Q&A With New AVF President Peter Henke

by Kirsten Joranlien

This February, as the Phoenix Wigwam Resort greeted the more than 600 attendees of the American Venous Forum’s 25th Anniversary Meeting, the usual changing of the guard occurred as outgoing President Robert McLafferty, MD handed over the reigns to President-Elect Peter Henke, MD.

VEIN Magazine caught up with Peter to find out a bit more about the AVF’s next steps and what is in store for 2013.

VM: Why did you decide to specialize in vascular surgery? What interested you about vascular medicine?

PH: I developed an interest in vascular surgery when I was a third-year medical student at the University of Wisconsin. I had a two-week rotation on their service and, as the only student, I was extremely busy but it was a lot of fun. I again thought about vascular surgery once I became a general surgery resident at the University of Louisville and by good fortune was able to spend a year in a vascular research laboratory examining vascular graft infection models. In terms of vascular medicine, I have always been interested in this part of vascular surgery in regard to risk factor modification as well as risk factor prediction for deep vein thrombosis.

VM: How did you become involved in the American Venous Forum?

PH: My immediate boss, Dr. Thomas Wakefield, a former AVF president, got me involved early with the AVF given my research focus, which is on venous thrombosis resolution and vein wall injury. I had started that line of research when I was a fellow in Dr. Wakefield’s lab and have continued this investigation.

VM: What AVF committees have you served on?

PH: I have served on the Research Committee and Program Committee (chair of the Program Committee in 2010), as well as being the recorder and, finally, president-elect.

VM: How has your involvement with the AVF helped you professionally?

PH: It has been very helpful in developing ideas for thrombosis research, for networking with other experts in this area, and increasing my professional and research profiles.

VM: What would be your three main goals as president of the AVF?

PH: First, to continue the forward momentum that started with our new executive management group (EDI). They have put a tremendous amount of effort into the transition, restructuring AVF and helping develop new initiatives. Second, to push forth AVF input into the Journal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders and the conversion of the venous registry to the SVS/PSO VQI registry. These both will require continued work and perseverance, but Dr. McLafferty and colleagues have really started moving us in the right direction. Third, I would like to focus on helping get the AVF Foundation to secure funding for major AVF initiatives. This will be a challenge, but I think we are in a good position to move forward. Lastly, we would like to continue to grow membership on a broader scale, as the AVF is involved in much more than surgical medicine.

VM: What are you looking forward to most about serving as AVF president?

PH: I look forward to working with the AVF and AVF Foundation Board of Directors to move forward with our initiatives, hopefully completing some projects and starting some new ones. I think it will be a busy and fulfilling year.

VM: What are the most important advances in vascular medicine that have occurred over the last decade?

PH: Certainly, I think the most important overall advances are perioperative and medications that have reduced cardiovascular morbidity. The overall recognition of the importance of cardiovascular protective medications within vascular surgery has markedly increased, and I think these have made a difference with reduced postoperative cardiac complications and death.

VM: What developments of vascular medicine do you think will grow in the next 10 years?

PH: I think that with the advent of genomics and proteomics, the further refinement of the thrombosis and thrombolysis balance in sick patients will improve and
dramatically increase our ability to tailor anticoagulant therapy in those who are at risk for thrombosis and decrease it for those who are at risk of bleeding.

VM: What advice would you give to vascular physicians who want to become more involved with the AVF?

PH: First and foremost, please ask any of the leadership about current projects or open positions. Joining an AVF committee is a great way for willing and able physicians to become involved, and it is also a good opportunity to advance toward leadership.

VM: What were the highlights from the 2013 meeting?

PH: Dr. Robert McLafferty and Dr. Nicos Labropoulos put forth an exciting meeting, keeping the specialty symposiums that were so popular last year, as well as highlighting the international flavor of the AVF, as it was the 25th anniversary meeting. I think the broad and international expertise that comes together is always a highlight.

VM: Is there anything else you would like to add?

PH: Mainly, I want to encourage all physicians who have an interest in venous disease—be it medical, surgical, or epidemiological—to join the AVF as I think it is the foremost academic society that deals with venous disease in the world.