• To offer a comprehensive education curriculum, committed to the intellectual, technical and professional maturation of future Cardiothoracic Surgeons
  • To support resident research initiatives that will transform patient care
  • Develop a culturally competent workforce who practices patient-centered and cost-effective care
  • Develop clinicians who provide the highest quality cardiothoracic surgical care within the communities they serve
  • Provide the foundation for graduates to be leaders and innovators

The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of California, Davis began its Thoracic Surgery Training Program in 1993. The program is designed to provide excellent training in cardiothoracic surgery. Trainees are selected each year through the Thoracic Surgery National Residency Matching Program. The American Board of Thoracic Surgery (ABTS) has certified all trainees that have completed the program.

The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery offers two training pathways for ABTS eligibility: 1) Independent 2-year Pathway and 2) Integrated 6-year Pathway.  Both pathways participate in the National Residency Match Program (NRMP).  Applications are being accepted through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). 

The Independent 2-year Pathway is a two-year training program. Eligible applicants are those who are due to complete an ACGME accredited general surgery training program.  During their training, the resident receives extensive training in general thoracic and cardiac surgery. The first year of the program is spent primarily in the area of general thoracic surgery with a substantial cardiac surgical experience as well. During the second year, the trainee focuses their experience in cardiac surgery and complex thoracic surgical cases.

The Integrated 6-year Pathway is a comprehensive six-year training program.  Eligible applicants meet the following qualifications: 1) graduate of medical schools in the US and Canada accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME); 2) graduate of colleges of osteopathic medicine in the US accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Each rotation in the thoracic residency incorporates outpatient instruction and responsibility, where pre-, peri- and postoperative care is integrated at various levels. All general thoracic rotations and the majority of the adult cardiac rotations will occur during the first four post graduate years of the proposed 6-year integrated program. The thoracic resident will be involved in the majority of pre-operative assessment, evaluation and care and nearly all perioperative and post-operative care and management.

The faculty sets specific goals for the trainees, the most important being that the residents learn to make appropriate surgical judgments and develop technical skills that will enable them to provide superb cardiothoracic care for their patients upon completion of the program.

The faculty of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery is responsible for the training of the thoracic residents, and for the general surgical residents and medical students who rotate on the service. Both categorical and preliminary residents in general surgery rotate on the service. During their initial experience, they are familiarized with techniques in critical care, evaluation of the thoracic patient and basic surgical skills. All residents participate very actively in the outpatient and inpatient settings.

Exposure to all aspects of cardiothoracic surgery including general thoracic surgery, adult cardiac surgery, and pediatric cardiac surgery is provided to the thoracic surgical resident. Experience obtained in each of these areas has traditionally far exceeded the requirements of the Residency Review Committee for Thoracic Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. In addition, there are multiple didactic programs each week covering the entire scope of the cardiothoracic curriculum. Each thoracic resident is encouraged to participate in one clinical research project per year. The division maintains funds to support the presentation of this research material by the thoracic resident at regional and national meetings

Members of the faculty in Cardiothoracic Surgery are actively involved in both clinical and basic research. The basic lab has had success with multiple presentations and publications in cardiothoracic journals and at national and regional meetings. Previous areas of investigation have included laboratory and clinical studies on myocardial protection, organ donor preservation and management, off pump coronary bypass surgery, esophageal surgery, and lung cancer. The division is involved with the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group and the Southwest Oncology Group. Additionally, the division extends its expertise internationally with collaborative programs in St. Petersburg, Russia, traveling to St. Petersburg at least once a year for the past twelve years.

The Cardiothoracic Surgery Programs at UC Davis encompass the operative and perioperative care as well as critical care of patients with pathological conditions within the chest. Included are the surgical care of coronary artery disease, congenital anomalies of the chest and heart and great vessels, traumatic injuries of the chest, neoplasms of the lung, esophagus, chest wall, mediastinum and deformities of the diaphragm. In addition to traditional operative procedures, minimally invasive and endovascular procedures are included in the residents’ training.

As described above, the program is balanced, offering the three disciplines of cardiothoracic surgery: general thoracic surgery, adult cardiac surgery, and pediatric cardiac surgery. Over 900 major cardiothoracic surgical procedures are performed each year. The intimate size of the program affords one-on-one interaction between residents and faculty. Advanced surgical technology is being offered to patients on a regular basis including ventricular assist devices, robotic adult cardiac surgery, thoracic endovascular aortic repair or TEVAR, VATS lobectomy and navigational bronchoscopy. In addition, UC Davis is a high volume center for complex esophageal disease, with a top Leapfrog Group rating for esophagectomy, the third highest esophagectomy volume in northern California, and the top volume in the Sacramento area.

The Thoracic Surgery Residency Programs (Independent and Integrated) participates in the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery grants interviews after an initial screening process. The Thoracic Surgery Training Program participates in the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). If you are applying for the Thoracic Surgery Residency, it is listed through ERAS under AAMC ID: 1046460F0 (Independent) and AAMC ID: 4610546105 (Integrated). For more information visit the NRMP Specialty Match website.

Important application information: A requirement for acceptance into a residency program in the State of California is that an applicant is eligible for medical licensure. For the Independent Program the Medical Board of California requires that all residents (regardless of their specialty) be licensed prior to the start of the PG-III training year. If you have any questions as to whether or not your medical school curriculum meets the requirement for licensure in the State of California, please contact the Medical Board directly at (916) 263-2344.

Currently, the University of California Davis Medical Center does not require drug testing of its residents. However, certain required rotations in the residency program, outside the UC Davis Medical Center, do require drug testing.

Required application documents:

  • NRMP Thoracic Surgery application form
  • One page curriculum vitae
  • One page personal statement
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • USMLE Scores, Step I, Step II and Step III (If applicable)
  • ABSITE Scores (If applicable)

Statement on Applicants Who May be Interested in Applying to both the UC Davis Cardiothoracic Integrative 6-Year (I-6) Residency Program and the General Surgery Residency Program:

If applicants are interested in the CT Surgery I-6 Residency and General Surgery Residency they are encouraged to apply to both programs.  Applicants who apply to both programs will be given equal and fair evaluation.  If an applicant is granted an interview to both programs, UC Davis will make best efforts to accommodate a same day interview for the applicant.

David Tom Cooke, MD, FACS
Program Director, Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency
Vice Chair for Faculty Development
Joseph Galante, MD, FACS
Vice Chair for Education
Department of Surgery

(SUR 468) Cardiothoracic Surgery
Physician in Charge: Staff
The student works as an acting intern, participating in perioperative management and operations on the heart, lungs, mediastinum and other thoracic structures. Regularly scheduled teaching conferences are conducted.


Should you be interested in enrolling, please download application directions at the Visiting Student admission page.

Marissa Valentin-Clark
Student Course Coordinator
UC Davis Medical Center
Surgery Housestaff Office
Suite OP 512 Pavilion
2315 Stockton Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95817
(916) 734-5638
Fax (916) 734-2726

Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

David Tom Cooke, M.D.

Program Director, Cardiothoracic Residency Program

Head, Section of General Thoracic Surgery
Vice Chair for Faculty Development

J. Nilas Young, M.D. Division Chief
Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Lisa Brown, M.D. General Thoracic Surgery
Paul Perry, M.D. Associate Program Director

Adult Cardiac Surgery

Gary Raff, M.D. Head, Section of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery
Amy Rahm, M.D. Associate Program Director
Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery
Victor Rodriguez, M.D. Adult Cardiac Surgery

Thoracic Surgery Resident Roster

Luis Godoy, M.D., 6th Year Resident 
Medical School: University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, CA
Melissa Blaker, D.O., 5th Year Resident
Medical School: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Erie, PA
Amir Sarkeshik, D.O., 4th Year Resident
Medical School: Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine
Anna Xue, M.D., 3rd Year Resident
Medical School: University of Washington School of Medicine Seattle, WA

Nataliya Bahatyrevich, M.D., 2nd Year Resident
Medical School: Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Sarah Chen, M.D., M.S. 1st Year Resident
Medical School: University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, CA