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Vascular Surgeon, Researchers Join Smidt Heart Institute

Vascular Surgeon and Researchers Fuel Innovation in the Department of Cardiac Surgery

The Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai announces the expansion of its faculty in both vascular and cardiac surgery. Joining the team is Elizabeth Chou, MD, a surgeon in the Division of Vascular Surgery, and researchers David Lefer, PhD, director of translational research in the Department of Cardiac Surgery, and Traci Goodchild, PhD, who will serve as director of operations in the Cardiac Surgery Translational Core Lab.

“We’re excited to welcome Dr. Chou to our vascular surgical team,” said Ali Azizzadeh, MD, director of Vascular Surgery in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. “Leveraging her vascular surgery expertise continues a legacy of innovation and excellence in the treatment and care of our patients, for which our institution is renowned.”

Chou earned her medical degree from the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine and trained at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Integrated Vascular Surgery Residency Program, where she practiced complex open and endovascular procedures.

Chou also served as a National Institutes of Health T32 Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her translational research investigates the genetic underpinnings of aortic disease and vascular surgical outcomes in underrepresented groups and women. She has authored or coauthored over 50 publications, abstracts and book chapters.

Lefer recently served as director, Cardiovascular Center of Excellence, and professor of Pharmacology at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. He earned a PhD in physiology-pharmacology from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and completed a fellowship in molecular cardiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Lefer has made significant contributions in the fields of myocardial protection and coronary physiology throughout his career and has received numerous grants, honors and awards. He has authored over 250 publications.

Goodchild, who joins the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in December, most recently served as associate professor, director of Translational Core Laboratory and the Cardiovascular Center of Excellence in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Louisiana State University Health in New Orleans. She earned a PhD in biomedical science at Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia. She has received numerous research grants and has authored over 30 manuscripts.

“Drs. Lefer and Goodchild have done significant and critical work in the area of cardiac research throughout their tenures, and I’m pleased that our team will benefit from their incredible knowledge and drive to contribute further to research breakthroughs that advance the field of cardiac medicine,” said Joanna Chikwe, MD, chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery and the Irina and George Schaeffer Distinguished Chair in Cardiac Surgery.

The Smidt Heart Institute is ranked #1 in California and #3 in the nation for Cardiology and Heart Surgery in the 2022-23 U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals” issue. It is also ranked the #1 adult heart transplant program in the nation and #1 in the nation for expertise in transcatheter aortic valve replacements.

The Smidt Heart Institute continues to publish research that leads the way in developing improved treatment options for patients. And earlier this year, Chikwe, a recognized leader in robotic mitral valve repair, was the first woman to be named editor-in-chief of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ premier academic journal, The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

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