Departmental Highlights & News

Drs. Norman Shumway, left, and Donald C. Harrison meet the press after they perform the first adult human transplant in the United States in January 1968.

Stanford is able to leverage a series of "firsts," including the first heart transplant in the US, the first heart-lung transplant in the world, and one of the first left ventricular assist device (LVAD) procedures in the world. Stanford dominates the market in programs involving a high percentage of complex procedures. Several of Stanford's most successful cardiac programs have a broad geographical base, with over 20% of the volume for heart transplants, aorta and valve procedures coming from outside the Bay Area. Stanford also has a strong international cardiac market with cardiac patients representing more than 50% of overall international business. 

Dr. Bruce Reitz and his surgical team perform the world’s first successful combined adult human heart-lung transplant in 1981

Department celebrates graduating cardiothoracic surgery fellows and resident

Earlier this month, the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery celebrated five individuals who completed the Traditional Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship and Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgical Training Program. Congratulations to our trainees!

June 22, 2022

Stanford's successful heart transplantation using COVID-19 positive donor

A team of heart surgeons and health care specialists from the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery recently performed their first reported heart transplant on a patient using a COVID-19 positive donor.

June 21, 2022

For the Third Consecutive Year: ‘U.S. News & World Report’ Names Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford Among Top 10 Children’s Hospitals in the Nation

The rankings place Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford as the top children’s hospital in Northern California and include it on the Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll, a designation awarded to pediatric centers that deliver exceptionally high-quality care across multiple specialties. In addition, the 2022–23 survey once again announced state and regional rankings; Packard Children’s Hospital ranked second among all Pacific-region and California children’s hospitals.

June 14, 2022

Faculty Spotlight: Leah Backhus, MD, MPH

In this Faculty Spotlight, Leah Backhus, MD, MPH, highlights the importance of mentorship, experience in research and leadership, and opportunities for underrepresented surgeons.

June 9, 2022

Dr. Leah Backhus named 2022-2023 ELAM Executive Leadership in Health Care Fellow

The Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM) Program for Women at Drexel University College of Medicine has selected Leah Backhus, MD, to its 2022-2023 Executive Leadership in Health Care (ELH), a program is designed for senior-level women leaders interested in advancing in hospitals and healthcare systems to positions such as CEO, CMO, CNO and CFO. Congrats, Dr. Backhus!

June 1, 2022

Stanford Heart Transplant: Exceptional Growth, Outcomes and Accomplishments

Stanford Health Care continues to distinguish itself as a national leader in heart transplants following the release of 2021 reports from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients. The number of adult heart transplantations performed by the Heart Transplant Program team climbed into triple digits, while outcomes surpassed the national average.

May 25, 2022

Oscar Abilez receives Andrew Olson Scientific Image Award Honorable Mention for "Heart Star"

Oscar Abilez, MD, PhD, Senior Research Scientist in the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, was among the ten recipients whose art images were selected as winners of the inaugural Andrew Olson Scientific Image Awards, presented by the Neuroscience Microscopy Service (NMS) and sponsored by the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute and Carl Zeiss.

May 25, 2022

Department clinical and research expertise showcased at ISHLT 42nd Annual Meeting

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery showcased its clinical and research expertise at the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions in Boston, Massachusetts, from April 27-30, 2022. ISHLT is a leading organization providing education for medical professionals involved in caring for and treating patients with advanced heart or lung disease.

May 24, 2022

Tech News: Intraoperative Molecular Imaging: The Next Frontier in Thoracic Surgical Oncology

By Natalie S. Lui, MD, from Stanford University School of Medicine in California; and Sunil Singhal, MD, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

Intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) is a promising technology with several potential applications in thoracic surgical oncology.

May 19, 2022

Dr. Leah Backhus captained the Cardinal Chest Cutters, the top fundraising team for the 2022 TSF 5K Fun Run

"I’m always proud to see how enthusiastically the STS community participates in this event,” said STS Immediate Past President Sean C. Grondin, MD, MPH, FRCSC. "It shows their commitment to the community, to supporting the specialty, and to literally 'walking the walk' when it comes to cardiovascular health."

May 19, 2022

Kiah Williams receives WTS Thistlethwaite Scholarship and Dartmouth National Implementation Science Scholarship

Kiah Williams, MD, a cardiothoracic surgery resident in the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, was recently awarded the 2022 Women in Thoracic Surgery (WTS) Thistlethwaite Scholarship and Dartmouth National Implementation Science Scholarship. Congrats, Kiah!

May 19, 2022

Department clinical and research expertise showcased at AATS 102nd Annual Meeting

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery showcased its clinical and research expertise at the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) 102nd Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, from May 14 - 17, 2022. The in-person event was an opportunity to bring surgeons back together to learn about the latest ideas and perspectives in cardiothoracic surgery, reflecting this year’s meeting theme, "Innovation."

May 19, 2022

Stanford Health Care receives 2022 Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center award

The American Heart Association and the Mitral Foundation have recognized Stanford Health Care as a reference center for mitral valve repair surgery.  Stanford Health Care was the first hospital in the West to receive the Mitral Valve Repair Reference Center award, a collaborative recognition program of the AHA and Mitral Foundation. This is the third consecutive year that Stanford Health Care has achieved this recognition (2020, 2021, 2022) since the program launched in November of 2019.

May 17, 2022

Stanford named top state hospital for cardiac surgery in 2022 Healthgrades Award Ranking

The Cardiac Surgery specialty award recognizes hospitals with superior clinical outcomes in heart bypass surgery and heart valve surgery. The Cardiac Surgery specialty award is based on Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) Surgery and Valve Surgery.

May 16, 2022

Ngan F. Huang receives 2022 CVI Seed Grant Award

The Stanford Cardiovascular Institute has awarded Ngan F. Huang, PhD, the 2022 Seed Grant Award for the project, “Engineering protease-guided drug delivery to implanted stem cells for treatment of peripheral arterial disease.” Dr. Huang will serve as the principal investigator on the project, along with co-principal investigator Xiaojing Gao, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering.

May 13, 2022

Fellows Match Day 2022: Department welcomes two new cardiothoracic surgery fellows

On May 11, the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery welcomed two new fellows to the Traditional Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship. We are thrilled to have matched with Katherine (Kate) Giuliano Verde from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for the Adult Cardiac Surgery Track and Lillian Tsai from Emory University School of Medicine for the General Thoracic Track. 

May 12, 2022

Toddler Takes on Jungle Gym After Life-Changing Heart Reconstruction

Highly specialized program offers exciting alternative for kids with single ventricle hearts

May 2, 2022

Department Quarterly Newsletter 2022

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery introduces its first quarterly newsletter! Each issue will highlight the latest news, patient stories, research developments, education updates, and publications reflecting our department’s mission in clinical care, research, and education.

April 21, 2022

A Heart Ready for Anything

Frank Hanley, MD, and the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health hosted a donor event, “A Heart Ready for Anything,” on April 5 at Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park. Attended by a number of patient families and supporters of the Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center, the event featured three speakers who described innovative work happening at Packard Children’s Hospital. A graphic recorder was on hand to illustrate the points made during the presentations.

April 14, 2022

Faculty Spotlight: Ngan F. Huang, PhD

In this Faculty Spotlight, Ngan F. Huang, PhD, shares her research experience in bioengineering and cardiovascular regenerative medicine.

April 13, 2022

Researcher Spotlight: Michael Ma, MD 

Michael Ma, MD, was featured in the spring issue of the Children’s Fund Update put out by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health. He received a Pilot/Early Career Award from the Stanford Maternal & Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI), which is funded in large part by the Children’s Fund.

Full LPCH Spring 2022 Newsletter

April 11, 2022

Stanford Children’s Health Celebrates Women’s History Month

Stanford Children’s Health celebrates outstanding women, including Elisabeth Martin, MD, co-director of the Pediatric Bloodless Cardiac Surgery Program and one of the few female pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons.

April 11, 2022    

Match Day 2022: Department welcomes new interns to cardiothoracic surgery residency program

On Friday, March 18, the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery welcomed three new residents to the Integrated Cardiothoracic Surgical Training Program as part of the 2022 National Resident Matching Program. Kelly Higa, Hannah McMullen, and Alexander Reed will start their training at the end of June 2022. Congratulations to our new interns!

April 8, 2022    

Ngan Huang promoted to Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery extends its congratulations to Ngan F. Huang, PhD, for her promotion to Associate Professor with tenure, effective April 1, 2022. Dr. Huang has built her extensive research career in bioengineering, stem cell biology, and cardiovascular medicine. Learn more about Dr. Ngan Huang.

April 1, 2022    

JAMA Surgery appoints Leah Backhus as inaugural Deputy Editor of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

JAMA Surgery recently announced the appointment of Leah Backhus, MD, MPH, as the inaugural deputy editor of diversity, equity, and inclusion, effective March 1, 2022.

March 30, 2022    

Becoming a heart surgeon: A study on cardiothoracic surgery residency programs

A group of Stanford cardiothoracic physicians and scientists surveyed US cardiothoracic surgery residency program directors about the characteristics of successful candidates. Their study, by first author Oluwatomisin Obafemi, MD, and senior author Anson Lee, MD, was recently published in Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

March 21, 2022    

Stanford Health Care named 2021 Top Hospital by Leapfrog Group: Meeting quality standards in high-risk surgeries

Stanford Health Care was named a 2021 Top Hospital by Leapfrog Group, a leading watchdog organization focused on the quality and safety of U.S. hospitals. Hospitals must fulfill criteria for high-risk surgeries and procedures - this includes meeting standards for robust volume, processes of care, and patient outcomes. 

March 21, 2022    

Long-term success: Stanford's experience in heart transplantation over five decades

A study led by researchers at the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery found long-term survival after heart transplantation has improved over the last 50 years at the longest-running heart transplant center in the United States. "Stanford has a decades-long history of pioneering, leading, and advancing the field of cardiac transplantation," said Joseph Woo, MD, the Norman E. Shumway Professor and Chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and senior author on the paper.  

March 16, 2022    

Celebrating Women in Medicine | Guest: Leah Backhus, MD, MPH, FACS

Celebrating Women's History Month, Stanford Medcast Episode 37 features Stanford thoracic surgeon, Dr. Leah Backhus.  

March 8, 2022    

Helping Women Surgeons Succeed at Negotiation

Johnson & Johnson Institute and the Women’s Leadership and Inclusion (WLI) network hosted a virtual program that shared the experiences of leading surgeons, including Leah Backhus, MD, MPH, and advice from a negotiation expert.

March 1, 2022    

SCVMC chief of cardiothoracic surgery David Ogden retires after 13 years at Stanford

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery extends its appreciation to Dr. David Ogden, Clinical Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, for his 13 years of service at Stanford Medicine, who retired on February 28.

March 1, 2022    

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children Welcomes Dr. Louis Capecci as its First Full-Time Pediatric Heart Surgeon

Stanford Children’s Health has a long-standing relationship with Kapi'olani Medical Center, which includes providing cardiac surgery, neurology, genetics services, and solid organ transplants to patients. Dr. Capecci is working as Kapi'olani’s first full-time pediatric heart surgeon and will consult regularly with the Stanford Children’s Health Betty Irene Moore Children’s Heart Center care team over highly complex pediatric heart cases.

February 28, 2022    

Woman With Heart Problem Achieves Dream of Becoming a Mother, Twice Over

Stanford hospitals collaborated closely to provide deeply specialized care to expectant mom with heart condition.

February 23, 2022    

Groundbreaking Heart-Lung Procedure Gives Toddler a Chance at a Full Life

The heart team at Stanford Children’s Hospital performed a lifesaving surgical procedure for Santana with both heart failure and lung complications. Dr. Elisabeth Martin, MD, was the pediatric cardiovascular surgeon.

February 15, 2022    

Alumna shares cross-disciplinary research experience in bioengineering and cardiothoracic surgery

Lyndsay (Stapleton) Smith, PhD, is a former graduate research fellow in Dr. Joseph Woo's laboratory. She received her PhD in Bioengineering from Stanford's Department of Bioengineering in 2020. She shares her story in the next installment of the Educational Excellence Spotlight series.

February 15, 2022    

Celebrate Heart Month with food

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and worldwide. This February, Stanford Health Care celebrates Heart Month at every meal with small, easy changes to advocate cardiovascular health and raise awareness about heart disease.

February 9, 2022    

Department fundraises for TSF cardiothoracic surgery research programs

For the second time this year, the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery participated in the Thoracic Surgery Foundation (TSF) Virtual 5K Fun Run & Walk and was named the Top Fund-Raising Team with $1,665! The "Cardinal Chest Cutters" was led by team captain Leah Backhus, MD, and participated in the virtual 5K run or walk during the week of Jan. 21- Feb 1, 2022. All fundraising proceeds benefited the TSF cardiothoracic surgery research programs.

February 8, 2022    

New Heart, New Chance for Young Man with Becker Muscular Dystrophy

Heart specialists at Stanford Children’s Health’s acted boldly to care for Serafin, who had advanced heart failure. Elisabeth Martin, MD performed Serafin’s heart transplant almost a year to the day of his VAD surgery performed by Michael Ma, MD.

February 8, 2022    

Feisty Micropreemie With Heart Defect Beats Incredible Odds

Michael Ma, MD, specializes in performing heart surgeries on tiny babies at Stanford Children’s Health, including Emmett Watanabe, who had a congenital heart defect. Working closely with an interdisciplinary team of pediatric cardiologists, heart surgeons, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists, and other specialists, Dr. Ma performed open-heart surgery on Emmett to save his life.

Video: 14-Month-Old Baby Thrives Despite Rare Heart Condition

February 1, 2022    

Celebrating Black History Month

In recognition of Black History Month, we celebrate the many accomplishments of our colleagues and their central role at Stanford Medicine. We are grateful to all our extraordinary faculty, staff, residents, trainees, and students for their knowledge, skill, and perspectives.

February 1, 2022    

Donor Hearts Can Withstand Longer Ischemic Times

Longer allograft ischemic times didn't have to mean worse outcomes for patients in the long run, one heart transplant program found.

January 31, 2022    

StanfordMed Pulse: A Message from the Leaders

Dear Community, On the eve of American Heart Month, we want to express our deep gratitude to all those at Stanford Medicine working to prevent, treat, and better understand heart disease. The exemplary care and innovative research emerging from our community continues to benefit patients around the world.

January 31, 2022    

Hiesinger Lab awarded $2.8M to develop AI-based platform to predict cardiovascular surgery and heart failure outcomes

William Hiesinger, MD, Assistant Professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Stanford School of Medicine, is the principal investigator of this award. He currently serves as the Surgical Director of the Stanford Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, where he leads and directs the surgical implantation of ventricular assist devices (VADs) in patients with end-stage heart failure.

January 31, 2022    

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford achieves highest level of surgical verification

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, the center of Stanford Children’s Health, has been verified as a Level I children’s surgery center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Children’s Surgery Verification Program—the highest designation a hospital can receive.

January 26, 2022    

Department research and speaker presentations featured at the 2022 Society of Thoracic Surgeons Annual Meeting

The Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery will present the latest research at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons 58th Annual Meeting from January 29 to 30, 2022. The two-day virtual meeting will feature high-quality research and science and more than 150 virtual posters in all cardiothoracic surgery disciplines. The following speaker and presentations will be showcased at the meeting

January 26, 2022    

Translational research in cardiothoracic surgery and bioengineering 

Amanda Steele, PhD, a former postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Joseph Woo's laboratory, talks about her research experience in the Departments of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Bioengineering. She received her PhD in bioengineering from Stanford in 2019.

January 13, 2022    

Cardiothoracic surgery resident pursues doctorate in bioengineering

After completing medical school, Yuanjia Zhu, MD, wanted to pursue an PhD in bioengineering to help her on her path to becoming an academic surgeon. She shares her story in the next installment of the Educational Excellence Spotlight series.

January 13, 2022    

Cardiothoracic surgeon obtains master's degree in healthcare administration

Elan Burton, MD, MHA, practices at SHC, VAPAHCS, and SCVMC and specializes in coronary bypass grafting, valve surgery, aortic surgery, and minimally invasive coronary bypass grafting. In the next Educational Excellence Spotlight series, Dr. Burton shares her experience pursuing a master's degree in healthcare administration.

January 13, 2022    

Pediatric-trained cardiac surgeon reflects on graduate training in clinical research

This new Educational Excellence Spotlight series features individuals who pursue advanced degrees while in practice, training, or residency. Andrew Goldstone, MD, PhD, reflects on his graduate training as a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Joseph Woo's lab.

January 13, 2022    

Educational Excellence Spotlights

In this new Educational Excellence Spotlight series, we feature individuals who pursue advanced degrees while in practice, training, or residency within the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Read insights from current and graduated students' experience within their graduate programs, research experience, and reflections.

January 13, 2022    

Stanford’s expertise in rare and complicated heart surgeries provides life-saving options for patients

Stanford has a reputation for excelling at complex heart procedures and often receives referrals such as these, said Foss’ surgeon, Joseph Woo, MD, professor and chair of cardiothoracic surgery and the Norman E. Shumway Professor. It’s a big part of the reason U.S. News & World Report has ranked Stanford Health Care among the top 10 best cardiology and heart surgery programs for three years running, Woo said. This year, Stanford Health Care ranked No. 8.

January 5, 2022    

Scaffolding as a Platform for Cell Delivery for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Therapy

A group of CVI member researchers, led by first authors Joscha Mulorz and Mahdis Shayan and senior author Ngan F. Huang, recently highlighted a promising means of cell delivery to serve as a therapeutic strategy for AAA treatment. Their findings were published in Biomaterials Science.

January 4, 2022