STS Distinguished Service Award recognizes dedication to the Society and the specialty

CHICAGO (January 30, 2022) — In recognition of extraordinary efforts and steadfast service, Joseph A. Dearani, MD, and Joseph E. Bavaria, MD, each have been presented with The Society of Thoracic Surgeons 2022 Distinguished Service Award at the Society’s 58th Annual Meeting.

“It is my honor and great pleasure to recognize the significant contributions of these two outstanding surgeons,” said 2021-2022 STS President Sean C. Grondin, MD, MPH, FRCSC. “We congratulate Dr. Joe Dearani and Dr. Joe Bavaria and thank them for their leadership and decades of selfless dedication to STS.”

Joseph A. Dearani, MD 
Rochester, MN

An STS member since 1997, Dr. Dearani has served on numerous Society leadership bodies; most recently he was STS President. Dr. Dearani also chaired the Workforce on Congenital Heart Surgery and the Workforce on Surgical Treatment of Adults with Congenital Heart Disease. In addition, he has held prominent leadership positions in other cardiothoracic surgery organizations, including the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, Congenital Heart Surgeons’ Society, and The Thoracic Surgery Foundation (TSF)—the charitable arm of STS.

With interests and expertise in pediatric and adult congenital heart surgery, as well as robotic heart surgery, Dr. Dearani has authored or co-authored more than 550 peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts, and book chapters. In addition, he has participated in hundreds of presentations on these topics.

Also throughout his career, Dr. Dearani has been deeply involved with various humanitarian outreach activities in Asia and South America, having made more than 20 trips to those continents over the past 2 decades. In addition, he served as medical director of Children’s HeartLink for 20 years, leading efforts to train medical teams and work with government officials in low- and middle-income countries, providing education, and transforming health care in underserved parts of the world.

After completing his undergraduate education at Fordham University in New York City, Dr. Dearani earned his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, and participated in a surgical research fellowship at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He then completed residencies in general surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center and thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the Mayo Clinic before matriculating in a congenital cardiac surgery fellowship at Loma Linda University in California. Afterward, he returned to the Mayo Clinic, where he’s been practicing ever since. Dr. Dearani currently is the director of pediatric and adult congenital heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic and professor of surgery in the Mayo College of Medicine.

“Dr. Dearani’s contributions to advancing cardiothoracic issues are too numerous to list, with perhaps none more significant than those made during his tenure as STS President from 2020 to 2021,” said Dr. Grondin. “Dr. Dearani provided exemplary leadership guiding the Society through a virtual annual meeting and supporting our members as we all continuously adjusted to rapidly changing and very uncertain times. His strong leadership and calm, thoughtful, and respectful manner was just what STS needed to manage one of the most challenging years for members and patients around the world.”

Joseph E. Bavaria, MD
Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Bavaria—an STS member since 1996—currently is TSF President. He also has served on numerous Society leadership bodies; most recently he was President. In addition, Dr. Bavaria was Director-at-Large on the Board of Directors and Chair of the Workforce on New Technology, as well as a member of the Workforce on Graduate Medical Education, Workforce on Annual Meeting, and Workforce on International Meetings.

Raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Bavaria spent many of his adolescent years living abroad, moving across Europe with his family. He started high school at the American School in Paris, France, before returning to the US to complete his high school education.

Dr. Bavaria received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans, where he later earned his medical degree and participated in the Honors Chemical Engineering Exchange Program at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He completed his surgical internship and residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dr. Bavaria served as chief resident of surgery before completing additional residencies in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is the vice chief of cardiovascular surgery and director of thoracic aortic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. 

With interests and expertise in aortic disease, aortic dissections, as well as aortic valve repair and valve-sparing procedures, Dr. Bavaria has authored or co-authored more than 540 peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts, and book chapters. In addition, he has participated in nearly 800 presentations on these topics.

“Dr. Bavaria has a long and distinguished career of serving STS and as an outstanding academic surgeon,” said Dr. Grondin. “As STS President, he brought an innovative and energetic leadership style that helped the Society make significant advancements in many areas such as collaborations with other international organizations. As President of TSF, Dr. Bavaria has worked tirelessly to support researchers financially and to ensure several awards were put in place to support our diverse membership. In 2021, the Foundation raised a record $3 million under his leadership.”

The Distinguished Service Award, established in 1969, recognizes individuals who have made significant and far-reaching contributions to STS and the specialty.


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Founded in 1964, The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is a not-for-profit organization representing more than 7,700 cardiothoracic surgeons, researchers, and allied health care professionals worldwide who are dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lung, and esophagus, as well as other surgical procedures within the chest. The Society’s mission is to advance cardiothoracic surgeons’ delivery of the highest quality patient care through collaboration, education, research, and advocacy.