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Smidt Heart Institute Names Joanna Chikwe Founding Chair of Cardiac Surgery

Heart surgeon Joanna Chikwe, FRCS, has been named Chair of the newly established Department of Cardiac Surgery in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. Chikwe’s appointment recognizes her major standing as an international leader in cardiovascular surgery with clinical expertise and major scholarly contributions in advanced heart valve repair, coronary revascularization and minimally invasive heart procedures.

“Joanna Chikwe is nationally regarded as an expert in heart valve repair,” said Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, executive vice president and dean of the Cedars-Sinai faculty. “She is also known for her tremendous leadership and exceptional track record for building successful clinical and academic programs.”

Chikwe comes to Cedars-Sinai from the Mount Sinai Health System in New York, where she was a professor in the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, and where she served as the founding Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s. A native of England, she earned her medical degree from the University of Oxford, and completed clinical fellowships in cardiothoracic surgery in London at the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals and in New York at Mount Sinai. Chikwe also served as the Cheng Endowed Professor of Surgery, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Director of the Heart Institute at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. 

At Cedars-Sinai, Chikwe will hold responsibility for leading the strategic direction of clinical, research and academic programs within the department and affiliate cardiac surgery programs, as well as expanding her clinical practice in advanced heart valve repair and minimally invasive cardiac surgery.

Alfredo Trento, MD, a longtime, beloved Cedars-Sinai cardiac surgeon and the former chief of cardiac surgery when it was a division in the Department of Surgery, will remain a part of the Smidt Heart Institute and will continue treating patients and performing surgical procedures.

"We are so fortunate that Dr. Trento will stay with the Smidt Heart Institute and continue to give our patients and our staff the benefit of his talent and experience," said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Smidt Heart Institute. 

Chikwe is a leading expert in cardiovascular outcomes research. She is best known for original contributions to the clinical evidence-base for mitral and tricuspid valve repair, coronary revascularization and aortic surgery. Chikwe has published more than 120 peer‐reviewed contributions in The New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and leading specialty journals; and she currently serves on five editorial boards. She is author of several surgical textbooks, including two editions of Cardiothoracic Surgery published by Oxford University Press.

“I am honored to help build on the truly remarkable Smidt Heart Institute accomplishments that include the leading heart transplantation, transcatheter valve and robotic cardiac surgery programs in North America, and the No. 3 ranking in the United States for Cardiology and Heart Surgery by U.S. News & World Report,” Chikwe said.

In addition to the new Department of Cardiac Surgery led by Chikwe, the Smidt Heart Institute has created a new Department of Cardiology that will be led by Christine M. Albert, MD, MPH, who also joins Cedars-Sinai from Harvard Medical School this fall.

“These two world-class departments will be propelled further under their new leadership,” said Marban. “Our two new Chairs will advance Cedars-Sinai’s strong foundational legacy in cardiology and cardiac surgery.”

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: A Fresh Start After Open-Heart Surgery