"2024 Extraordinary Women in CT Surgery Award Winners"
2024 STS Extraordinary Women in Cardiothoracic Surgery 

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) today, January 27, announced the 2024 Extraordinary Women in Cardiothoracic Surgery Award recipients at its 60th Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The second annual award, co-sponsored by STS and Women in Thoracic Surgery (WTS), recognizes women cardiothoracic surgeons who have demonstrated excellence in clinical practice and made notable contributions to the specialty. 

This year’s recipients are Dr. Shanda Blackmon, Dr. Andrea Carpenter, and Dr. Jane Schwabe.

“It is our privilege to recognize these accomplished women and celebrate their successes as surgeons, leaders, and mentors,” said STS First Vice President Jenna Romano, MD. “All of them are role models who inspire and motivate other cardiothoracic surgeons – women and men alike – to be the best they can be. 
Meet these outstanding women surgeons:

Shanda Blackmon, MD, a thoracic surgeon, first gained recognition for her technical skills in both lung and esophageal surgery. Her career began in Houston at the Methodist Hospital, where she successfully built and led a program in a highly competitive environment. Later, at Mayo Clinic, she continued to excel, establishing a thriving esophageal and lung program. Dr. Blackmon is moving back to Texas for a new position that will be announced by April.

Dr. Blackmon's contributions extend beyond the operating room. She has published over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, given over 200 oral presentations nationally and internationally, and has published more than 100 instructional videos covering various facets of thoracic surgery. Notably, she was an early adopter of 3D reconstruction for thoracic surgical planning, showcasing her commitment to cutting-edge initiatives. She holds a patent for a novel esophageal anastomotic device, leads critical tumor boards, and has developed innovative digital solutions like the UDD App.

Despite her demanding schedule, Dr. Blackmon prioritizes nurturing the next generation of surgeons. Her role as a mentor has made her a role model for aspiring female students and trainees and she has been a vocal proponent of inclusivity. Dr. Blackmon has served as the STS Chair of the Council on Membership, encouraging her peers to learn, connect, and help advance the specialty through involvement in the Society.

Dr. Blackmon’s peers see her as an inspiration for others as she works tirelessly to promote those around her. 

Andrea Carpenter, MD, a thoracic surgeon at UT Health, has carved an illustrious career marked by a remarkable academic and military background and pioneering surgical techniques. 

A proud alumna of George Washington University School of Medicine, Dr. Carpenter holds an MD along with an MS from the University of Utah, and a PhD in physiology from Penn State. Her post-doctoral training at the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine marked the beginning of a distinguished career, and she later joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins as a research associate.

Dr. Carpenter's military service is a testament to her resilience and determination. She became the first woman cardiothoracic surgeon to serve as Flight Commander of Cardiothoracic Surgery in the US Air Force’s 58th Medical Wing. Achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, she transitioned to academia at the University of Texas in San Antonio, where she currently serves as clinical professor and residency program director of integrated thoracic surgery.

As a strong advocate for women, Dr. Carpenter served as the president of Women in Thoracic Surgery (WTS) from 2000 to 2002 and played a key role in establishing and promoting the WTS mentorship and scholarship programs. She served as a member of the STS Finance Committee and chaired the Education Committee of the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education.

Colleagues who work closely with Dr. Carpenter say she is a strong leader who will have a lasting impact in cardiothoracic surgery and a trailblazer for women in the field.

Jane Schwabe, MD, a thoracic surgeon at Mosaic Life Care, emerges as a woman leader in the field for her clinical excellence and commitment to community service. Her career is characterized by a deep-rooted dedication to patient care, innovative surgical practices, and a profound impact on community health.

Dr. Schwabe’s early career journey began with her general surgery residency at Creighton University, where she earned induction into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. She pursued cardiothoracic training at the University of Washington and has spent the past two decades at Mosaic Life Care, where she has played pivotal roles in various leadership positions, including medical staff president, Board of Governors for Heartland Clinic, and medical director of the cardiothoracic surgery division. She received the University of Missouri Medical School Teacher of the Year award in 2015. 

Dr. Schwabe’s community service, focused on health education, is exceptional. She has led the development and deployment of several community health initiatives, including Women's Wellness Initiatives, Mission to Move, Live Well St. Joe, and Pound Plunge. One of her most rewarding volunteer experiences was her work with elementary and middle schools where she has spent countless hours talking with children to promote smoking prevention, exercise, and other healthy habits. Her contributions were recognized with the Robert Stuber Physician Recognition Award in 2010 and the Humanitarian of the Year award in 2015.

Her peers say that her remarkable contributions stand as a testament to her exceptional character and lasting impact on the field of cardiothoracic surgery.

“These extraordinary women are vital voices in cardiothoracic surgery,” said Daniela Molena, MD, president of Women in Thoracic Surgery. “They demonstrate the courage, strength, and determination we need to help advance the specialty and inspire a new generation of women cardiothoracic surgeon leaders.”

STS Announces the Nina Starr Braunwald Center

In further recognition and support of women cardiothoracic surgeons, STS and The Thoracic Surgery Foundation, STS’s charitable arm, announced the creation of the Nina Starr Braunwald Center, a virtual destination offering innovative programs, advocacy efforts, education, and scholarships aimed at issues of special interest to women CT surgeons.
Dr. Nina Starr Braunwald, a thoracic surgeon and medical researcher, was the first woman surgeon certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgeons At the age of 32, Dr. Braunwald led the operative team that implanted the first successful artificial human mitral valve replacement, a device she designed and fabricated. The Center honors her contributions to the specialty through her groundbreaking research and clinical expertise, and ensures her legacy will be recognized, respected, and remembered today and for future generations of cardiothoracic surgeons.