CREF Speakers

The 2021 CREF speakers included experts in the field of cardiothoracic surgery, cardiovascular anesthesia, extracorporeal perfusion, health service research and quality, critical care, and more. View the brief biographies of this year's confirmed CREF faculty below. 

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Symposium is dedicated to providing quality continuing medical education for the entire cardiac OR team. Recurring topics include the science and techniques of cardiopulmonary bypass, cardiac surgery, and extracorporeal life support (ECLS/ECMO). For regular updates about CREF speakers, faculty, abstract presenters, and more, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

Speakers & Faculty

CREF speakers faculty Arrowood lawyer attorney San Diego California perfusion meeting cardiac surgery conference CME CEU


James M. Arrowood Esq.

James Arrowood is an attorney admitted in California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., and he has practiced for more than 15 years in the healthcare arena. His clientele have included a wide variety of healthcare professionals, practice groups, entrepreneurs, and suppliers, including pharmaceutical companies, as well as some of the preeminent practitioners in their medical fields. James focuses on the business and personal legal issues facing healthcare professionals, not on malpractice. Rather, James works to eliminate some of the issues that lead to business or malpractice lawsuits. He has lectured at UCLA Medical School, teaches Continuing Legal Education for the Arizona State Bar, and been feature in a number of newspapers and as a legal analyst on TV.



Joanna Chikwe MD FRCS

Jo Chikwe is the George Schaefer Distinguished Professor of Surgery and founding Chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at the Smidt Heart Institute, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Her research interests include using big data to address questions unanswered by clinical trials, and she has authored 100+  publications in peer reviewed journals including NEJM and JAMA. She serves on the editorial boards of JACC and JTCVS and is Deputy Editor of Annals of Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Chikwe specializes in advanced and less invasive heart valve repair, and previously served as the Cheng Endowed Professor of Surgery at the State University of New York, and professor of cardiovascular surgery at Mount Sinai New York.

CREF speaker Karen Dobkins Sunday faculty San Diego perfusion meeting


Karen R. Dobkins PhD

Dr. Karen Dobkins received her PhD in Neurosciences and is now a professor in the Psychology Department at UC San Diego. Although her main area of research study has been infant and child development (including children with Autism), her most recent research passion is in the area of mindfulness and mental well-being. Outside the world of research, she enjoys blending Mindfulness with her expertise in Psychology/Neuroscience to create workshops and environments aimed at improving well-being. In addition to teaching an exercise class called “IntenSati” that blends high-intensity aerobics with call-and-response positive affirmations, she loves to give inspirational talks, including two recent Tedx talks “The Space between Kansas and Oz” and “If Passion Weren’t Scary It Wouldn’t Be Passion."

CREF faculty speaker Dominic Emerson MD Cedars-Sinai California


Dominic A. Emerson MD FACS

Dr. Dominic Emerson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Smidt Heart Institute. He also serves in the following positions: Associate Program Director, Thoracic Surgery ACGME Fellowship Program; Associate Surgical Director, Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support; and Surgical Co-Director, Cardiac Surgery Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Emerson completed medical school at the University of Washington, general surgery residency at the Georgetown University Hospital, and fellowships in both Cardiothoracic Surgery and Heart Transplant/Mechanical Circulatory Support at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.



David Fitzgerald MPH CCP

Perfusionist David Fitzgerald serves as a Staff Perfusionist, Clinical Coordinator, and Assistant Director of the Cardiovascular Perfusion Program at the Medical University of South Carolina. As an instructor in the perfusion training program, Mr. Fitzgerald coordinates clinical rotations and oversees the hi-fidelity perfusion simulation program. Past President of AmSECT, David Fitzgerald remains actively involved in research, with key interests including transfusion, inflammatory response, and patient safety.

CREF Keynote speaker Rebecca Gottesman 2021 Faculty San Diego Conference


Rebecca F. Gottesman MD PhD

Dr. Rebecca Gottesman joined the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) as the Chief of the Stroke Branch in May 2021. In addition to the Branch, she is also Chief of the Stroke, Cognition, and Neuroepidemiology Section. Prior to NINDS, Dr. Gottesman was an investigator at The Johns Hopkins University, where she made significant research contributions to understanding the cognitive impacts of stroke and other vascular disease, as well as short- and long-term associations between vascular risk factors, vascular disease, and dementias.

CREF Speaker Michael C. Grant MD Faculty 2020


Michael C. Grant MD

Dr. Michael Grant, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, works clinically as a dual fellowship-trained surgical critical care intensivist and cardiovascular anesthesiologist. He also serves as the Director for Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) for the ACCM Johns Hopkins Hospital and is actively engaged nationally through the ERAS Cardiac Society and is the inaugural chair of the ERACS Taskforce at the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists. Dr. Grant's research interests include quality improvement, implementation science, and the design and maintenance of complex perioperative programs.

CREF Speaker Serdar Gunaydin MD PhD


Serdar Gunaydin MD PhD

Dr. Serdar Gunaydin, a cardiac surgeon, serves as Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Numune Training and Research Hospital in Ankara, Turkey. Dr. Gunaydin’s research interests include the clinical evaluation and biomaterial confirmation of novel CPB-related technologies designed to prevent the inflammatory response. He is also on the Steering Committee for MiECTiS, an organization dedicated to promoting minimally invasive perfusion.

2018 CREF Speakers Robert Kramer MD


Robert S. Kramer MD FACS

Since 1980, cardiac surgeon Dr. Robert S. Kramer has served as a specialist in thoracic and cardiac surgery at the Maine Medical Center, where he actively participates in the Northern New England Cardiovascular Disease Study Group. At the Maine Medical Center, he currently serves as the Director of Research and Quality Improvement in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He is also a Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Kramer's research interests include coronary artery bypass grafting, acute kidney injury, hemodynamics, quality improvement, and more.
2019 CREF Speaker Keynote David Mazer MD


C. David Mazer MD FRCPC

CREF Co-Director Dr. Mazer is a Professor in the Departments of Anesthesia and Physiology at the University of Toronto. His research interests include cardiac physiology and perioperative blood conservation and organ protection. Dr. Mazer has co-authored 100+ peer-reviewed publications, including practice guidelines and position statements related to perioperative transfusion and hemostasis from the STS, SCVA, and the CCS. Dr. Mazer, a lead investigator in the BART trial, is the principal investigator for TRICS III, a global study of transfusion triggers in cardiac surgery.

CREF speakers faculty 2020 perfusion meeting cardiac surgery conference san diego california


Erick D. McNair PhD CCP FICA

Dr. Erick McNair is a faculty member of the Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Surgery in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan located in Saskatoon, SK, Canada. His background is in cardiac pathology and clinical perfusion. He is involved in inter-professional teaching, research, and administrative activities. His research interests include techniques in blood conservation following CPB and quantification of novel biochemical injury markers associated with acute kidney injury following CPB, PCI and neuroendovascular procedures.



Linda B. Mongero CCP (emeritus)

Prior to joining SpecialtyCare as VP of ECLS / ECMO, emeritus perfusionist Linda Mongero served as Director of Clinical Perfusion at the New York Presbyterian Hospital / Columbia University Medical Center. She also served as President of the ABCP and the AACP. Linda is a member of the AmSECT Quality Assurance Committee, Director for the Accreditation Committee Perfusion Education, and an advisor to the New York State Board of Health. She has presented more than 200 abstracts and articles in the literature. Clinical interests include ECMO, ventricular assist, and standardization of care.

CREF Keynote Speaker Jeff Riley 2020 California perfusion meeting san Diego


Jeffrey B. Riley MHPE CCP (emeritus) LP

Jeffrey Riley is a perfusionist, Research Associate Professor at SUNY, and science officer at Biomed Simulation, Inc. A leader in perfusion and ECMO education, Mr. Riley serves on the ELSO task force for simulation and the EMCO specialist certification exam. He served as AmSECT President-Elect (2012-2014) and President (2014-2016) and was named to its list of 36 Pioneers in Perfusion. Mr. Riley has authored and co-authored 100+ scientific publications, including award-winning presentations, manuscripts, and posters. His research interests include human factors in perfusion simulation and quality management, CPB gaseous microembolic load, and patient electronic data acquisition.

CREF Speakers Stammers


Alfred H. Stammers MSA PBMS CCP (emeritus)

CREF Co-Director Al Stammers serves as Vice President of Clinical Quality & Outcomes Research at SpecialtyCare, Inc. Al established and directed the Masters program in perfusion sciences at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he was an Associate Professor in the School of Allied Health Professions in the College of Medicine. Mr. Stammers has authored more than 300 publications on perfusion-related topics and is a world-renowned speaker in this area. His research interests include quality improvement, blood management, and outcomes analysis.

CREF speaker faculty Pamela Taub MD UC San Diego California


Pam R. Taub MD FACC

Dr. Pam Taub is a cardiologist and founding director of the Step Family Foundation Cardiac Rehabilitation and Wellness Center at Jacobs Medical Center. An associate professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Dr. Taub is active in clinical and translational research. She has received funding from the NIH, the U.S. DOD, and the AHA. Her research focuses on assessing the impact of behavioral, technological, and pharmacological interventions on cardiometabolic disease. Currently, she is investigating the impact of daily fasting in improving cardiometabolic parameters and on mitochondrial function; biomarkers for cardiovascular risk factor stratification; wearable / mobile devices in improving cardiovascular outcomes; and epicatechin (compound in dark chocolate) on mitochondrial function / cellular bioenergetics and exercise capacity.

CREF keynote speaker Paul Uhlig and faculty


Paul N. Uhlig MD MPA FACS

Dr. Paul Uhlig, a cardiothoracic surgeon, is associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita and medical director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas. He is internationally recognized for practice and study of high-reliability healthcare teamwork and patient/family-centered care. Dr. Uhlig’s professional interests concern transforming healthcare practice culture to better meet the evolving needs of patients and society. He has given invited addresses on healthcare teamwork and patient safety at major academic health centers and health systems across the US and internationally.

CREF Speakers - Wahr


Joyce A. Wahr MD FAHA

Dr. Joyce Wahr, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan, has served as director of the ICU rotation for residents, director of cardiac anesthesiology, and director of the cardiac research program. Dr. Wahr is the first author on the American Heart Association Scientific Statement “Patient Safety in the Cardiac Operating Room: Teamwork and Human Factors.”