Cardiac Surgery Research Ambassadorship Mentors
Cardiac and Thoracic Surgeon Mentors
Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam
Cynthia Chow Professor of Surgery; Chief of Cardiac Surgery; Director of Heart and Vascular Center
Valluvan Jeevanandam, MD, specializes in the surgical management of heart failure, and is an expert in high-risk cardiac surgery. He has performed more than 1,000 heart transplants — including the total artificial heart — and countless cardiac surgery procedures, including transmyocardial laser revascularization, complex valve reconstruction, and minimally invasive coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Dr. Jeevanandam was one of the physicians leaders of the transplant care team that made history in December 2018 after performing two triple-organ transplants within 27 hours, replacing the failing hearts, livers and kidneys of 29-year-olds Sarah McPharlin and Daru Smith.
Dr. Husam Balkhy
Professor of Surgery; Director of Robotic and Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery
Husam H. Balkhy, MD, is a pioneer in the field of minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery. He specializes in the treatment of coronary artery disease, heart valve disorders, atrial fibrillation and other cardiac diseases, using robotic and less invasive techniques in order to reduce pain, disability and recovery time. Dr. Balkhy is one of only a handful of surgeons in the world with extensive experience in performing robotic totally endoscopic beating heart coronary bypass grafting (TECAB). He also has extensive experience with robotic mitral valve surgery, robotic atrial fibrillation surgery and minimally invasive (port access) aortic valve surgery.
Dr. Narutoshi Hibino
Professor of Surgery
Narutoshi Hibino, MD, PhD is a highly respected surgeon with extensive experience in pediatric cardiac surgery and performs a wide range of complex procedures for patients with congenital heart disease. Dr. Hibino’s philosophy of patient care is guided by evidence-based research and the belief that putting the patient first and providing an individualized care plan provides the best possible outcome. As an avid researcher, Dr. Hibino believes that bench-to-bedside research is fostering a new generation of medical innovations, so he is focusing his efforts in translational research for patients with cardiovascular disease. His research is focused on using patients’ own cells to grow vascular grafts and cardiac tissue applying a process of tissue engineering and 3D printing.
Dr. Tae Song
Assistant Professor of Surgery; Surgical Director of the Lung Transplant Program and MCS/ECMO Program
As a highly skilled surgeon, Tae H. Song, MD, specializes in the treatment of complex cardiac and thoracic conditions. Dr. Song has expertise in heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support for patients suffering from heart failure. Dr. Song also performs lung transplantation to treat advanced lung disease. Additionally, he is experienced in the surgical management of aortic conditions, including aneurysms and dissections. Along with his clinical work, Dr. Song is committed to researching the best surgical techniques and treatment options to improve quality of care and patient outcomes. He has also served as the co-investigator on multiple cardiac and thoracic clinical trials.
Dr. David Onsager
Clinical Associate of Surgery
David Onsager, MD, is a highly skilled thoracic surgeon. Dr. Onsager has expertise in heart and lung transplantation as well as mechanical circulatory devices, including left ventricular assist devices and intra-aortic balloon pumps.
Through his research, Dr. Onsager has investigated ways to improve surgical techniques and processes, and has been published in multiple peer-reviewed journals, such as Thoracic Cardiovascular Surgery.
Coordinators, Nurse, and Staff Mentors
Manager of Cardiac and Vascular Research
Daniel Rodgers is an expert in clinical research and serves as the Manager of Cardiac and Vascular Research and Hibino and Ota Lab Manager. Additionally, he is a lead Ambassadorship student mentor and facilitates student involvement in various research projects.
Clinical Research Coordinator
Kayla Moore is a Clinical Research Coordinator and is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Bio-Psychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. Outside of the lab, she is passionate about health equity and hopes to better understand diversity and inclusion in healthcare settings.
Senior Administrative Specialist
Aaron Manewtih is the Cardiac Surgery Administrative Specialist and the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Cardiac Surgery. He is vital member of the team and has played an integral role in helping students become embedded into the program.
Advanced Practice Nurse
Karen Meehan, ACNS-BC, CVRN, is a board-certified advanced practice nurse. She has worked as an advanced practice nurse specializing in heart failure since 2009. Her focus has been patients supported with ventricular assist devices for end stage heart failure as a bridge to heart transplant, or as destination therapy.
Justin L Okray, PA-C, is a Physician Assistant and the MCS/VAD Coordinator at the University of Chicago. He provides medical care and coordination for all patients receiving mechanical circulatory support, including intaaortic balloon pump, Impella, percutaneous and durable LVAD, and ECMO.