July 20, 2017

Shah named to lead Department of Cardiac Surgery

Ashish Shah, M.D., director of Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support at Vanderbilt, has been named chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery.

Ashish Shah, M.D., director of Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support at Vanderbilt, has been named chair of the Department of Cardiac Surgery.

Ashish Shah, M.D.

Shah, professor of Cardiac Surgery, succeeds Michael Petracek, M.D., who is stepping down from the post. The appointment became effective July 1.

Shah was recruited to Vanderbilt from Johns Hopkins in 2015, where he was the associate director of the Division of Cardiac Surgery and director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Support Program.

“Dr. Petracek is to be celebrated for his many contributions to the Department of Cardiac Surgery and our health system,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer. “Mike has been a wonderful leader and worked tirelessly to advance the missions of his department, including superb clinical care and great educational programs. Among many other accomplishments, he and Dr. Shah have built our Heart Transplant program into the nation’s second largest.

“Dr. Shah is an outstanding leader who we are confident will successfully build upon Dr. Petracek’s work and the department’s many strengths. I look forward to working closely with him in this new role,” Pinson said.

Michael Petracek, M.D.

In the two years since Shah joined Vanderbilt he has contributed to many significant accomplishments and milestones within the Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute (VHVI). Both Shah and Petracek agree the time is right to pass the baton.

“It was very important that we ensured a very smooth transition,” Shah said. “We wanted to be able to build on what Dr. Petracek has created with all of the members of the cardiac surgery and cardiology teams to allow us to move onto the next step — start the process of tackling big problems while continuing to build our clinical enterprise.

“That is really the engine that drives our other missions of discovery and teaching, which we do uniquely well. As we think about our future, I’d like to start looking at the cardiovascular space in a more disease-oriented way rather than purely procedurally and bring together multiple disciplines to start thinking about how best to tackle 21st century cardiovascular challenges.”

Shah, who earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and completed his internship, residency and research fellowship at Duke University Medical Center, has four broad areas he is interested in exploring as he looks into the future of VHVI — heart failure and organ reconditioning, arrhythmia, paradigm shifting technology centering on structural heart disease and physiologic monitoring of the circulation to allow for better care of patients.

R. Daniel Beauchamp, M.D., chief of the Section of Surgical Sciences and John Clinton Foshee Distinguished Professor of Surgery, said Shah is well equipped to lead the department.

“Dr. Shah has demonstrated the determination and expertise to further departmental efforts in enriching the educational experience for our residents and fellows while continuing to grow this important program and lead the country in providing our patients personalized innovative care,” he said, “The collaborative environment between cardiology and cardiac surgery, established by Dr. Petracek, is solidly grounded to meet present and future challenges while developing the model for cardiac care in a large academic center.”

Petracek, named chair of the department in 2013, said locating a successor was his first step toward retirement.

“Although this has always been a part of the plan (once Shah came), I sort of feel like a racehorse in the Kentucky Derby rounding the last turn,” said Petracek. “I was given a mandate to build a clinical program. We accomplished that and now it’s time to move on to someone who can build on that and move us into the next phase.”

Shah said he was ready to nurture the future of cardiac surgery and cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt.

“It’s my turn to give back,” said Shah. “I have been the beneficiary of incredible teachers who have been inspirational role models for effective leadership. It’s my turn to create an environment for creative and talented people do great things and have a real impact.”