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Joseph Nellis, MD, MBA

House Staff
Start Year: 
University of Iowa
Medical School: 
University of Iowa

Clinical and Research Interests

  • Volume-outcomes relationship in congenital cardiac surgery
  • Quality improvement
  • Downstream financial implications within healthcare

What were you looking for in a residency program?

I was looking for a residency program that felt right. I was looking for a place where the training was second to none, the people were genuine and hard working, and life was easy outside of the hospital.

What are the strengths of the Duke program?

First and foremost, it's the people. The faculty and residents at Duke are genuine, high-achieving individuals, who are committed to improving every day. From a research standpoint, I am not sure you will find better support anywhere else in the country. Duke guarantees your salary and provides you with two years of protected time to establish yourself as a surgeon-scientist. Your mentors shape and support your ideas, but the ideas are ultimately yours. Lastly, the program works. Duke has a reputation for producing leaders within surgery, regardless of the subspecialty you are interested in.

What advice do you have for incoming interns?

  • Get some rest
  • Make learning a part of your everyday
  • Stay humble

What do you like best about living in Durham and the Triangle?

Living in the Triangle is easy. I can leave the hospital after a long day, tired and beaten up, and stopping at the store or simply getting home is not difficult. There aren't traffic jams I need to avoid or public transportation that I need to coordinate. The everyday errands in the Triangle are stress free.

What do you like to do outside of Duke?

Outside of Duke, I enjoy trail running in or around Durham. When I find more time, I also enjoy cycling, windsurfing, kiteboarding, and cooking with friends.


Nellis, Joseph R., Nicholas D. Andersen, and Joseph W. Turek. “Commentary: Two Roads Diverged in a Wood: Norwood Conduit Type and Recurrent Pulmonary Artery Interventions.” Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 33, no. 1 (2021): 204–5.

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Turek, Joseph W., Joseph R. Nellis, Brenton G. Sherwood, Meera Kotagal, Andrew L. Mesher, Ravi R. Thiagarajan, Sonali S. Patel, et al. “Shifting Risks and Conflicting Outcomes-ECMO for Neonates with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia in the Modern Era.” J Pediatr 190 (November 2017): 163-168.e4.

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Demik, D., C. Paul, J. Nellis, S. Sciegienka, M. McHugh, and A. Reed. “Med school students getting the business.” Physician Leadership Journal, April 3, 2017.


Nellis, Joseph R., Joseph W. Turek, Osamah T. Aldoss, Dianne L. Atkins, and Benton Y. Ng. “Intervention for Supravalvar Pulmonary Stenosis After the Arterial Switch Operation.” Ann Thorac Surg 102, no. 1 (July 2016): 154–62.

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Keiser, Nicholas W., Susan E. Birket, Idil A. Evans, Scott R. Tyler, Adrianne K. Crooke, Xingshen Sun, Weihong Zhou, et al. “Defective innate immunity and hyperinflammation in newborn cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator-knockout ferret lungs.” American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology 52, no. 6 (June 2015): 683–94.

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Nellis, Joseph R., Zachary W. Fitch, Ashley Y. Choi, James M. Meza, Zebulon Z. Spector, Nicholas H. Von Bergen, Jose E. Torres, Jacob A. Klapper, Jude S. Sauer, and Joseph W. Turek. “A Minimally Invasive Approach for Placing Sew-On Epicardial Leads in the Child.” Innovations (Phila) 13, no. 6 (n.d.): 455–57.

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Alsarraj, Mohammed K., Joseph R. Nellis, Andrew M. Vekstein, Nicholas D. Andersen, and Joseph W. Turek. “Borrowing from Adult Cardiac Surgeons-Bringing Congenital Heart Surgery Up to Speed in the Minimally Invasive Era.” Innovations (Phila) 15, no. 2 (n.d.): 101–5.

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Nellis, Joseph R., Andrew M. Vekstein, James M. Meza, Nicholas D. Andersen, John C. Haney, and Joseph W. Turek. “Left Anterior Mini-Incision for Pulmonary Valve Replacement Following Tetralogy of Fallot Repair.” Innovations (Phila) 15, no. 2 (n.d.): 106–10.

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Vekstein, Andrew M., Joseph R. Nellis, James M. Meza, Nicholas D. Andersen, John C. Haney, and Joseph W. Turek. “Left Anterior Mini-Incision for Pulmonary Valve Replacement in a 12-Year-Old.” Innovations (Phila) 15, no. 2 (n.d.): 111–13.

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