Joanna Chikwe Takes Over as Editor-in-Chief of The Annals

STS News, Winter 2022 — For only the sixth time in the 56-year history of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, the journal is welcoming a new Editor-in-Chief.

Cardiac surgeon Joanna Chikwe, MD, FRCS, has been charged with leading the publication and the soon-to-be-launched open access journal, Annals Short Reports, effective January 1.

“It’s rather like moving from the passenger seat of a carefully driven Bentley GT to the driver’s seat, seeing a perfect stretch of open road and putting your foot on the gas,” said Dr. Chikwe, from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. “This is an exhilarating time to run a journal of this caliber, simply because gentle shifts in editorial and digital strategy can be transformative.”

With an impressive vision for The Annals, Dr. Chikwe plans to work toward making the journal a “must-read”—the first choice for “the best research, most thought-provoking editorials, and authoritative content in cardiac and thoracic surgery—a pocket plenary session,” she said.

Dr. Chikwe detailed key strategic goals that include streamlining editorial processes and further increasing the impact factor in order to help expand The Annals’ relevance and readership engagement.

Also important will be enhancing the journal’s digital footprint. Readers of The Annals are looking for unlimited, 24/7/365 access to robust, relevant articles and other high-quality content, according to Dr. Chikwe. She explained that her senior partners prefer stacks of paper editions, her peers access almost everything online, and her residents stay updated through social media channels.

“I believe none of the specialty organizations have fully realized their potential to provide global education and the highest impact science in a 24/7/365 environment across all these platforms, and The Annals, with STS support, is superbly placed to do this,” Dr. Chikwe said.

A recognized leader in the fields of robotic mitral valve repair and coronary revascularization, Dr. Chikwe is the founding chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. She also serves as the Irina and George Schaeffer Distinguished Chair in Cardiac Surgery and professor of cardiac surgery.

“Dr. Chikwe is an accomplished cardiac surgeon with an impressive record of academic scholarship, effective leadership, and clinical achievement,” said STS President Sean C. Grondin, MD, MPH, FRCSC. “With significant editorial experience, she has proposed exciting strategies to make The Annals the most impactful and engaging journal in cardiothoracic surgery. We are thrilled to welcome her to the leadership team and are looking forward to continuing our work together to provide a high-quality journal for our specialty.”

Dr. Chikwe grew up in Birmingham, England, and after high school, she spent 2 years studying art in Florence, Italy. This experience helped her realize that art was “always going to be a great hobby,” but medicine was her lifetime passion. Dr. Chikwe also credits watching a documentary featuring the pioneering work of Sir Magdi Habib Yacoub, MD, for inspiring her to be a cardiac surgeon.

She went on to complete her medical degree at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, cardiothoracic surgery residency at the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals in London, and cardiac surgery fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. She remained on the Mount Sinai faculty for more than a decade before being recruited to lead the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Cedars-Sinai.

For The Annals, Dr. Chikwe previously served as deputy editor for adult cardiac surgery and associate editor for feature articles. In addition, she has published more than 200 peer-reviewed contributions and three surgery textbooks, as well as led six expert consensus writing groups.

“When I think of where I find most joy in my work, it’s doing complex surgery beautifully, the astonishing accomplishments that come from developing great teams and collaborations, and those moments when you or your residents recognize a really impactful research idea or finding that will change minds and practice,” said Dr. Chikwe. “I enjoy teaching and writing, and the exciting thing about The Annals is the opportunity to bring the scientific and educational impact of the journal and STS to a new audience and new heights.”

Dr. Chikwe’s appointment follows the departure of G. Alexander Patterson, MD, FRCS(C), who served as Editor-in-Chief since 2015. The first issue under Dr. Chikwe’s editorship is expected to publish in mid-2022.