David H. Adams, MD, the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Professor and Chairman of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, announced today that Joanna Chikwe, MD, has been appointed Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Associate Program Director of the residency program in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. She is also Mount Sinai’s first female cardiac surgeon. “Dr. Chikwe is an outstanding surgeon and educator. I feel very fortunate to have her as a member of our faculty,” noted Dr. Adams.
Dr. Chikwe decided she wanted to be a cardiac surgeon when she was in junior high school. “I saw a documentary on the pioneering work of cardiac surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub,” she said. “There was never any doubt in my mind that this was what I wanted to do.”
“It’s very rewarding working in a specialty where—almost every day—you help someone live longer and feel better,” said Dr. Chikwe, who joined Mount Sinai earlier this year. “Thanks to the great team at Mount Sinai, after a few hours in the operating room and a few days in the Hospital, patients get to go home with a new lease on life.”
Originally from England, Dr. Chikwe trained at Oxford University and completed her residency at the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals in London. Afterward, she completed a two-year advanced reconstructive valve fellowship at Mount Sinai with Dr. Adams.
Prior to coming to Mount Sinai, Dr. Chikwe’s training also included two years of off-pump, robotic, and video-assisted surgery in London. Most recently she spent time at the Heart Centre in Leipzig, Germany, where she trained under Friedrich Mohr, MD, PhD—a physician who pioneered minimally invasive mitral valve repair and transcatheter aortic valve implantation.
Dr. Chikwe returned to Mount Sinai because of its wealth of expertise in innovative cardiac surgical techniques. “You can draw from international experts at every level here,” she said. “The depth of expertise here in cardiac surgery and cardiology is just unparalleled. I try to combine the UK emphasis on strong clinical skills with the US emphasis on state-of-the-art investigation and treatment.” Her main interests are valve reconstruction and coronary surgery. She is also involved in advancing the Department’s efforts toward applying less-invasive incisions and off-pump techniques when performing cardiac surgery. In addition to joining Dr. Adams’s mitral valve team, Dr. Chikwe will also work with the faculty on groundbreaking advancements that will pave the way for simpler, less-traumatic valve replacement procedures, including using catheter-based approaches without conventional surgical incisions.
The author of several surgical textbooks, she has published extensively on outcomes after cardiac surgery and speaks regularly at major international meetings. As Associate Program Director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency Program at Mount Sinai, one of her roles is converting the program to a new innovative and integrated six-year model with training beginning immediately after medical school.
“Being at Mount Sinai has opened so many doors for me,” she said. “In turn, I’d like to open our doors to the outstanding medical students here. We are the first choice for physicians and patients right now—this will make us first choice for training in cardiothoracic surgery too.”