David L. Wessel, M.D., is Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, Physician-In-Chief and the Ikaria Distinguished Professor of Critical Care Medicine at Children’s National Hospital. He is also professor of anesthesiology, critical care medicine and pediatrics at the George Washington University.
After an undergraduate degree in physics from the College of William and Mary, Dr. Wessel was educated and trained in medicine at Oxford, Yale and Harvard. He completed specialty training and board certification in anesthesiology, pediatrics, pediatric cardiology, and pediatric critical care. Dr. Wessel joined Children’s National in July 2007. Prior to this appointment he was professor of pediatrics (anesthesia) at Harvard Medical School and Senior Associate in Cardiology and Anesthesia at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Wessel is internationally known for his pioneering work in caring for newborns, especially those with heart disease. An experienced scientist and clinical researcher with more than 300 publications, Dr. Wessel has designed and executed seminal studies in cardiac critical care and in pulmonary hypertension; developed new therapies for perioperative care of the newborn with congenital heart disease; helped introduce novel treatments of pulmonary hypertension; and studied neurologic outcomes relevant to perioperative care of newborns. His current research focuses on COVID-19 illness in children and the emerging field of prenatal pediatrics. He is a principal investigator for the Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and has been NIH funded for the past 15 years at Children’s National.
Dr. Wessel has received numerous teaching and research awards, including the Meritorious Achievement Award as well as the Outstanding Research Award from the American Heart Association, for his contributions to the care of critically ill children. He has been a pioneer in the development of pediatric cardiac intensive care, and he has mentored a generation of leaders in that field. He was also elected the first president of the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Society an international society which honored him with its 2004 Anthony Chang Award for contributions to improving children’s heart health.
In 2018 and again in 2022 he was named to the Becker’s Healthcare list of “100 Hospital & Health System CMOs to Know.” Dr. Wessel has accountability for much of the hospital’s clinical and operational service lines. He is keenly interested in novel ways to integrate AI into clinical practice. Dr. Wessel is accountable for nearly $1 billion in hospital revenue and oversees approximately 3000 employees within the healthcare system.