Lars G. Svensson, MD, PhD, Assumes Presidency of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery

Lars G. Svensson, MD, PhD, became the 104th President of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS). He officially succeeded Yolonda L. Colson, MD, PhD, in a presentation during the AATS 103rd Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

Dr. Svensson obtained his medical degree in 1978, an MSc in 1983, and a PhD in 1986 from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. His cardiology, general, and vascular surgery training was at Johannesburg Hospital, followed by cardiovascular surgery training at Cleveland Clinic and Baylor College of Medicine, including a cardiothoracic surgery residency. He was Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center and worked with Drs. DeBakey and Crawford at Baylor College of Medicine, where he was also Assistant Professor of Surgery. Following this academic appointment, he was then Clinical Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Tufts University, and Instructor at Harvard Medical School while working at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Boston. He was named in 2005 the King James IV Professor of Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He returned to Cleveland Clinic in 2001. 

Dr. Svensson is currently the Chairman of the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic. He is also the Director of the Marfan Syndrome and Connective Tissue Disorder Clinic. He previously served on the AATS Board of Directors and Chaired the AATS Guidelines Committee. He is on the editorial board for the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (JTCVS), Annals of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, and AORTA. He is also the Co-Chair of the Artivion PROACT Xa Steering Committee and a past Executive Board member of the PARTNER TAVR trial and Publication Committee. 

Dr. Svensson’s research focuses on aortic valve surgery, surgery for thoracic aortic aneurysms, minimally invasive valve surgery, and percutaneous valve treatment. He has over 600 peer-reviewed medical publications, including numerous books and book chapters. He also has multiple patents and 19 inventions. Through research and practice, Dr. Svensson has contributed to advances in protecting the brain, spinal cord, and kidneys during major cardiac and aortic surgery, and has been instrumental in developing minimally invasive keyhole surgical techniques. His operative and clinical research interests are particularly in aortic root and valve repair, and he has done over 500 modified valve reimplantation operations. He also runs a leadership course for physicians and surgeons.

“My presidential focus will be on scholarship, legerdemain surgery and innovative procedures, advanced leadership, complex valve scenarios.” Dr. Svensson said about his presidential priorities. “Our field is rapidly changing, and change is inevitable but with that comes great opportunity and greater dissemination of knowledge. How will AATS stay at the forefront of these changes? We will continue to encourage the greatest papers on changes in patient management, not only traditional surgical papers, but also the new frontiers of patient care such as structural heart disease for our scholarly journals. I also look forward to working with the large number of dedicated surgeon volunteers who spend their valuable time advancing the AATS mission, our specialty, and care of our patients. Their work is very much appreciated by those in the specialty and even more so by the endless thousands of patients who benefit from your volunteering. You are unsung heroes to patients, but we recognize your efforts.”

Joining him in a new position on the Executive Committee is David R. Jones, MD, who is now President-Elect, and in line to become the Association’s 105th President.

Dr. Jones is Professor and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Executive Vice-Chair for the Department of Surgery. He is also the Co-Director of the Fiona and Stanly Druckenmiller Center for Lung Cancer Research. He is recent past Chair of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Cancer Institute (NCI) Tumor Progression and Metastasis (TPM) study section and is past president of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association. He previously severed five years as Secretary of the AATS, Co-Chair of the AATS Publications Committee, and Associate Editor for JTCVS. He also serves as Chair of the AATS Thoracic Surgery Oncology Group for clinical trials.

Dr. Jones’s research focuses on mechanisms and drivers of metastases in lung cancer. His research has been funded by the NIH/NCI, Department of Defense, and the AACR. He has been the Principal Investigator or Co-PI on more than 35 funded grants and currently holds two R01 awards from the NCI. He has published more than 400 papers and has written more than 35 book chapters. He was an early adopter of VATS anatomic resections and minimally invasive esophagectomies and performs most of his operations using these approaches.

Emile A. Bacha, MD, was elected Vice-President, and in line to become the Association’s 106th President.

Dr. Bacha is currently the Chief of the Division of Cardiac, Thoracic, and Vascular Surgery at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, and Director of Congenital Heart Surgery at New York- Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and Komansky-Weill-Cornell Children’s.  

Dr. Bacha is one of the early developers of the “hybrid stage” procedure for hypoplastic left heart syndrome and is a recognized expert in all aspects of pediatric cardiac surgery. He is also the principal developer of a widely accepted technical competency metric for pediatric heart surgeons. 

Dr. Bacha has published more than 350 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is a past-Associate Editor of JTCVS, a former Director on the AATS Board of Directors, and recently concluded a four-year term as Treasurer of the AATS and AATS Foundation.

Rosemary F. Kelly, MD, was re-appointed to her current role as AATS Secretary for an additional term. Dr. Kelly is the C. Walton and Richard C. Lillehei Professor and Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Minnesota. In addition to being Division Chief, she is Program Director of the Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery Fellowship Program at the University of Minnesota. She is Vice-Chair of Clinical Faculty Development for the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota and Chief of the Heart and Vascular Service Line for M Health Fairview. Her research interests have been supported by Merit Review and institutional grants for more than 20 years and involves regenerative therapies to improve myocardial recovery at the time of revascularization.

Leonard N. Girardi, MD, has been named Treasurer following a year as Treasurer-Elect succeeding Dr. Bacha’s four-year term. Dr. Girardi is the Chairman and O. Wayne Isom Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Weill Cornell Medical College. He is also the Cardiothoracic Surgeon-in-Chief at the New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. He has published and lectured extensively in multiple areas of cardiac and thoracic surgery, particularly in the area of surgery on the thoracic aorta. Despite his academic and administrative commitments, he continues to remain one of the highest volume cardiac surgeons in the state of New York and has been recognized for consistently producing some of the best results in the New York State Department of Health Cardiac Surgery Database. 

Dr. Girardi has led numerous committees for the Association including the Membership Committee and continues his role as the Association’s Board liaison on the AATS Cardiac Clinical Practice Standards Committee.

Daniela Molena, MD, was named as a Director of the Board. Dr Molena serves as the Director of the Esophageal Program within the Thoracic Surgery Division at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is involved in numerous national and international organizations related to esophageal diseases and serves as the President of Women in Thoracic Surgery. She is an Associate Editor for Disease of the Esophagus and an Editorial Board Member of JTCVS. 

Her research focuses on identifying and measuring quality indicators to improve clinical and functional outcomes after surgery, designing clinical pathways to decrease costs and improve results, and identifying racial and socioeconomic disparities that limit the access to excellent care. 

Kazuhiro Yasufuku, MD, was named as a Director of the Board. Dr. Yasufuku is the Head of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network. He is also Professor and Chair of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Toronto. He holds the RFG Pearson – RJ Ginsberg Chair in Thoracic Surgery and William Coco Chair in Surgical Innovation for Lung Cancer. He serves as Director of Endoscopy and Director of the Interventional Thoracic Surgery Program at the University Health Network. He also leads the Thoracic Robotic Surgery Program and GTx Program at the University Health Network.

Dr. Yasufuku has been a leader in the field of minimally invasive diagnostics and therapeutics for thoracic malignancy. He co-developed the Convex Probe Endobronchial Ultrasound in collaboration with Olympus and has successfully introduced the clinical application of EBUS-TBNA in Thoracic Oncology. His clinical interests include minimally invasive diagnostic and surgery for thoracic oncology and lung transplantation. 

“AATS surgeon leaders represent the best of the specialty. Their devotion to patient care is matched only by their devotion to this vital mission to promote scholarship, innovation, and leadership for cardiovascular and thoracic surgery,” commented AATS Chief Executive Officer, David R. Bobbitt, in announcing these appointments. “Drs. Svensson, Jones, Bacha, Kelly, and Girardi along with Drs. Molena and Yasufuku are true surgeon scientists.  With our returning Directors, I cannot imagine a more impactful team for the AATS or the specialty.”


The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) is an international organization that encourages, promotes, and stimulates the scientific investigation of cardiothoracic surgery. Founded in 1917 by a respected group of the earliest pioneers in the field, its original mission was to “foster the evolution of an interest in surgery of the Thorax.” Today, the AATS is the premiere association for cardiothoracic surgeons in the world and works to continually enhance the ability of cardiothoracic surgeons to provide the highest quality of patient care. Its more than 1,500 members have a proven record of distinction within the specialty and have made significant contributions to the care and treatment of cardiothoracic disease. Visit to learn more.

withyou android app