Dr. Bolman is a fourth generation physician who traces his roots to the Midwest. He was born in Indiana, and completed undergraduate studies at Williams College in Williamstown, MA, in 1969. He then matriculated at St. Louis University School of Medicine, where he received his MD, Magna cum Laude in 1973. From there, Dr. Bolman pursued a residency in general surgery at Duke University Medical Center, serving as Chief Resident in 1979-80. He followed this with a residency in thoracic surgery at the University of Minnesota between 1980 and 1982. Following completion of his formal training, Dr. Bolman remained at the University of Minnesota as Assistant Professor of Surgery. He was placed in charge of the new heart transplant program. During these years, he worked in the incredibly fertile environment in solid organ transplantation at the University of Minnesota to establish a method of immunosuppression (triple-drug therapy) for heart transplant patients that became the standard therapy around the US.
In 1984, Dr. Bolman was recruited to Washington University, St. Louis and Barnes Hospital to initiate a heart transplant program at that institution. Over the next four years, his team performed more than 100 heart transplants. In addition, he performed the first heart-lung and lung transplant at that center. Dr. Bolman returned to the University of Minnesota in 1989 as Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery in the Department of Surgery. He was named the first recipient of the C. Walton and Richard C. Lillehei Professorship in Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery in 1989. This prestigious Chair honored the brilliant and charismatic Lillehei brothers- C. Walton Lillehei, who is acknowledged as the founder of the field of open heart surgery, and his innovative brother, Richard C. Lillehei, who performed the world’s first pancreas transplant, among his many accomplishments. While at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Bolman was Chair of the Finance Committee and Vice-Chair of the Board of University of Minnesota Physicians, the practice organization of the University of Minnesota. In 1997, Dr. Bolman received a Faculty Teaching Award from the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Bolman remained in this position until June, 2005, when he relocated to Boston to become Professor of Surgery at Harvard University and Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a position he held until 2013. Dr. Bolman has been active on the national scene in transplantation and thoracic surgery. He served on the heart transplant committee and as the first thoracic transplant representative on the Board of the United Network of Organ Sharing. He served for 6 years on the Residency Review Committee of the ACGME for Thoracic Surgery from 2005-2011. This is the entity that oversees and credentials all training programs in thoracic surgery in the US. He served as the Chair of the Education Committee of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery from 2007-2011. He was a Councillor of the AATS from 2009-2011.
While in Boston, Dr. Bolman and his wife, Ceeya Patton-Bolman, co-founded Team Heart Rwanda. This is a 501-C3 non-profit organization formed in 2006 to address the need for cardiac surgery services for the population of Rwanda, an East African country of 12 million people which lacks any sustainable cardiac surgery. Each year, from 2008 through 2016, Team Heart has travelled to Rwanda to perform humanitarian open heart surgery for the vulnerable population of that country. The organization is currently raising funds for the creation of a dedicated cardiac care center for Rwanda and the surrounding region. Since July, 2015, Dr. Bolman is a Professor of Surgery in the Division of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery at the University of Vermont.