In recognition of Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, we’re bringing you love stories about members of our Cardiovascular team, including how they met and fell in love. We think you’ll enjoy getting to know the couples among our faculty and staff!
Claire Duvernoy and Frank Bogun remember the exact day they met. They were at the University of Michigan Hospital in a busy afternoon clinic at Taubman Center — she as a second year cardiology fellow and he as a newly arrived advanced cardiac electrophysiology fellow.
It was Frank’s German characteristics (tall, slender build and wire-rim glasses) that made him stand out in the crowd for Claire, whose parents were from Swabia, a small southern region of Germany. Claire had also lived in Germany for a few years as a young child, where her father served in the United States Army after her parents became U.S. citizens. Back in the United States, Claire remembers speaking mostly Swabian — the regional dialect — in her home growing up.
Polar opposites attract
Claire introduced herself to Frank, whose accent confirmed her thoughts about his German heritage. What was even more remarkable was that Frank spoke Swabian German. He and his family lived in the same region in Germany where Claire’s parents were raised.
Admitting that the two are “polar opposites in temperament” — Claire enjoys interacting with people while Frank is more introspective — the two have no doubt they were meant to be together.
While their friendship slowly developed, Claire enjoyed cooking for Frank, who she says was very thin and needed to gain a few pounds. “A mutual friend told Frank he should stick with me because of my cooking skills,” Claire jokes.
The friends continued hanging out together as Frank completed his EP fellowship at U-M and Claire finished her general cardiology fellowship training. The following year, Frank’s J-1 visa required him to return to Germany, where he took a position at the University of Frankfurt. Coincidentally, Claire had applied for a research training grant in Munich, Germany (prior to ever meeting Frank).
Despite their parallel paths, Claire admits, “I wasn’t really sure I’d see him again in Germany.” But all that changed when she got off the plane and Frank welcomed her at the airport in Munich. The two commuted between Frankfurt and Munich, a 2.5-hour trip via high-speed rail, for the next year.
Following their hearts
Eventually, Claire returned to the University of Michigan to complete her fellowship, with hopes of staying on in a faculty role. And Frank, following the woman he loved, returned to the U.S., despite having to repeat his residency and internship at Henry Ford Health System. For him, being with Claire was worth the extra time he was required to complete his education in the U.S.
The two wed in a civil ceremony in 1998, then returned to Germany in 1999 for a beautiful wedding ceremony held in a German castle, with plenty of family from both sides attending.
Today, the couple has two children — Max, 14, and Lulu, 11. Claire is chief of cardiology at the VA Hospital and an interventional cardiologist at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center, where she started the women’s heart program 10 years ago. Frank, who specializes in cardiac electrophysiology, has earned an international reputation for his work in advanced imaging techniques and complex ablation of ventricular arrhythmias.
Living in Ann Arbor, just minutes from the hospital, makes things a bit easier for this busy family of four. Claire and Frank are even known to ride their bicycles or run to work, weather permitting. As a family, they are also committed to honoring their heritage, incorporating the German language into Max and Lulu’s upbringing. It only stands to reason that the attraction responsible for bringing this couple together would be a prominent component of their happy home.
The University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.