Alumni Issue: Dr. Jeffrey Astbury

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 at 6:40 PM

Coming from a long line of engineers, Dr. Jeffrey Astbury always had a knack for thinking beyond the norm. The once young man would leave his home in Mount Lebanon, heading to Edinboro University. And it was Edinboro where he set the stage for his career, along with a habit for diverging his studies.

While pursuing his physics degree, Astbury spent a significant amount of his free time playing football during his sophomore and junior years at Edinboro. Although he was physically in his prime, there was research beyond athletics that drove him to where he stands today.

“I was not a traditional pre-med student. I was really more focused on engineering,” said Astbury, the current vice chairman for cardiovascular services in the department of anesthesiology and the director of perioperative echocardiography at the Butler Health System.

Before he committed to a profession, Astbury showed interest in engineering and medicine, a pattern he described as somewhat of a struggle because he had difficulty pursuing a particular practice due to the wandering nature of his intellect.

Astbury described Dr. Benjamin Lowenhaupt, a former professor at Edinboro, as a significant figure in his molding years. Together, the two worked diligently on researching theoretical electrical physiology. Even after Astbury’s graduation in 1980, he still served as a research assistant to Lowenhaupt in the department of biology, where Astbury developed computer graphics and simulations for the electrogenic theory of electrically excitable cell membranes.

From Edinboro, Astbury pursued his master’s degree in electrical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, followed by a second master’s degree in bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. When asked how the jumps in his educational pursuit tied together, Astbury said, “My path was longer, but it was all very beneficial.”

At age 30, Astbury found himself in medical school, where he was beginning to realize that anesthesiology was his passion. However, it wasn’t until he was overseeing a heart transplant that he found himself drawn to the particulars of being an anesthesiologist. Astbury’s calling to this practice dealt with the mixture of medicine and physiology, which sparked his curiosity because his pursuit in various fields was beginning to come to a crossroads.

Today, Astbury functions primarily as a cardiac anesthesiologist, which means that he makes it possible to conduct surgery safely through his expertise in anesthesiology.

Through his academic career, Astbury has taught 15 courses at a Penn State branch campus during a span of three years, and has also been certified four times by the National Board of Echocardiography, a leading medical association in the U.S. This association has only certified 14 other people four times for their efforts in echocardiography.

With a wife (Kimberly), and four sons (Matthew, Ryan, Benjamin and Bradford), plus a hectic work schedule, he still finds time for coaching little league baseball, doing home maintenance, woodworking and keeping up with yard work. Astbury went on to describe how he finds yard work and home maintenance relaxing, in contrast to his everyday schedule. 

Astbury explained that he wouldn’t be where he is now without his experience at Edinboro, and to this day he does research on heart valves to keep himself busy. This is a rapidly changing practice, and he’s been staying fluid with the ever changing nature of the medical field. 

Find our alumni special issue on Homecoming morning at local businesses. It includes additional interviews with former Fighting Scots.

Rick Chernicky can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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