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University of Iowa News Release

June 15, 2005

New UI Department Of Cardiothoracic Surgery Approved By Board Of Regents

The Board of Regents, State of Iowa has approved the creation of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. The new department will be formed from the existing Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery within the Department of Surgery and will be the 24th department within the UI Carver College of Medicine.

The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery was founded in 1948 by Johann "Hans" Ehrenhaft, M.D., to care for patients with diseases of the chest requiring operative interventions. Each year, cardiothoracic surgeons at UI Hospitals and Clinics perform more than 700 heart surgeries, including coronary bypasses, transplants and placement of mechanical cardiac assist devices, and more than 600 surgeries for other conditions related to general thoracic surgery with special expertise in both benign and malignant diseases of the esophagus and lungs. The UI is currently the only heart transplant center in Iowa.

"Cardiothoracic surgery at the UI has a long and distinguished history. It is the third-oldest program in the country and is nationally recognized for the technical skill of its faculty, the quality of its residency program and its leadership in clinical research," said Michael Hogan, UI executive vice president and provost. "Elevating the division of cardiothoracic surgery to a department will further strengthen the quality of this great program, which provides Iowans with excellent patient care and trains the next generation of cardiothoracic surgeons."

The UI cardiothoracic surgery residency program already is an independent program housed within the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. The program, which is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), is Iowa's only cardiothoracic training program. Two residents each year are accepted into the two-year residency program, which has been in existence since 1948, the first year that the American Board of Thoracic Surgery recognized training programs.

UI cardiothoracic surgeons are considered leaders in clinical research, particularly in the areas of oncologic surgery, diseases of the esophagus, artificial organs, pediatric cardiac surgery and transplantation. The division also is in the process of developing strengths in basic science research.

"The achievements of the division now meet the full academic complement expected of a department in the Carver College of Medicine," said Jean Robillard, M.D., dean of the UI Carver College of Medicine. "Granting departmental status will allow cardiothoracic surgery to attract and retain top clinical and research faculty, which will further enhance education and training and grow research productivity."

Donna Katen-Bahensky, director and CEO of UI Hospitals and Clinics, also noted that the new department's increased visibility and fiscal autonomy will allow it to attract the best physicians and enhance its ability to provide surgical treatments for chest disease.

"The new department will be in a position to expand existing patient care programs and develop new ones in areas such as pulmonary insufficiency and heart failure," Katen-Bahensky said.

Mark Iannettoni, M.D., the Johann L. Ehrenhaft Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, will lead the newly formed department. Iannettoni was hired by the UI Carver College of Medicine in 2004 to head the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

"This is a tremendous step forward for UI Hospitals and Clinics and the Carver College of Medicine with respect to educating leaders in the field of thoracic surgery, as was Dr. Ehrenhaft's original vision," Iannettoni said. "We will strive to achieve both regional and national recognition as a premier center by combining patient-focused high quality care with innovative technologies and techniques driven by evidence based practice."

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5135 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, (319) 335-9917