CREF Speakers

The 2018 CREF speakers include experts in the field of cardiothoracic surgery, cardiovascular anesthesia, extracorporeal perfusion, health service research and quality, hematology, and human-factors engineering. View the brief biographies of this year's invited CREF faculty below.

The 38th Annual Cardiothoracic Surgery Symposium is dedicated to providing quality 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, and abstract presenters, and more, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.

Invited Speakers & Faculty

2018 CREF Speakers Joanna Chikwe MD


Joanna Chikwe MD

CREF Course Co-Director Dr. Joanna Chikwe is Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital, leading a multi-disciplinary team that works closely with cardiologists and vascular surgeons to manage the full spectrum of surgical, transcatheter, and endovascular treatment options to patients with adult cardiac surgical disease. Dr. Chikwe also serves as Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York.

2018 CREF Speakers Tara Cohen PhD

Tara Cohen PhD


Tara Cohen PhD, Research Scientist and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, received her doctorate in Human Factors from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  Dr. Cohen's research interests center around proactive approaches to patient safety, including identifying and mitigating potential threats to safety or workflow disruptions in the cardiac operating room. She offers practical tips for healthcare quality improvement founded on well-documented research.

CREF Faculty and Keynote Speaker

Tirone E. David MD


Dr. David is known worldwide for his surgical creativity and for having developed numerous operative procedures; one of them is the "David Operation," a valve-sparing aortic root replacement procedure in patients with aortic root aneurysms. Dr. David is credited for having the first cardiac-surgery database in Canada back in 1978. A frequent speaker at international conferences, he shares his expertise and demonstrates surgical techniques. Dr. David has published over 350 articles in peer-reviewed journals, authored numerous chapters in surgical textbooks, and served as the editor or co-editor of five surgical textbooks. In 2005, Dr. David served as president of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and an officer many years.

CREF Speaker De La Cruz


Kim De La Cruz CCP

Since 2007, perfusionist Kim De La Cruz has served as the Director of Perfusion Services and Coordinator of the ECMO Program at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Ms. De La Cruz currently serves on the Blood and Blood Derivatives, POCT, and ECMO committees. She has participated in many quality and performance improvement projects for the department, two of which led to a publication in Transfusion Medicine and recognition as an ELSO (Extracorporeal Life Support Organization) Center of Excellence. 



David C. 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.

2018 CREF Speakers / Faculty Lawrence Tim Goodnough MD


Lawrence Tim Goodnough MD

Dr. Lawrence Tim Goodnough currently serves as Professor of Pathology and Medicine (Hematology) at the Stanford University Medical Center. Dr. Goodnough's research interests include the following: alternatives to blood therapy, including autologous blood use; acute normovolemic hermodicution; stimulation of red blood cell production with erythropoietic agents; pharmacologic strategies to reduce blood loss; artificial oxygen carriers; and re-evaluation of transfusion triggers.

CREF Speakers Gudzenko


Vadim Gudzenko MD

Dr. Gudzenko is an 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

Turkish cardiac surgeon Dr. Serdar Gunaydin serves as Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, at the University of Health Sciences in Ankara, Turkey. He is also a member of the Steering Committee for MiECTiS, an organization dedicated to minimally invasive cardiac surgery. Dr. Gunaydin assists the CREF Program Committee by proposing topics and speakers for the scientific agenda.

2018 CREF Speakers William Hiesinger MD


William Hiesinger MD

Dr. William Hiesinger serves as Assistant Professor of Adult Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University Medical Center. There he also leads the Hiesinger Lab, which fosters collaborative research among clinicians, engineers, and scientists to create solutions to clinically relevant cardiovascular problems. Dr. Hiesinger also serves as the Director of the MCS Program and has extensive ECMO clinical and programmatic experience.

2018 CREF Speakers Robert Kramer MD


Robert S. Kramer MD

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. His research interests include coronary artery bypass grafting, acute kidney injury, hemodynamics, and more. As a CREF Program Committee member, Dr. Kramer helps select topics and speakers to address the unique educational needs of our international, interdisciplinary audience. 
CREF Speakers Likosky


Donald S. Likosky PhD MS

Dr. Likosky is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cardiac Surgery at Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, and the Section Head of Health Services Research and Quality. He is also a faculty member at the Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy. He has held leadership positions within a number of quality improvement collaboratives, including Associate Director for the Northern New England Cardiovascular Disease Study Group and Epidemiologist for the Vascular Study Group of New England. Dr. Likosky is the Director of the International Consortium for Evidence-Based Perfusion (ICEBP), and the Research Director for the PERFusion Measures and outcomes (PERForm) registry, a multi-institutional cardiovascular perfusion registry.

2019 CREF Speaker Keynote David Mazer MD


C. David Mazer MD FRCPC

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; these include practice guidelines and position statements related to perioperative transfusion and hemostasis from the STS, SCVA, and the CCS. Dr. Mazer was a lead investigator in the BART trial and is the principal investigator for TRICS III, a global study of transfusion triggers in cardiac surgery.

CREF Speakers Mongero


Linda B. Mongero BS CCP

Perfusionist Linda Mongero is the Director of Education and Clinical Performance for SpecialtyCare, Inc. Prior to that, she served for nearly 30 years as the Director of Perfusion Services at New York-Presbyterian / Columbia University Medical Center. Throughout her career, she has been a leading perfusionist and instructor, and she has contributed to academic research, clinical trials, and professional organizations. Ms. Mongero has also served as president of the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion and the American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion. 

CREF Faculty Pawale


Amit A. Pawale MD FRCS

A native of India, Dr. Amit Pawale currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and an Associate Director of Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Assist Devices at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Dr. Pawale performs a comprehensive range of adult cardiac surgical procedures, including mitral valve repair, aortic root reconstruction, and coronary artery bypass surgery, and coronary revascularization, and he has a special interest in minimally invasive cardiac surgery. 

CREF Speakers Stammers


Alfred H. Stammers MSA CCP

CREF Course Co-Director Alfred H. Stammers serves as Vice President of Clinical Quality & Outcomes Research at SpecialtyCare, Inc. Al established and directed the Master 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 - Wahr


Joyce A. Wahr MD FAHA

Dr. Joyce Wahr, Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Minnesota, is a board-certified anesthesiologist practicing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dr. Wahr graduated from University of Colorado School of Medicine and has served as Director of the ICU Rotation for Residents, Director of Cardiac Anesthesiology, and Director of the Cardiac Research Program. She is the first author on the American Heart Association Scientific Statement “Patient Safety in the Cardiac Operating Room: Teamwork and Human Factors.”