. One is located in the village of Maywood, and the other is in the city of Peoria. Further, he belongs to the American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the American College of Surgeons.
The Mission and Influence of IPSAC-VN
Dr. Mark Holterman is one of the visionaries behind IPSAC-VN, and he’s gone on to serve this group as a surgeon and lecturer (Ideamensch). This foundation unexpectedly came about during a trip that Mark took with his wife.
Ai-Xuan Le Holterman was born in South Vietnam. She and her family fled her native country on April 30, 1975, the day that North Vietnam captured the city of Saigon. She was 17 at the time.
In 2007, Mark and Ai-Xuan traveled to Vietnam. It was the first time that Ai-Xuan had seen the country at peace. While there, they visited the largest hospital for children in Ho Chi Minh City, which was extremely crowded. Some beds had three young patients in them. The problem, Mark and Ai-Xuan realized, was a severe shortage of pediatric hospitals and doctors throughout the nation.
Vietnamese parents often must take their children far from home so that they can get the treatment they need. And, in many cases, family members will stay in the hospitals with the sick children because they have nowhere else to go, and it can lead to sanitation problems and safety concerns.
During their trip, Mark and Ai-Xuan met with that hospital’s chief surgeon, and the three of them decided to create a nonprofit that could help make pediatric care more readily available throughout Vietnam. The group officially became an American nonprofit in 2009.
One of this organization’s main goals is to team medical professionals in the U.S. with those in Vietnam to find ways of improving hospital conditions. For example, IPSAC-VN wants to reduce the annual number of hospital infections, which are rampant in Vietnam. It’s also seeking to supply Vietnamese medical facilities with new pieces of equipment and to find children who need operations and bring them to surgeons. At some point, IPSAC-VN should start to establish clinics in parts of rural Vietnam that largely lack healthcare providers.
It’s impossible to foresee all of the achievements that lie ahead for IPSAC-VN. It’s equally difficult to imagine what discoveries and accomplishments could be next for Dr. Mark Holterman. His career has already been so varied, so unpredictable, and so beneficial to so many people.