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University of Maryland School of Medicine Appoints Two Nationally Renowned Surgeons to Important Leadership Roles in the Department of Surgery

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

James S. Gammie, M.D.
 James S. Gammie, M.D.

University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., and Stephen T. Bartlett, M.D., The Peter Angelos Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery, have announced the appointment of two new division chiefs in the Department of Surgery. James S. Gammie, M.D., professor of Surgery, has been appointed as the new Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery, and Sheri Slezak, M.D., professor of Surgery, has been named the new Chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Dr. James Gammie to lead the Division of Cardiac Surgery

As division chief, Dr. Gammie will oversee an extensive range of cardiac surgical services, from repairing congenital heart defects in infants and children to heart transplantations and other complex procedures for high-risk adult patients. Dr. Gammie is an expert in surgery of the mitral valve and a nationally-known cardiac surgery outcomes investigator.  He currently performs more than 200 mitral valve operations per year. He has developed a specialized practice focusing on mitral valve repair, minimally invasive mitral valve surgery, and the surgical treatment of infective endocarditis. He has organized a clinical research unit within the Division of Cardiac Surgery and serves as a principal investigator for the NHLBI-sponsored multi-center Cardiothoracic Surgery Trials Network.

Dr. Gammie will guide the Division of Cardiac Surgery in five areas of sub-specialization including: heart and lung transplantation and mechanical circulatory support, heart valve disease, coronary disease, pediatric and adult congenital disease, and arrhythmias. He will collaborate with the Division of Cardiology within the University of Maryland Heart Center to improve patient outcomes through hybrid procedures involving cardiologists and cardiac surgeons working together in the operating room. He will also oversee one of the only integrated cardiothoracic training programs in the country, which provides a focused training experience in cardiothoracic surgery.

“Dr. Gammie will continue to build upon the reputation the Division has established of recruiting and training top surgeons who sub-specialize in key areas where we know we can overcome cardiac challenges, such as mechanical circulatory support and heart valve disease,” says Dr. Bartlett, who is also Senior Vice President and Surgeon-in-Chief at the University of Maryland Medical System.  

Dr. Gammie is a highly published physician-scientist and serves in editorial roles for numerous cardiothoracic journals, including Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, the British Medical Journal, Circulation, and the Journal of Heart Valve Disease. He is currently the principal investigator on two (2) NIH research grants in mitral valve surgery. Dr. Gammie has been a member of the School of Medicine faculty since 2002 and has served as director of the Program in Heart Valve Disease within the Division of Cardiac Surgery since 2006.

Dr. Gammie replaces Dr. Bartley Griffith, who led the Division of Cardiac Surgery since 2001. “Drs. Gammie and Griffith are outstanding physician scientists with decades of clinical care and research experience,” says Dean Reece, who also is vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor at the School of Medicine. "They personify our mission - to provide world class patient care in addition to conducting groundbreaking research and providing outstanding education. Dr. Gammie will continue the exceptional leadership displayed by Dr. Griffith to advance our research expertise in surgical therapies using minimally invasive techniques and mechanical and circulatory assist devices.”

"Dr. Griffith has had a profound impact on the care of our heart and lung patients over the years, and we are all grateful for his leadership contributions to the Division and the entire field of cardiothoracic surgery," says Dr. Bartlett. "I look forward to his continued involvement in the care of our sickest cardiac and pulmonary patients as he continues his clinical responsibilities and expands his research initiatives for the treatment of advanced lung disease."

Dr. Gammie received his A.B. in biochemistry at Brown University before obtaining his M.D. at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His clinical training was performed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, where he completed his residency in general surgery, followed by a research fellowship within the Divisions of Cellular Therapeutics and Cardiothoracic Surgery, and a clinical fellowship within the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Dr. Sheri Slezak to Lead the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Sheri Slezak, M.D.Dr. Slezak has been a member of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery since 1989. She is renowned for her work in breast reconstruction and is one of only a handful of women who have risen to be plastic surgery division chiefs in the country. Dr. Slezak is a passionate teacher and mentor who considers professional cultivation an important part of her job as division chief. Dr. Slezak will continue to lead the division in basic and clinical research, including studying the role of stem cells from fat as soft tissue fillers.

“It gives me great pleasure to see Dr. Slezak achieve this new level of leadership,” says Dr. Bartlett. “She is an outstanding teacher and mentor who is deeply invested in the future of reconstructive surgery and in helping her colleagues find new and better ways to improve the quality of life for our patients.”

The Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the School of Medicine includes a total of six faculty physicians, including two new faculty physicians joining this summer. Dr. Slezak will continue to lead this expanding team in performing plastic and reconstructive surgeries across a variety of specialties in patients who have had cancer treatment, burns, congenital defects, and trauma.

“Dr. Slezak's appointment signifies our commitment to support and expand this important clinical service, which helps to provide physical and emotional restoration when it’s needed most," says Dean Reece. “I am confident Dr. Slezak will lead the Division of Plastic Surgery into a bright future of top-tier research, education and patient care."

Dr. Slezak is presently the only female plastic surgeon on the leadership board of American Board of Plastic Surgery and is author of the CoreQuest curriculum of plastic surgery, which has been adopted as the teaching text in many plastic surgery training programs throughout the country.  In 2011, Dr. Slezak was named a "top doctor" by U.S. News and World Report, indicating that she is in the top one percent of their specialty field. In 2010, Dr. Slezak was selected by her peers to Baltimore Magazine's list of top doctors.

Dr. Slezak attended Harvard Medical School, followed by a residency in general surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital. She completed an immunology research fellowship and plastic surgery fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

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