Congratulations to Vincent Figueredo '79 on the upcoming release of his book, The Curious History of the Heart: A Cultural and Scientific Journey!
Vincent is an accomplished cardiologist and expert on the history of the human heart. The book "explores the role and significance of the heart in art, culture, religion, philosophy, and science across time and place... Ranging widely and deeply throughout human history, [it] sheds new light on why the heart remains so central to our sense of self." Recently, we had time to catch up with Vincent to talk about his time at Tampa Prep, his favorite teachers and what it took to write and publish his book.
TP: Tell us about your time at Tampa Prep - does any experience or person stand out?
VF: "I was in the second graduating class of Tampa Preparatory School. I believe the first class consisted
of three students and our class was a whopping 42. I thank George Wolfenden Sr. for recruiting me (and
getting me to his alma mater, Haverford College) and Barbara Wolfenden for her support during my
time there. I loved most all of my teachers while at TP. My best to my former classmates, especially
those from the swim team, KEY club, and chess club."
TP: Where did life take you after graduation?
VF: "After graduating in 1979, I went to Haverford College in Pennsylvania. Always planning to be a doctor, I
went to Columbia University as a medical student and then as an internal medicine resident. Early on I
figured out the heart was what I wanted to study and care for. I became a cardiology fellow at the
University of California, San Francisco, and subsequently joined the faculty there. I made my way to
New Mexico working at the Lovelace Clinic and the University of New Mexico. I wanted to live in the
'middle of nowhere' after living for so long in big cities. There I had chickens and horses. I eventually made my
way back to Pennsylvania, still practicing cardiology, where I now live on Five Fig Farm with rescue
donkeys, chickens, beehives, and vegetable plots."
TP: Tell us about the experience of writing your book and having it published.
VF: "Despite my goal to be a physician-scientist, I found myself filling in around pre-med courses in college
with history and art classes. Starting almost 20 years ago, I began to collect interesting heart stories and
historical facts. Five years ago, I made the decision to put them into a book on the history of the heart.
But writing a book is only half of getting it published. After hundreds of iterations, I searched for and
found an agent who ultimately connected me with Columbia University Press. Finally, holding one of my
books in my hand felt a huge relief and accomplishment."
TP: Anything else you'd like to share with us?
VF: "The Curious History of the Heart: A Cultural and Scientific Journey is now available at Amazon and
Columbia University Press! An excerpt will be published in the Wall Street Journal at the end of April."
Here is a summary of what my book is about:
For much of recorded history, people considered the heart to be the most important organ in the body.
In cultures around the world, the heart-not the brain-was believed to be the location of intelligence,
memory, emotion, and the soul. Over time, views on the purpose of the heart have transformed as
people sought to understand the life forces it contains. Modern medicine and science dismissed what
was once the king of the organs as a mere blood pump subservient to the brain, yet the heart remains a
potent symbol of love and health and an important part of our cultural iconography.
This book traces the evolution of our understanding of the heart from the dawn of civilization to the
present. Vincent M. Figueredo-an accomplished cardiologist and expert on the history of the human
heart-explores the role and significance of the heart in art, culture, religion, philosophy, and science
across time and place. He examines how the heart really works, its many meanings in our emotional and
daily lives, and what cutting-edge science is teaching us about this remarkable organ. Figueredo
considers the science of heart disease, recent advancements in heart therapies, and what the future
may hold. He highlights the emerging field of neurocardiology, which has found evidence of a “heart-
brain connection” in mental and physical health, suggesting that ancient views hold more truth than
Ranging widely and deeply throughout human history, this book sheds new light on why the heart
remains so central to our sense of self.