CREF Speakers

The 2023 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 keynote speaker Joanna Chikwe


Joanna Chikwe MD FRCS

Joanna Chikwe, MD, FRCS, FACC studied medicine at Oxford University after spending two years in Florence, Italy, studying art. She completed cardiac surgery residency training in the UK, and joined Mount Sinai Hospital in New York in 2006 eventually becoming Professor and Chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at Mount Sinai West.

In 2019 Dr. Chikwe was recruited to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, where she serves as the George Schaefer Distinguished Professor of Surgery and founding Chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery at the Smidt Heart Institute. 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 Amanda Crosby, perfusionist 2023 San Diego


Amanda Crosby MPS MS CCP 

Perfusionist Amanda Crosby graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina and has been a practicing perfusionist since 2014. She is currently a perfusionist at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and serves as the Student Clinical Coordinator.

Amanda is an active AmSECT member who volunteers with several committees, including as Chair for the International Consortium for Evidence-Based Perfusion (ICEBP) and the Safety Committee. She was selected as the 2023 AmSECT Perfusionist of the Year.

CREF 2023 speaker Kimberly De La Cruz


Kimberly De La Cruz MS CCP

Kim De La Cruz is the director of Perfusion Services and coordinator of the ECMO program at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA. She received her training from the Perfusion program at Barry University in Miami, Florida. Ms. De La Cruz received her first Bachelor’s of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology with a minor in Chemistry at California State University at Northridge in Northridge, CA.

She has been at UCLA since 1999 and became Director in 2007.  She currently serves on the Blood and Blood derivatives, POCT, and ECMO committees. Ms. De La Cruz has been involved with many quality and performance improvement projects for the department, which led to UCLA being recognized as a Center of Excellence from the ELSO (Extracorporeal Life Support Organization) and a publication in Transfusion Medicine 2012.

Ms. De La Cruz is currently involved with ongoing research in mechanical assist applications for heart failure.

CREF faculty speaker Dominic Emerson MD Cedars-Sinai California


Dominic Emerson MD

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.

CREF speaker Myke Federman MD


Myke Federman MD

Dr. Myke Federman received her undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York. She attended medical school at the University of California, San Diego and completed her residency in pediatrics and fellowship in pediatric critical care at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. She is currently a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, the Fellowship Program Director for Pediatric Critical Care and the Medical Director of the Pediatric Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit.

CREF faculty 2023 Amanda Fox MD MPH


Amanda A. Fox MD MPH

Dr. Fox is the Vice Chair of Clinical and Translational Research with the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management at UT Southwestern. She also leads the newly established Perioperative Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Program, which seeks to understand genetic variation, biomarkers, and other factors before, during, and after surgery that can influence surgical outcomes.

For more than a decade, Dr. Fox has been a co-investigator with researchers at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in a large, multicenter biobanking study of cardiac surgical patients. Under Dr. Fox’s direction, the study will expand in location and in scope to allow researchers to identify possible genetic variants and circulating biomarkers in an effort to reduce surgical complications such as postoperative heart failure and kidney injury.

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 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 speaker Tyler Gunn MD, San Diego California perfusion meeting


Tyler M. Gunn MD

Tyler Gunn, MD, is an assistant professor of cardiac surgery in the Department of Cardiac Surgery at The Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, California. He also serves as director of the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program (ECMO) within the Cedars-Sinai Health System.

An Iowa native, Gunn earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and his medical degree from the University of Iowa. He completed his surgical residency at the University of Kentucky.

Gunn then spent his fellowship year at the Smidt Heart Institute, training alongside some of the most respected experts in cardiothoracic transplant surgery and ECMO.

CREF 2023 speaker George Justison CCP


George Justison CCP

Mr. Justison is a graduate of The Ohio State University, College of Medicine, School of Allied Health Professions with a degree in Circulation Technology. With over 30 years of experience he has worked in multiple large academic and private hospitals in the United States. He is currently the Clinical Manger of Perfusion at the University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz Medical Campus for SpecialtyCare. He is an active researcher, presenter and author of more than 25 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. He was the 2012 recipient of the Fellowship Award for outstanding scientific presentation from the American Society of Extracorporeal Technology.

CREF faculty Robert Kramer MD 2023 San Diego


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 speaker faculty Eriberto Michel MD 2023 San Diego


Eriberto Michel MD

Eriberto Michel, MD, is an adult cardiac surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center. His practice focuses on thoracic organ failure, lung transplantation, heart transplantation, mechanical circulatory support, and adult cardiac surgery.

Dr. Michel received his medical degree (MD) from the University of Washington School of Medicine. He completed his internship, residency, and chief residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Northwestern University. He then went on to complete a Thoracic Transplant Surgery fellowship at Duke University.

Dr. Michel's research interests include clinical outcomes in heart and lung transplantation and mechanical circulatory support, health equity, and healthcare equality.

CREF speaker Alison Mueller, SOFA


Alison D. Mueller

As an engineer and also a military veteran, Alison worked internationally with major corporations and the US Air Force to solve complex operations and supply chain issues. The results were tens of millions in savings and increased profitability. Now as the principal of Mueller Asset Strategies, she is dedicated to using the same proven strategies to focus on helping YOU avoid financial pitfalls and optimize and secure your Money Supply Chain™️.

CREF Speakers Newland


Richard Newland BS CCP (Aust)

Richard Newland is a Senior Perfusionist in the Department of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery at Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide, South Australia. He has a special interest in the development and use of electronic data in clinical practice, working on improving the process for the collection of data, developing software and electronic databases.  His academic focus has been on the utilisation of electronic data for research, quality control and improvement.  He has authored papers related to this topic, as well as cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) temperature management, emboli measurement and auditing practice change.  In 2005 and 2011, the abstracts submitted on electronic data management to the CREF meeting received the Utley award.  He is the data coordinator and developer of the Australian and New Zealand Collaborative Perfusion Registry (ANZCPR).  The objective of the ANZCPR is to empower cardiac surgical team members through the collection and reporting of data relevant to the practice of CPB.  This is achieved through utilization of the data to understand clinical practice, provide a foundation for research, and to facilitate quality improvement.  Formed in 2007, the registry has collected data in more than 40,000 procedures in 10 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand and meets its objectives through the publication of an annual report and ongoing peer reviewed publications.

CREF speaker Summer Pizzuti CCP 2023 San Diego Perfusion Meeting


Summer Pizzuti MBA CCP LP

 Summer Pizzuti is currently working as a full-time locum Perfusionist, self-contracting with her business, US Perfusion, LLC. She graduated from the Rangos School of Health Sciences at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA with her Perfusion degree in 1999, working most of her Perfusion career in metro Detroit. 

As a locum Perfusionist, Summer has traveled across the US in the past 2½ years, covering the adult cardiac population from large academic centers to small community hospitals and everything in between. She has developed and maintained strong relationships with past co-workers and is often asked by former colleagues to come back and work with them again. 

Perfusion technology and techniques evolve over the years, and being flexible and open to learning is crucial for success in the operating room environment. As a traveling Perfusionist this is a sure constant. Over the years Summer has noticed that what is not taught in perfusion school is culture in the operating room; specifically, how to cultivate a healthy and positive culture in the operating room. 

In her off-time, Summer enjoys yoga, hiking, biking and spending time with her family and friends. 

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 speaker Jessica Spence


Jessica Spence MD PhD FRCPC

Jessica Spence is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Anesthesia and Critical Care at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Both her clinical and academic work are dedicated to optimizing the perioperative outcomes of patients having cardiac surgery. Her clinical work is divided between the cardiac surgical OR and ICU, where she serves as a cardiac anesthesiologist and intensivist.

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.

CREF 2023 keynot speaker Kenichi Tanaka MD


Kenichi Tanaka MD

I am a practicing cardiac anesthesiologist and Chair/Professor of Anesthesiology. My research focuses on perioperative coagulation management, transfusion and surgery-related outcome analyses. I have conducted a broad range of studies from laboratory-based ex vivo and coagulation device studies to clinical trials in cardiac surgical patients. My early work has extensively focused on viscoelastic coagulation monitoring devices, which subsequently led to their clinical application and research studies as part of bloodless surgery and patient blood management. I have obtained a Master of Science degree in Clinical Research during my junior years. and As PI or co-Investigator on multiple industry-, university- or foundation-funded grants, I have studied novel hemostasis monitoring methods, procoagulant and anticoagulant agents, and other means to modulate hemostasis and thrombosis. I am able to organize a group of investigators and other supports to conduct research projects in the field of perioperative hemostasis management.