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School of Medicine


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  • Leah Backhus

    Leah Backhus

    Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Thoracic Surgery)

    Bio Leah Backhus trained in general surgery at the University of Southern California and cardiothoracic surgery at the University of California Los Angeles. She practices at Stanford Hospital and is Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the VA Palo Alto. Her surgical practice consists of general thoracic surgery with special emphasis on thoracic oncology and minimally invasive surgical techniques. She is also Co-Director of the Thoracic Surgery Clinical Research Program, and has grant funding through the Veterans Affairs Administration and NIH. Her current research interests are in imaging surveillance following treatment for lung cancer and cancer survivorship. She is a member of the National Lung Cancer Roundtable of the American Cancer Society serving as Chair of the Task Group on Lung Cancer in Women. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. As an educator, Dr. Backhus is the Associate Program Director for the Thoracic Track Residency and is the Chair of the ACGME Residency Review Committee for Thoracic Surgery which is the accrediting body for all cardiothoracic surgery training programs in the US.

  • Edward Bender

    Edward Bender

    Clinical Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Bio Dr. Edward Bender specializes in the treatment of adult cardiac abnormalities, including ischemic heart disease, structural and valvular disease, and arrhythmias. Additionally, he has an interest and expertise in General Thoracic and Vascular surgery. Dr. Bender currently works with organizations within the medical community to develop software to aid in the teaching and practice of medicine.

  • Mark Berry, MD

    Mark Berry, MD

    Mylavarapu Rogers Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Bio Dr. Berry joined the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Stanford in August 2014. He came to Stanford from Duke University, where he had most recently served as Associate Professor. He received his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine after receiving bachelors and masters degrees in Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his residency in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Duke University Medical Center after performing a residency in General Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. His Cardiothoracic Surgical training included a year dedicated to Minimally Invasive General Thoracic Surgery, a period that also included an American Association for Thoracic Surgery sponsored Traveling Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.

    Dr. Berry practices all aspects of thoracic surgery, including procedures for benign and malignant conditions of the lung, esophagus, and mediastinum. He has a particular interest in minimally invasive techniques, and has extensive experience in treating thoracic surgical conditions using video-assisted thoracoscopic surgical (VATS), laparoscopic, robotic, endoscopic, and bronchoscopic approaches. He serves as the co-Director of the Stanford Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Center (SMITS), and has both directed and taught in several minimally invasive thoracic surgery courses.

    Dr. Berry also has a Masters of Health Sciences in Clinical Research from Duke University. His clinical research activities mirror his clinical interests and activities in optimizing short-term and long-term outcomes of patients with thoracic surgical conditions. He has more than sixty peer-reviewed publications, most of which are related to both the use of minimally invasive thoracic surgical techniques as well as evaluating outcomes after treatment of thoracic malignancies. His clinical practice and his research both focus on choosing the most appropriate treatment and approach for patients based on the individual characteristics of the patient and their disease process.

  • Thomas Burdon

    Thomas Burdon

    Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Adult Cardiac Surgery)

    Current Research and Scholarly Interests New technologies in the area of catheters, clamps, and, visualization devices for aid in cardiac surgery; distribution of, cardioplegia, both anterograde and retrograde as determined by, techniques in technetium pyro-phosphate scans; glucose insulin, potassium as an adjunct in cardiac surgery.

  • Elan Chanel Burton, MD, MHA

    Elan Chanel Burton, MD, MHA

    Clinical Assistant Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Bio Dr. Burton is a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon. She is also a clinical assistant professor in the Stanford University School of Medicine Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

    She offers her patients exceptional expertise in advanced cardiothoracic surgical techniques. For each patient, she develops a customized, comprehensive, and compassionate care plan.

    In addition to her clinical practice, Dr. Burton has conducted research on health disparities in cardiovascular disease, diversity in radiology and molecular imaging, and other topics. She is the consultant on an innovation research grant from the National Science Foundation for her work on an app for emotional support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Dr. Burton has made presentations to her peers as a guest lecturer on subjects including coronary artery disease, primary cardiac tumors, and minimally invasive cardiac surgery. In addition, she has made presentations to the American Heart Association, International Conference on Clinical Ethics and Consultation, and other organizations.

    Dr. Burton has published articles on advanced surgical techniques as well as issues such as balancing work and family during the COVID-19 pandemic plus health disparities and social determinants of health. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Cardiac Surgery, JTCVS Techniques, International Social Work, and elsewhere.

    Dr. Burton has earned honors including the Coleman Connolly Award in Thoracic Surgery, which recognizes the exemplary efforts of thoracic surgery residents. She also won the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons Resident Achievement Award and the Dr. Albert G. Marrangoni Research Award.

    She is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, American College of Cardiology, American College of Physicians?American Society of Internal Medicine, Lillehei Surgical Society, Women in Thoracic Surgery, Western Thoracic Surgical Association, American Society of Professionals in Patient Safety, Women Health Care Executives, Association of Women Surgeons, Society of Black Academic Surgeons, and American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management.

    She has volunteered her time and expertise as a high school medical club faculty mentor, as an elementary school community health nutrition interventionist, and with the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society.

  • Maria Elizabeth Currie, MD, PhD

    Maria Elizabeth Currie, MD, PhD

    Clinical Assistant Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Bio Dr. Currie is a board-certified, fellowship-trained cardiothoracic surgeon. She is also a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. With subspecialty training in heart failure, Dr. Currie treats all forms of cardiomyopathy, ischemic heart disease, and valvular heart disease. She performs heart transplant, lung transplant, and combined heart-lung transplant procedures as part of a multidisciplinary team. She excels at valve surgery and the implantation of mechanical circulatory support systems.

    Dr. Currie welcomes referrals from cardiologists and primary care physicians as early as possible when cardiovascular disease is suspected. Understanding that early intervention can prevent later complications, she invites communication about screening, diagnostics, and treatment strategies.

    For each patient, Dr. Currie?s goal is to achieve the best possible outcome using the most advanced minimally invasive cardiac care techniques and technology available. Combined with technical expertise and a focus on excellent clinical outcomes, Dr. Currie delivers empathetic, thoughtful patient care. She ensures that patients are well informed about what they can expect both before and after their surgical procedure.

    Dr. Currie is passionate about improving the safety of cardiac surgery. Her research includes translational studies on new ways to visualize anatomic structures that are difficult to see during minimally invasive surgery. One published study investigated the use of augmented reality (AR) guided by transesophageal echocardiography in minimally invasive mitral valve repair. Her work has appeared in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, The International Journal of Medical Robotics and Computer Assisted Surgery, Transplant Immunology, and other peer reviewed publications.

    Dr. Currie?s interest in technological advances is rooted in her commitment to the evolution of technology and technique in the fast-changing, relatively young field of cardiac surgery. Also driving her interest is her PhD background in biomedical engineering. She has made presentations on the use of AR systems, 3D visualization technology, and robotics-assisted surgical procedures at the American Association for Thoracic Surgery Annual Meeting, International Society for Minimally Invasive Surgery Annual Scientific Meeting, and other conferences.

    Dr. Currie has won numerous awards for her research achievements and scholarship. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada. She is also a member of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation, the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery, Women in Thoracic Surgery, and the Association of Women Surgeons. With its long legacy of leadership in cardiac surgery and research, Dr. Currie feels Stanford Health Care enables her to pursue her research interests and offers her patients access to the latest innovations, along with expertise across specialties including engineering and statistics.

  • James Fann

    James Fann

    Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Adult Cardiac Surgery) at the Stanford University Medical Center, Emeritus

    Current Research and Scholarly Interests Cardiac surgery education and simulation-based learning, coronary artery bypass surgery, cardiac valve disease

  • Michael Fischbein

    Michael Fischbein

    Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Adult Cardiac Surgery)

    Current Research and Scholarly Interests Molecular and genetic mechanisms of aortic aneurysm/dissection development. Molecular mechanisms of aneurysm formation in Marfan Syndrome. Clinical research interests include thoracic aortic diseases (aneurysms, dissections).

  • Rabin Gerrah

    Rabin Gerrah

    Clinical Assistant Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Bio Dr. Rabin Gerrah is a cardiothoracic surgeon and specializes in surgical treatment of heart diseases such as ischemic, valvular, structural and congenital heart diseases. He has been trained at Harvard University and Columbia University Hospitals. Dr. Gerrah has been involved in multiple medical research projects and has patented and developed innovative surgical devices and technologies.

  • Frank Hanley

    Frank Hanley

    Lawrence Crowley, M.D., Endowed Professor of Child Health

    Current Research and Scholarly Interests His research and clinical work focuses on the development of interventional techniques for fetal and neonatal treatment of congenital heart disease, pulmonary, vascular physiology, and the neurologic impact of open-heart surgery. He developed and pioneered the “unifocalization” procedure, in which a single procedure is used to repair a complex and life-threatening congenital heart defect rather than several staged open-heart surgeries as performed by other surgeons.

  • William Hiesinger, MD

    William Hiesinger, MD

    Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Adult Cardiac Surgery)

    Bio Dr. Hiesinger is a board-certified, fellowship-trained specialist in adult cardiac surgery. He is also an assistant professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine.

    Dr. Hiesinger?s clinical focus encompasses the full spectrum of cardiothoracic conditions and treatment approaches, such as heart transplantation, lung transplantation, mitral and aortic valve repair, cardiomyopathy surgical treatment, and coronary artery bypass procedures. He serves as Surgical Director of the Stanford Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, where he leads and directs the surgical implantation of ventricular assist devices (VADs) in patients with end-stage heart failure.

    The National Institutes of Health and the Thoracic Surgery Foundation have awarded funds to support Dr. Hiesinger?s research. In the Stanford Cardiothoracic Therapeutics and Surgery Laboratory, he investigates innovations such as bioengineered devices, tissue engineering, and angiogenic cytokine therapy for the treatment of ischemic heart failure.

    He has published extensively on new techniques in ventricular assist device implantation, advances in life support for cardiac failure, cell transplantation in heart failure, and many other topics. His work has appeared in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Journal of Vascular Surgery, Journal of Cardiac Failure, Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine, and elsewhere. In addition, Dr. Hiesinger is a reviewer for the publication Circulation.

    He teaches courses on cardiothoracic surgery skills. He also advises surgeons of the future.

    Dr. Hiesinger has won awards for his research and scholarship, including the Surgical Resident of the Year Award, Jonathan E. Rhoads Research Award, Clyde F. Baker Research Prize, and I.S. Ravdin Prize, all from his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. He was a finalist for the Vivien Thomas Young Investigator Award from the American Heart Association.

    Dr. Hiesinger is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and serves on the Workforce on Surgical Treatment of End-Stage Cardiopulmonary Disease national committee. He is also a member of the American Heart Association Council for Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery.

  • Ngan F. Huang

    Ngan F. Huang

    Assistant Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Surgery Research) and, by courtesy, of Chemical Engineering

    Current Research and Scholarly Interests Dr. Huang's laboratory aims to understand the chemical and mechanical interactions between extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins and pluripotent stem cells that regulate vascular and myogenic differentiation. The fundamental insights of cell-matrix interactions are applied towards stem cell-based therapies with respect to improving cell survival and regenerative capacity, as well as engineered vascularized tissues for therapeutic transplantation.

  • Ioannis Karakikes

    Ioannis Karakikes

    Assistant Professor (Research) of Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Current Research and Scholarly Interests The Karakikes Lab aims to uncover fundamental new insights into the molecular mechanisms and functional consequences of pathogenic mutations associated with familial cardiovascular diseases.

  • Saverio La Francesca

    Saverio La Francesca

    Clinical Assistant Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Bio Clinical Focus
    -Heart Transplantation.
    -Lung Transplantation
    -Organ Perfusion and Preservation.
    -Regenerative Medicine

    Academic Appointments
    -Clinical Assistant Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery. Current
    -Asst. Professor of Surgery. Ohio State University. Wexner Medical Center. Columbus-Ohio. 2019 ? 2020
    -Staff - Department of Cardiovascular Surgery DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center. Houston, Texas. 2010-2013
    -Attending Surgeon - Department of Cardiopulmonary Transplantation. Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke?s Episcopal Hospital. Houston, Texas. 2018- 2010

    Industry Experience
    -President and Chief Medical Officer, Mar 2017 to Oct 2017 Biostage, Inc. (NASDAQ: BSTG)
    -Executive Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer, Aug 2015 to Mar 2017 Biostage, Inc. (NASDAQ: BSTG)
    -Chief Medical Officer, Apr 2014 to Jul 2015 Biostage, Inc. (NASDAQ: BSTG) (formerly Harvard Apparatus Regenerative Technology,

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