CREF Speakers

The 2022 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 Cardiothoracic Surgery Symposium is dedicated to providing quality continuing medical education for the entire cardiac OR and ICU teams. 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 De Somer


Filip De Somer PhD ECCP

Filip De Somer started his training in perfusion in Belgium in 1981. In 1988 he became chief perfusionist at the Free University of Brussels, and in 1989, he became chief perfusionist at the Ghent University Hospital, a position he still holds today. He is a European Board Certified Perfusionist (EBCP) and obtained a PhD in Medical Science at Groningen University, The Netherlands, in 2003. He has been a guest professor at Ghent University since 2008.

Dr. de Somer is member of the Institute of Biomedical Technology of Ghent University and has authored / co-authored numerous publications. He is involved in ongoing research in the domains of perfusion, tissue engineering, blood management and blood coagulation. He is part of the editorial board of several journals (JECT, Perfusion, ASAIO) and section editor for IJAO.

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


Kelli Gray-Meisner RDN IFMCP

Kelli has worked in healthcare in San Diego for 20 plus years, fundamentally viewing health through an integrative, functional, and intersectional perspective. Currently she has a small private practice and a temporary research position through UCSD, and she teaches in various settings. Her current focus is on her own recovery after a Traumatic Brain Injury in 2019 and is grateful to be getting back to working with others slowly but surely.

Kelli‘s professional focus is addressing the connection between ecological and personal health and how our systems’ biology are affected by the policies and practices of the institutional power structures present in our culture, communities, cities and countries. She enjoys helping people rediscover the health-oriented intelligence within themselves through making simple yet profound changes in their lifestyles and daily choices. She is also an herbal educator and can often be found in her kitchen cooking and creating herbal medicines for herself, family, friends, and clients. Her current growth edge is understanding more about the nervous system and how affects and relates with all the other systems in the body.

CREF speakers Bob Groom CCP


Robert C. Groom MS CCP

Perfusionist Bob Groom serves as 

Prior to that, Mr. Groom served as Director of Perfusion at Maine Medical Center.

He has authored numerous scientific papers related to cardiovascular perfusion and cardiac surgery and served on the editorial advisory board for the journal Perfusion and was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Extracorporeal Technology.

CREF Speakers Gudzenko


Vadim Gudzenko MD

Dr. Vadim Gudzenko graduated from Odesa Medical University in Ukraine. Upon receiving his MD, he completed an anesthesiology residency at UCLA Medical Center and a critical-care fellowship at Harvard Medical School / Massachusetts General Hospital.

Currently Dr. Gudzenko serves as associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. At present, he serves as medical director of the adult ECMO program as well as director of the anesthesiology critical care fellowship. His clinical and research interests are focused on ICU management and outcomes of cardiac surgical and ECMO patients.

CREF Speaker Serdar Gunaydin MD PhD


Serdar Gunaydin MD PhD

Dr Gunaydin currently serves as a faculty and clinical professor in the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery in Ankara City Hospital Campus, University of Health Sciences, Turkey. He is the Vice President for International Society of Minimally Invasive ECC (MiECTIS) and General Secretary of Turkish ERAS Society. He also works as the scientific board member in Giganode Foundation and Heart Team Education Association. He directs international scientific projects on clinical evaluation and biomaterial confirmation of novel cardiopulmonary bypass-related technologies based on the prevention of inflammatory response, patient blood management and ERAS.

CREF 2019 speakers faculty diet nutrition dietician san diego perfusion meeting


Tiffany Holt MS RD

Tiffany Holt is an integrative registered dietitian nutritionist (RD/RDN) with the Centers for Integrative Nutrition (CIN) and Research (CIR). As a clinical dietitian she practices a food first approach to medical nutrition therapy and covers a wide range of medical conditions. Through use of food as prevention, therapy, and medicine patients can learn the use of diet and lifestyle to restore balance and address “dis-ease” in the body. As a research dietitian, she assists in all stages of a study including protocol development, intervention implementation, and data analysis. Previous or active research projects include whole food, plant-based, and anti-inflammatory diets in the setting of hormone-related conditions, eye disease, autoimmunity, and psychosis.

CREF speaker Jeffrey P Jacobs


Jeffrey P. Jacobs MD FACS FACC FCCP

Dr. Jeffrey P. Jacobs, M.D., FACS, FACC, FCCP is Director of the Andrews/Daicoff Cardiovascular Program at Johns Hopkins All Children's Heart Institute and Professor of Cardiac Surgery (PAR) in the Division of Cardiac Surgery of the Department of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University. He is also Surgical Director of the Heart Transplantation Program and Director of the Extracorporeal Life Support Program at Johns Hopkins All Children's Heart Institute. Dr. Jacobs has been a cardiothoracic surgeon at All Children's Hospital since 1998.

Dr. Jacobs is Editor in Chief of Cardiology in the Young, one of the most widely read journals dedicated to patients with pediatric and congenital cardiac disease. He is Vice President of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association.

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.
CREF speaker Cheri Mah


Cheri D. Mah MD

Cheri D. Mah, MD, MS, is a sleep physician and lecturer at the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center. Over the past decade, her research has focused on the relationship between sleep and performance in elite athletes. Dr. Mah consults with professional teams in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB as well as international sports organizations on optimal performance and recovery strategies. She has worked with professional teams such as the World Champion Golden State Warriors (NBA), San Francisco Giants (MLB), San Jose Sharks (NHL), Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles (NFL), Toronto Blue Jays (MLB), among other teams. Her experience also includes working as the sleep expert for the Nike Performance Council, Gatorade, ESPN, Google, Supermoon Capital, and various sleep technology startups. Her research and work have been featured in national and international media including the NY Times, ESPN, NPR, NBC Bay Area, Time, BBC, and the Wall Street Journal.

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 speaker ERAS Vicki Morton


Vicki Morton DNP AGNP-BC

Vicki is a Board-Certified Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner and the Director of Clinical and Quality Outcomes at Providence Anesthesiology Associates in Charlotte, NC. She is responsible for the implementation, oversight, and expansion of the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program to include 17 service lines, 10 facilities within 3 hospital systems. Additionally, she has re-structured preoperative clinics to optimize patients preoperatively as well as reduce day of surgery delays and cancellations. Vicki is on the ERAS Cardiac Society Executive Board and was named the organization’s Director of International Relationships.

CREF speaker Lara Oyetunji


Lara Oyetunji MD MPH

Lara Oyetunji, MD, MPH is a cardiothoracic surgeon who specializes in the treatment of all adult general cardiac surgical diseases. She serves as the section chief of Cardiac Surgery at the Veterans Administration Puget Sound and also sees patients at the UW Medical Center – Montlake campus.

Dr. Oyetunji’s clinical interests include surgical transcatheter approaches to the management of valvular heart diseases including aortic stenosis, mitral valve disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. She has a keen interest in global surgery and seeks to develop academic partnerships toward sustainable surgical programs in low- and middle-income countries.

CREF speaker Paul Pepe San Diego perfusion meeting cardiac surgery conference



Dr. Paul Pepe, a longstanding Master of both the American College of Physicians and American College of Critical Care Medicine, has produced >500 publications, including numerous multi-disciplinary landmark papers. Board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine / Respiratory Diseases, Emergency Medicine and the EMS subspecialty, Dr. Pepe has received numerous global honors. 

Dr. Pepe has also been sought after and served for decades as the emergency medicine and trauma consultant for important national entities ranging from the U.S. Secret Service and White House Medical Unit to the National Basketball Association Trainers Association, among others.

In 2005, while receiving a national award for lifetime achievements from the American College of Emergency Physicians, the U.S. Surgeon General, presenting the award on behalf of the College, designated him “the most accomplished emergency medical services physician of our generation”.

CREF speaker Luc Puis 2022 Faculty


Luc Puis ECCP

Luc Puis worked as an ICU nurse in Brussels before beginning his career as a perfusionist in 2000. Teaching and training perfusion students has since become his passion. He has also been involved in international associations, including AmSECT, both as a member of the International Consortium of Evidence-Based Perfusion and as an attendee at the annual meeting.

Mr. Puis has presented at many meetings and authored and co-authored publications in the field of perfusion and cardiac surgery. He co-chaired and helped publish the 2019 EACTS/EACTA/EBCP Guidelines on Cardiopulmonary Bypass. He also publishes the Tiny Perfusion Letter and serves as a reviewer for The Journal of Extracorporeal Technology and Perfusion Journal.

CREF speaker faculty Jacob Raphael MD


Jacob Raphael MD

As an academic cardiac anesthesiologist, Dr. Raphael’s primary research interests are in topics related to cardiac anesthesia.  At present, he is evaluating whether certain haptoglobin phenotypes increase the risk for development of myocardial and renal complications post coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG).  In recognition of the frequency and severity of these complications, as well as the multitude of patients who undergo CABG each year, Dr. Raphael aims to identify necessary associations and reduce patient mortality.

CREF perfusion speaker Tami Rosenthal


Tami M. Rosenthal BS MBA CCP LP FPP

Tami Rosenthal is the Chief Perfusionist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her research interests include pediatric prime miniaturization and ventricular-assist devices. She is a practicing pediatric perfusionist and the 2022 AmSECT President Elect.

CREF 2022 Speaker Cyril Serrick Canada San Diego perfusion meeting cardiac surgery conference


Cyril J. Serrick MSc CPC CCP

Since 2011, perfusionist Cyril Serrick has served as Manager of Perfusion Services at University Health Network in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He oversees a department of 20 Perfusionists who do approximately 1600 cardiac cases, 125 lung transplants, 25 heart transplants, and 80 ECLS cases per year.

Mr. Serrick has extensive experience with minibypass equipment and techniques and other special perfusion techniques such as Ventricular Assist Devices, Xvivo perfusion systems, autotransfusion, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

CREF speaker Jessica Spence


Jessica Spence MD PhD

Jessica Spence is a cardiac anesthesiologist and intensivist who completed a research fellowship at PHRI and a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology under the supervision of PJ Devereaux.

She is an Assistant Professor at McMaster University and the Principal Investigator of the B-Free Cluster Crossover Trial. Her research program focuses on the perioperative outcomes of cardiac surgery.

CREF Speakers Stammers


Alfred H. Stammers MSA CCP (emeritus)

CREF Co-Director Al Stammers is a cardiovascular perfusionist who has practiced for over 35 years and is currently the Vice President of Clinical Quality and Outcomes Research at SpecialtyCare.

Al has undergraduate degrees from Cornell University, the State University of New York, Upstate Medical Center and holds a Masters Degree from Central Michigan University.  He was an Associate Professor in the School of Allied Health Professions, College of Medicine, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, where he directed a graduate-level perfusion education program. He currently serves as a Volunteer Faculty at several perfusion education programs.

Al is a past president of the American Society of ExtraCorporeal Technology, past editor of the Journal of ExtraCorporeal Technology, and founding member of the International Board of Blood Management and the International Consortium on Evidence Based Perfusion. He has authored 140+ peer-reviewed publications, including numerous book chapters, and is co-editor of the text Cardiopulmonary Bypass: Principles and Practice, 3rd Edition. Al’s research has focused on various aspects of cardiovascular perfusion and ECMO with an emphasis on patient safety.

Jamie Ungerleider CREF speaker keynote


Jamie Dickey Ungerleider MSW PhD

Jamie Dickey Ungerleider MSW, PhD was raised in Laurel, MS. She has spent over 40 years as an educator, psychotherapist (for individuals and couples), organizational consultant and executive coach. Since 2001, she began working primarily with health care professionals. Her work in these areas have helped her to guide important changes for clients that have translated into more effective practices and more fulfilling interpersonal relationships and life experiences.  She has published numerous peer reviewed articles on work-life balance, conflict management, teamwork and leadership styles.

CREF keynote speaker Ross Underleider MD


Ross M. Ungerleider MD MBA

Ross Michael Ungerleider MD, MBA received his training at Duke University Medical Center where he remained on the faculty for 15 years, rising to the level of tenured professor in 1996.  After 25 years at Duke, he took leadership roles at Oregon Health and Science University (Portland, OR), Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH), Wake Forest Baptist Health (Winston Salem, NC) and Driscoll Children’s Hospital (Corpus Christi, TX) helping to build children’s heart programs and teach leadership and teamwork at each organization.

Dr. Ungerleider is the author of over 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers and book chapters as well as an editor of two major textbooks on cardiac surgery. He has been named to America’s Best Doctors, Cambridge’s Who’s Who, Castle Connolly’s Top Doctors (receiving their distinction as being among the top 1% nationally in his field), and by Good Housekeeping as one of the best pediatric cardiac surgeons in the U.S.  In 2000, he was the recipient of the James Carreras International Humanitarian Award for his work performing heart surgery on children in Nicaragua.

CREF speakers Whitehead cardiac surgery perfusion ECMO


E. Daniel Whitehead MHS CCP

Daniel Whitehead works as a staff perfusionist for Comprehensive Care Services and the ECMO Director for Birmingham, Alabama. He