Damiano named chief of cardiothoracic surgery

Ralph J. Damiano Jr., MD, an internationally known cardiac surgeon, has been named chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.


The new appointment is one of several to take effect May 1 in the cardiothoracic surgery division. With his appointment, Damiano becomes the Evarts Ambrose Graham Professor of Surgery. He succeeds G. Alexander Patterson, MD, who has served as chief of cardiothoracic surgery since 2005.

Patterson, who becomes the Joseph C. Bancroft Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, has stepped down as division chief to devote more time to editing The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, the journal of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons. He is editor-elect of the journal and will become editor-in-chief early next year.

Marc Moon, MD, succeeds Damiano as chief of the Section of Cardiac Surgery.

“We have tremendous depth and breadth in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery,” said Timothy J. Eberlein, MD, the Bixby Professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery, in announcing the new appointments. “Our cardiothoracic surgeons are national and international leaders in developing and refining innovative surgical procedures for the heart and for pulmonary diseases. We are grateful to Alec Patterson for his many years of dedicated service in leading the division to additional prominence and look forward to Ralph Damiano continuing the long tradition of leadership in the field.”

Damiano, Patterson and Moon see patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Damiano specializes in cardiac surgery, with an emphasis on coronary artery surgery, heart valve repair and replacement, minimally invasive surgery, surgery for atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat), and a procedure called septal myectomy, which treats a significant thickening of the heart that impedes blood flow.

Damiano has been a pioneer in the field of minimally invasive cardiac surgery and the use of robotic surgery to repair heart problems. He also has been a leader in developing a technique that allows surgeons to perform coronary bypass grafting without having to stop the heart and divert blood through a cardiopulmonary bypass machine.

His group also introduced less invasive surgical treatments, now used worldwide, to treat atrial fibrillation. In research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for more than 20 years, Damiano has led a substantial effort to investigate atrial fibrillation at Washington University, which has improved understanding of the condition and its treatment.


“It is a great honor to be chosen as the new chief of cardiothoracic surgery, and a real privilege to lead such a talented group of academic cardiothoracic surgeons,” Damiano said. “Under Dr. Patterson’s leadership, the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery has become one of the top academic groups in the world. I look forward to maintaining his legacy of excellence and continuing to grow and improve our efforts to provide world-class patient care while maintaining a strong commitment to research and teaching that hold the promise for future advances.”

Damiano is the editor of the journal Innovations: Technology and Techniques in Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery. He also is the past president of the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery, the Society of Clinical Surgery and the Cardiac Surgery Biology Club. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Heart Association and twice has served on NIH study sections.

Damiano received his medical degree from Duke University, where he also completed his general and cardiothoracic surgery residencies. He joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2000, after leading the cardiothoracic surgery team at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at Pennsylvania State University.

Patterson, an authority on lung transplantation, will continue to see patients. He also specializes in thoracic surgery, lung volume-reduction surgery for emphysema, and surgeries for lung cancer and esophageal cancer.

A native of Canada, Patterson earned his medical degree from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, where he also completed a surgery residency. He continued his training at the University of Toronto and Johns Hopkins University. After leading the lung transplant program at the University of Toronto, Patterson joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1991.

He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Chest Physicians. He also is a past president of the American Association of Thoracic Surgery and the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation and recently was honored by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons with the 2014 Earl Bakken Scientific Achievement Award for his scientific contributions to cardiothoracic surgery.


A noted cardiothoracic surgeon, Moon specializes in endocarditis, heart valve repair and replacement, coronary artery bypass surgery, and surgery to repair aortic aneurysm. He is co-principal investigator of a NIH grant to investigate surgical treatments for cardiac arrythmias. Moon also directs the cardiothoracic surgery residency program at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and is secretary of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.

Moon received his medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed a residency and fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Stanford University, respectively. He joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1998.

About Evarts A. Graham
Evarts Graham, MD, earned international acclaim as a thoracic surgeon, teacher and researcher during his 38-year career at the School of Medicine. He was chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1919 to 1951. Graham helped to develop the first X-ray imaging of the gallbladder to detect gallstones. He performed the first successful removal of a cancerous lung as a treatment for the disease. Concerned about the lack of certification standards for surgeons, Graham was instrumental in founding the American Board of Surgery. Later, in 1950, he and a colleague identified tobacco as a possible cause of lung cancer.

About Joseph C. Bancroft
A native of England, Joseph C. Bancroft was an inventor and visionary who held numerous patents. In 1920, he founded Croft Metals Inc., a Mississippi company that manufactured doors, windows and other construction products. Bancroft also served as an industrial adviser to Franklin Roosevelt when he was governor and, later, president. His generosity to the School of Medicine grew out of his gratitude to James L. Cox, MD, who performed his lifesaving heart surgery.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.