STS News, Summer 2019 — For cardiothoracic surgeons establishing their research programs or pursuing advanced surgical training, grants from The Thoracic Surgery Foundation (TSF) can serve as stepping stones to bigger endeavors.
As the Society’s charitable arm, TSF provides funding for research, education, leadership courses, and surgical outreach missions and awarded $951,500 in grants for 2019. Applications for 2020 grants open soon (see sidebar for more details).
Two previous grant recipients have found that the support provided by TSF has had a significant impact on their careers.
"This financial support [from TSF] set the stage for my future research endeavors, allowed me to be promoted, and was absolutely critical to getting the R01 funding."
Over the course of the R01 grant, the researchers will use EVLP with MG53 to conduct lung transplants in porcine models, setting the stage for future clinical trials. They also will work to solidify an assessment signature that would identify lung injury more precisely than arterial blood gases. Dr. Whitson said his ultimate goal is for more patients to receive lung transplants and have better outcomes.
As TSF prepares to open submissions for its 2020 award cycle, Dr. Whitson advised applicants to be persistent and seek strong collaborations.
"TSF grants provide resources to advance the research and also bring recognition to the institution," he explained. "This financial support set the stage for my future research endeavors, allowed me to be promoted, and was absolutely critical to getting the R01 funding."
During his yearlong Davidson Fellowship at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center in Texas, Dr. Wyler von Ballmoos implanted more than 350 transcatheter heart valves and performed more than 100 minimally invasive surgeries.
He spent substantial time in the cath lab and hybrid OR, improving his skills in utilizing transcatheter technology to treat various conditions, including valve disease, paravalvular leak closure, and aortic pathologies.
Dr. Wyler von Ballmoos also focused on minimally invasive cardiac surgery cases consisting mostly of mitral valve repair surgery, aortic valve replacement, and coronary artery bypass grafting surgery. He developed expertise in imaging for structural heart interventions, including advanced imaging technology (such as 3D image fusion) that also is useful for minimally invasive cardiac surgery.
"Surgeons who are not experts in transcatheter treatments of these disease processes miss out on the opportunity to be the one unbiased advocate offering the full therapeutic spectrum to patients."
"The time spent with thought leaders in the field has given me more breadth and depth in terms of my skillset and knowledge, allowing me to take better care of simple and complex cases alike," Dr. Wyler von Ballmoos said.
He encouraged other cardiothoracic surgeons to apply for the Davidson Fellowship and advance their knowledge in transcatheter techniques.
"As the Roman philosopher Seneca once said, 'Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant.' That is no different for the treatment of structural heart and aortic disease in the 21st century," Dr. Wyler von Ballmoos said. "Surgeons who are not experts in transcatheter treatments of these disease processes miss out on the opportunity to be the one unbiased advocate offering the full therapeutic spectrum to patients."