UC Davis Health has been designated as a training center for the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) Foundation’s Cardiac Surgical Robotics Program, the first such center in California and just the sixth in the United States.

Under the leadership of Bob Kiaii, M.D., F.R.C.S.C., F.A.C.S., chief of the Division of Adult Cardiac Surgery, and adult cardiac surgeon Jorge Catrip, M.D., surgeons from across the country will come to UC Davis Health to learn techniques to master the fundamentals of robotic mitral valve surgery. UC Davis is the program’s first training center in the West.

“This designation is a significant accomplishment by the dedicated members of our robotic cardiac team, including nursing, perfusion, anesthesia and cardiac surgery,” said Kiaii, who is the 2021/2022 president of the International Society of Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery (ISMICS). “It illustrates our mission to offer the most advanced medical technology and provide the best health care to our patients.”

Kiaii and Catrip will be the primary surgeons leading the trainings at the host center. Kiaii joined the Department of Surgery in 2019 and is known internationally as a leader in pioneering minimally invasive cardiac procedures, including robotic-assisted heart surgery. He performed a number of pioneering operations before arriving at UC Davis from Canada’s Western University, including the world’s first robotic-assisted surgeries for aortic valve replacement for aortic valve stenosis, right atrial perforation repair, and left atrial appendage ligation for atrial fibrillation.

In 2020, Kiaii performed Northern California’s first robotic mitral valve repair, as one of the initial cases at UC Davis Health to leverage his long expertise in advancing minimally invasive cardiac surgery techniques.

Catrip completed a clinical fellowship in Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery (MICS) and robotic heart surgery at the University Hospital, London in Canada under Kiaii’s leadership, as well as a clinical fellowship in valve repair at Toronto General Hospital and an observership in totally endoscopic coronary artery bypass surgery at the Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. He’s double board-certified in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery, and previously served as deputy chief of adult cardiovascular surgery at the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología Ignacio Chavez in Mexico City.

Other host surgeons and institutions that have partnered with the AATS program include:

  • Cleveland Clinic: Marc Gillinov, M.D.
  • Emory University at Midtown: Michael Halkos, M.D.
  • Mayo Clinic: Joseph Dearani, M.D.
  • New York University: Eugene Grossi, M.D.
  • West Virginia University: Vinay Badhwar, M.D.

“Advanced robotics is revolutionizing minimally-invasive surgery for both the patient and the physician,” Kiaii said. “The robot overcomes the limitations of traditional technology and allows patients to have proven cardiac surgical repairs without the invasive incisions.”

Learn more: aats.org