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Duke Surgery Appoints New Chief of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Edward P. Chen, MD

The Duke Section of Surgical Disciplines is pleased to announce the appointment of Edward P. Chen, MD, as the new Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. Chen comes to Duke from Emory University where he has served as the Section Head of Adult Cardiac Surgery and Director of Thoracic Aortic Surgery. His other roles at Emory have included Associate Program Director for the Thoracic Surgery Residency, Site Director for Resident Education at Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital and Executive Director of the Emory Healthcare Aortic Center Planning Steering Committee.

“We are excited to have Dr. Chen join us in this critically important role,” says Dr. Allan D. Kirk, David C. Sabiston, Jr. Distinguished Professor and Chair of Surgery, and Surgeon-in-Chief for the Duke University Health System. “Dr. Chen is a caring physician and superb technical surgeon who has always exhibited a personal dedication to his patients. He is revered as a teacher and mentor to a generation of surgical trainees. His work in complex cardiac and aortic reconstruction is unparalleled, and he has been deeply engaged in improving cardiac surgery through his participation in numerous landmark trials. He is an experienced leader who has successfully navigated important local, regional, and national administrative roles. Most importantly, he has exceptional maturity and has developed a reputation for respectful and thoughtful engagement in all of his interactions, truly living our institutional values of respect, teamwork, and ownership.”

Dr. Chen graduated from Stanford University in 1988 and received his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in 1992. He went on to complete his general surgery residency at the University of California, San Francisco in 2000, followed by his cardiothoracic surgery residency at Emory University in 2003. He finished a fellowship in Aortic Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 2003.

Dr. Chen is board certified in thoracic surgery and specializes in surgery of the thoracic aorta, including aortic root replacement, aortic aneurysms, high-risk cardiac surgery, minimally invasive valve surgery, and mitral valve repair. His research focuses on outcomes in cerebral protection for aortic arch surgery, aortic dissection, aortic valve surgery, and aortic root replacement. He has led multiple federally funded grants and prospective clinical trials for over 14 years.

Dr. Chen is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons as well as the American Heart Association and a member of the American College of Cardiology, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery among many other professional memberships.

Dr. Chen will take over the reins from Dr. Peter Smith who has served as Division Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery since 1994. Under Dr. Smith’s leadership, the division has become one of the most highly ranked cardiothoracic surgery programs in the country with world-renowned heart and lung transplantation and top-echelon adult and congenital heart surgery. The division’s thoracic surgery residencies and fellowships are some of the most highly reputable and competitive programs in the world.

As co-director of the Duke Heart Center, Dr. Smith has overseen the collaboration between Duke cardiac surgery, cardiology, and cardiac anesthesiology. He is a nationally recognized expert in bleeding and inflammatory complications, outcomes in cardiac surgery, and coronary artery disease. A national leader in cardiothoracic research, he has led the Cardiothoracic Surgery Clinical Trials Network and multiple clinical trials to improve outcomes in coronary artery bypass grafting and mitral valve surgery. Over the years, Dr. Smith has served as a mentor and educator to many leaders in thoracic surgery.

Dr. Manesh Patel, Co-director of the Duke Heart Center and Chief of the Division of Cardiology, welcomed the news saying, “We are excited to welcome Dr. Chen to the Heart Center as a partner and clearly a leader in the field of cardiothoracic surgery. His tremendous commitment to education and patient care will serve the division and Heart Center well for years to come. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the guiding light that Peter Smith has been for the Heart Center and Cardiothoracic Surgery. He has personally provided a role model and has been a North Star for how we accomplish all of our missions, something that we anticipate he will continue to provide in years to come.”  

“Dr. Smith is a giant in cardiac surgery who has guided the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery for its entire 25-year history,” says Dr. Kirk. “There is no person who is more dedicated to Duke Surgery, and it would be impossible to capture all he has done for our institution and for his field. Dr. Smith continues to be an internationally recognized and impressively productive authority in cardiac surgery. He serves as a Principal Investigator in the Cardiothoracic Surgery Clinical Trials Network. He has also developed exceptional understanding of the challenges facing healthcare more broadly, with dedicated national service as Chair of the American Medical Association’s Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee, the advisory body that establishes the value of essentially all physician services. He also has tirelessly served our veterans as a primary surgeon at the Durham VA Medical Center. I anticipate that this transition will afford Dr. Smith an opportunity to focus his deep and broad subject matter expertise on departmental and institutional challenges.”

“It will be a true privilege to serve this world-class division,” says Dr. Chen. “Duke is one of the most storied, accomplished, and visible programs in the entire global landscape of CT Surgery. I am absolutely thrilled to be returning to Durham where I began my medical career over 30 years ago. It was during that time where I first learned to embrace the tripartite academic mission and understood its vital importance to the overall advancement of healthcare. Those early lessons have ultimately served as fundamental core values and guiding principles for me throughout my entire career. I am fully aware of the magnitude and importance of this position and want to thank Dr. Kirk for the confidence he has shown in selecting me for this critically important role. I also want to acknowledge the tremendous service and leadership that Dr. Smith has given to Duke during his highly distinguished and accomplished career. It is my full intent to build upon these accomplishments and to keep Duke at the forefront for all the missions of quality, innovation, discovery, and education in CT surgery. I am extremely energized by the opportunity to serve the Division of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, its highly accomplished faculty members, support staff, the Department of Surgery, and Duke University Medical Center as a whole. I look forward to working collaboratively and collegially with all the institutional stakeholders who are dedicated to the cardiovascular and thoracic service lines to further advance our models of care delivery and quality. I very much look forward to being part of the Duke Team.”

We look forward to welcoming Dr. Chen to the Section of Surgical Disciplines in January 2021, and we express our sincerest gratitude to Dr. Smith for his steadfast dedication and invaluable leadership over the past 25 years.