Society of Thoracic Surgeons elects new president

Feb. 7, 2020

Joseph A. Dearani, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon and chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery and Professor of Surgery at Mayo Clinic, was elected President of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons during the organization’s 56th Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

“Being elected as the STS President is the highest honor of my career and means everything to me,” said Dr. Dearani. “I look forward to making a difference and working with colleagues at the Society and other volunteer leaders to address some of the challenges in cardiothoracic surgery. My commitment is to the whole specialty, and I will do my best to get in the trenches in all three areas—adult cardiac, congenital heart, and general thoracic surgery—and give attention to their issues and needs.”

After completing his undergraduate education at Fordham University, he earned his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, and participated in a surgical research fellowship at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. He then completed residencies in general surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center and thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the Mayo Clinic before matriculating in a congenital cardiac surgery fellowship at Loma Linda University. Afterward, he returned to the Mayo Clinic, where he’s been practicing ever since.

“Cardiothoracic surgery is a specialty that’s constantly innovating and evolving. It’s a specialty that has a unique interface with technology. It’s a specialty that combines important qualities such as intellect, critical thinking skills, judgment, technical abilities, and perseverance—it’s never over until it’s over, and you never give up,” said Dr. Dearani.

Dr. Dearani has authored or co-authored more than 550 peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts, and book chapters. In addition, he has participated in hundreds of presentations on these topics. Throughout his career, he has been deeply involved with various humanitarian outreach activities in Asia and South America, having made more than 20 trips to those continents over the past two decades. In addition, he served as medical director of Children’s HeartLink for 20 years, leading efforts to train medical teams and work with government officials in low- and middle-income countries, providing education, and transforming health care in underserved parts of the world.

“When you participate in humanitarian activities, you see what the challenges are, while also brainstorming ways to make things better with much fewer resources,” said Dr. Dearani. “Your goal is to achieve a sustainable model in a hospital that has the ability to grow, resulting in the greatest impact for the greatest number of people in that underserved area.”

An STS member since 1997, Dr. Dearani has served on numerous Society leadership bodies; most recently he was First Vice President. Dr. Dearani also chaired the Workforce on Congenital Heart Surgery and the Workforce on Surgical Treatment of Adults with Congenital Heart Disease. In addition, he has held leadership positions in other cardiothoracic surgery organizations, including the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and the Congenital Heart Surgeons’ Society.

As STS President, Dr. Dearani said that one of his priorities will be the continued evolution of the STS National Database and refinement of its voluntary public reporting program. Also important is expanding diversity in cardiothoracic surgery, especially in relation to women. “We have more women going into the specialty, and cardiothoracic surgery will be better for it,” he explained. “Women bring a different perspective. They bring a different viewpoint, temperament, and tone to patient care and administrative meetings, helping make the specialty of cardiothoracic surgery better for the patients of tomorrow.”

STS has the story.