CREF Speakers

The 2019 CREF speakers include 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 39th Annual 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). View the CREF program or detailed conference brochure for more information about our CREF faculty. 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 has practiced law for 15+ years in the healthcare arena. His clientele have included healthcare professionals, practice groups, entrepreneurs, suppliers, and pharmaceutical companies. Arrowood focuses not on malpractice but on the business and personal legal issues that can lead to business or malpractice lawsuits. He has lectured at UCLA Medical School, teaches Continuing Legal Education for the Arizona State Bar, serves as a legal analyst on TV, and has been featured in many newspapers. Arrowood  represents HCPs in contract negotiations, practice start-up/business, pre-litigation, and litigation matters.

CREF Speaker Keynote Rob Baker PhD


Robert A. Baker PhD CCP(Aus)

Professor Baker is Director of Cardiac Surgery Research & Perfusion at Flinders Medical Centre in South Australia. His research interests include blood management, practice improvement, data management, guidelines, neurocognitive effects of cardiac surgery, pharmacological interventions, postoperative outcomes, and quality-of-life outcomes. Professor Baker works locally, nationally, and internationally to achieve better outcomes for patients undergoing cardiac surgery.



Michael S. Firstenberg MD FACC

Dr. Michael S. Firstenberg serves as Chair of Cardiothoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at the Medical Center of Aurora, Colorado. He also holds faculty appointments in the College of Graduate Studies and Departments of Surgery and Integrative Medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University and is active in medical/surgical educational initiatives. Dr. Firstenberg has authored numerous book chapters and over 150 peer-reviewed manuscripts. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the online journal Mechanical Circulatory Support.

CREF speakers faculty Gray-Meissner San Diego perfusion meeting cardiac surgery conference California October


Kelli Gray-Meisner RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Kelli Gray-Meisner RDN has worked in the San Diego area for 14 years, currently with the Centers for Integrative Health at UCSD. With her patients, she focuses on whole-foods-based nutrition assessment and education, meeting her patients' unique needs and assisting them achieve their health goals. Ms. Gray-Meissner's primary interests include integrative and functional medicine and promoting personalized nutrition as a foundation for overall health. Her specific area of interest is the digestive system, and she enjoys the complexity of the patients with whom she meets.

CREF speakers Hilary Grocott keynote speaker cardiac surgery perfusion meeting


Hilary P. Grocott MD FRCP(c) FASE

Dr. Hilary P. Grocott is Professor in the Departments of both Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine and Surgery at University of Manitoba. He concurrently serves as Adjunct Professor of Anesthesiology at Duke University. Dr. Grocott's primary research interest has focused on the impact of cardiopulmonary bypass on the brain. As Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia, Dr. Grocott oversees the annual peer review of more than 750 manuscripts in anesthesia, critical care, and pain medicine.

CREF Speakers Gudzenko


Vadim Gudzenko MD

Dr. Vadim Gudzenko graduated from Odessa Medical Univesity in the Ukraine. Upon receiving his MD degree, he completed an anesthesiology residency at UCLA Medical Center and critical care fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. At present he is practicing anesthesiology and critical care at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. He serves as medical director of the adult ECMO program and director of the anesthesiology critical care fellowship.

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.

CREF Speakers Helmick Bronson


Shahna L. Helmick CCP

Shahna Helmick has been a Certified Clinical Perfusionist for 18 years, earning her Certificate of Perfusion from The Cleveland Clinic in 2001. Mrs. Helmick has been an executive member of The International Consortium for Evidence-Based Perfusion (ICEBP) for 7 years & an American Society of Extracorporeal Technology (AmSECT) member since 2012. Mrs. Helmick has a keen interest in the role of professional societies in improving the quality and safety of care; she has authored or co-authored manuscripts, has a standing column in AmSECT Today, and presents widely on this topic at state and national conferences.



Ashley B. Hodge MBA CCP FPP

Perfusionist Ashley Hodge is the Associate Chief of Perfusion Services and Cardiothoracic Surgery Quality and Safety Officer at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Ashley has been a Pediatric Perfusionist for 12 years and is passionate about quality improvement science and leadership. She has authored over 25 manuscripts, serves on multiple national committees, and speaks internationally on perfusion topics. Ashley’s research interests include ECMO, pediatric perfusion, ventricular-assist devices, anticoagulation management for bypass and extracorporeal devices, quality improvement, leadership, and management. 

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Tiffany Holt MS RD

Tiffany Holt is an integrative registered dietitian nutritionist and research dietitian with the Center for Integrative Nutrition at UC San Diego Health. Her advanced nutrition experiences include training from the Institute of Functional Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as working with UCSD Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research, Rip Esselstyn Immersion Training and Research program, and the Bastyr Center for Natural Health. Tiffany also serves as President-Elect with the San Diego chapter of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND).

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.

Sellke Frank CREF perfusion meeting San Diego California


Frank W. Sellke MD FACS FAHA

Dr. Frank Sellke is the chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital, and is Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Brown University. His research interests include the regulation of microcirculation in health and disease, ischemic injury and inflammation during cardiac surgery, collateral vascular formation, and the use of growth factors and cell therapy to increase blood flow to ischemic tissue.

Shinar CREF conference San Diego California ECMO perfusion meeting


Zachary M. Shinar MD

Dr. Zack Shinar works at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California, as a board-certified emergency physician. He is also part-time faculty for UC San Diego's Emergency Medicine Residency. He graduated as chief resident from Los Angeles County/USC Emergency Medicine Program and studied bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania as an undergraduate. His area of research is advanced resuscitative techniques such as ECMO and LVAD.

CREF speakers faculty keynote shore-lesserson perfusion meeting cardiac surgery anesthesiology conference san diego california


Linda Shore-Lesserson MD

Dr. Linda Shore-Lesserson, Past-President of the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, serves as Director of CV Anesthesiology, Vice Chair for Academic Affairs, and Professor of Anesthesiology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra Northwell in Manhasset, New York. Dr. Shore-Lesserson's research interests include hemostasis and thrombosis as they relate to cardiovascular disease. She recently served as the lead author on an innovative joint STS / SCA / AmSECT study providing clinical practice guidelines on anticoagulation best practices for cardiopulmonary bypass surgery.

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 speakers Whitehead cardiac surgery perfusion ECMO


E. Daniel Whitehead MHS CCP

Daniel Whitehead is a staff perfusionist for Comprehensive Care Services and serves as the ECMO Director for the city of Birmingham, Alabama. He received his undergraduate degree in molecular biology from the University of Alabama in 2009 and his Masters in Cardiac Perfusion and Cardiopulmonary Physiology from Quinnipiac University in 2012. Daniel’s main clinical focus areas include Adult/Pediatric ECMO as well as fixed-wing ECMO transport. He presents widely on this topic at both state and national conferences.