There is a man named Parag Chowdhury. He professes about hearts and viscera and other anatomical and physiological science out in California. It’s also his birthday this weekend.

I met Parag back at the small liberal arts Hendrix College in Arkansas back in the 90s. The older brother of my good friend Pritam (now an archaeologist), I’d mostly see him at parties – first in the dorms, and later at the “log cabin.” Parag was and is – hands down – the smartest, coolest motherfucker I’ve ever met. Incidentally, his influence over the years as he forged his path through science and life had a major impact on the trajectory of my own career in the biomedical sciences. So when his wife Julia @juleschools asked if I’d consider making something for his big bday, I was immediately all in.

I designed and built this heart over the course of two months from South American bloodwood (the heart chambers), African padauk (the oxygenated vessels), and Central
American purpleheart (the deoxygenated vessels), all cut by hand on a scrollsaw. Those coronary arteries were… not easy. The background is American curly maple. Obviously some artistic liberties were taken. The padauk and purpleheart will darken dramatically with UV/oxidation over time. But the bloodwood should remain red, which is why I chose it for the heart itself.

I got my PhD studying the genetics of cardiogenesis (heart development)… holy crap like 17 years ago now 😲. So the heart has additional importance to me, especially given that my own heart has… issues. For this reason I actually made 2 of them. One for Parag and one for me.