News Briefs: Winter 2020

STS, EACTS Launch New Strategic Collaboration

STS and the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS) have announced a 5-year strategic partnership focused on expanding collaborative educational offerings and leveraging the power of both organizations’ respective clinical data registries for quality improvement and research.

The two associations share a commitment to professional excellence and improving the lives of patients with cardiothoracic diseases. In addition, STS and EACTS have a long history of collaboration. The extremely well-received 3rd Annual STS/EACTS Latin America Cardiovascular Surgery Conference brought together 300 people from 33 countries to participate in innovative educational sessions, lively discussions, and hands-on activities in Cancun, Mexico (see pages 12-13 for more details).

In 2020, the organizations are planning additional joint conferences in Latin America (Santiago, Chile and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), as well as other collaborative programs. More information will be shared in the coming months.

STS Invests in the Future of the Specialty

To ensure the specialty’s continued success, those considering careers in cardiothoracic surgery should be identified early and nurtured through mentorship and education.

That’s the rationale behind the Society’s Looking to the Future (LTTF) Scholarship Program, which provides funding for medical students and general surgery residents to attend the STS Annual Meeting. Sixty scholarships have been awarded for the 2020 meeting in New Orleans—bringing the grand total of scholarships provided since the program’s inception in 2006 to more than 600.

“It seems that each year, our applicants are more intelligent, accomplished, and diverse than the previous year, and I think that reflects very well for the future of our specialty,” said LTTF Task Force Chair Elizabeth A. David, MD.

Scholarship recipients will attend specialized sessions covering the clinical and non-clinical aspects of cardiothoracic surgical careers, as well as other sessions of interest. Each scholarship winner also is paired with a surgeon mentor who can share insights on what it’s like to be a cardiothoracic surgeon and advice for how to carve a path in the field.

“The dedicated time that the scholarship recipients spend with their mentors frequently results in lifelong relationships and can be helpful in residency applications, career planning, and counseling down the line,” Dr. David said.

The program not only is beneficial for the recipients, but also for the future of cardiothoracic surgery as a whole. 

“The LTTF program has been a valuable means of increasing diversity in our specialty by recruiting the best and brightest students and residents, regardless of their current learning environment,” Dr. David said.

View a list of the 2020 scholarship recipients at

The 2019 Looking to the Future Scholarship recipients enjoyed a full slate of educational sessions and networking events at the Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Studies on Infective Endocarditis, Lung Cancer Surgery for the ‘Oldest Old’ Create Media Buzz

Research into the impact of substance use disorder on the risk of dying after valve surgery and the chances of 5-year survival for nonagenarians with early stage lung cancer were the subjects of two press releases issued by STS in the last quarter of 2019. The studies were published in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Substance Use Disorder Significantly Increases Risk of Death from Heart Infection

  • Researchers: Alysse G. Wurcel, MD, MS, and colleagues from Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University in Boston
  • Main finding: Patients who suffer from infective endocarditis (IE) and struggle with substance use disorder have a 240% increased risk of dying within 6 months to 5 years after valve surgery compared to other IE patients.
  • Featured in: Cardiology Today, HealthDay News, and Infectious Disease Advisor

Surgery Provides ‘Oldest Old’ Lung Cancer Patients with Excellent 5-Year Survival

  • Researchers: Chi-Fu Jeffrey Yang, MD, and colleagues from Stanford University in California, Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in California
  • Main finding: Many nonagenarians with stages I-IV non-small cell lung cancer do not receive therapy, but surgery in this population often is associated with better overall survival.
  • Featured in: Medical Xpress, Physicians Weekly, and

Database Professionals Gain Tools for Optimizing Data Collection

The 2019 Advances in Quality & Outcomes: A Data Managers Meeting, held in October in New Orleans, provided more than 500 attendees with strategies for improving data collection and, ultimately, patient outcomes. Speakers discussed all four components of the STS National Database, sharing details on coding and abstraction for specific procedures, results of the 2018 audits, best practices for presenting data to physicians and executives, and more.

Attendees were able to test the new reporting dashboards under development.

In addition, attendees received a preview of the next generation Database. Representatives from the Society’s new data warehouse, IQVIA, gave detailed presentations, answered questions, and provided hands-on demos of the new dashboards.

Save the date: The 2020 AQO meeting is scheduled for September 30–October 2 in Providence, Rhode Island.

View more photos from the meeting at

(From left) Chair of the STS Workforce on Adult Cardiac and Vascular Surgery Pavan Atluri, MD, STS Canadian Director Marc Ruel, MD, MPH, and STS member Michael P. Fischbein, MD

Ruel Honored by AHA

At the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2019 in Philadelphia, STS Canadian Director Marc Ruel, MD, MPH, received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the AHA Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia. The award, which is given only once every 3 years, recognizes individuals who have made substantial professional contributions to the field.

Highlights from ACS Clinical Congress

The Society and the specialty were well represented at the 2019 American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress. On Sunday, October 27, longtime STS member Valerie W. Rusch, MD, was installed as the College’s 100th president. STS Past President Michael J. Mack, MD, gave the prestigious John H. Gibbon Jr. Lecture on Monday, October 28, presented in honor of the pioneering cardiothoracic surgeon who invented the heart-lung machine. Later that evening, the Society held a hands-on education course, Cardiothoracic Surgery in Your Future, to introduce medical students and general surgery residents to the specialty.

Finally, on Tuesday, October 29, STS member Devendra S. Saksena, MBBS, was presented with the ACS/Pfizer Surgical Humanitarian Award for his pioneering work establishing cardiothoracic surgery services in India and Africa.


The cardiothoracic surgery programs launched by Devendra S. Saksena, MBBS (center), have reached millions of people who previously did not have access to cardiac operations.


New ACS President Valerie W. Rusch, MD, is the vice chair of clinical research and holds the Miner Family Chair in Intrathoracic Cancers at Memorial Sloan  Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.


In his lecture, “Innovation: A Surgical Imperative,” Michael J. Mack, MD, described several moments during his career when he had epiphanies about innovation—most recently with the advent of transcatheter aortic valve replacement.


More than 90 Cardiothoracic Surgery in Your Future attendees received hands-on instruction in both cardiac (aortic valve replacement, vessel suturing, and mitral valve repair) and general thoracic (VATS lobectomy, esophageal anastomosis, and chest wall reconstruction/rib fixation) procedures and techniques.