Professor Volkmar Falk is medical director and director of the DHZB Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery of the German Heart Center Berlin and Chair of the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Charité Berlin.
After successfully completing Medical School and his doctorate at the University of Bonn he began his basic surgical training at the University in Göttingen and completed his residency at the Department of Cardiac Surgery of the Heart Center Leipzig. From 1998 to 2003 he held the position of a senior surgeon there, with an interruption of his clinical work for a one year research fellowship at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. In 2001 he completed his “Habilitation” (German post-doctoral university teaching qualification) and in 2003 he became a senior consultant. From 2009-2014 Falk was appointed professor and director of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at the University Hospital in Zurich. In 2014 he was appointed Professor and Chair of the Division of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Charite Berlin and became the medical director and director of the DHZB Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery of the Deutsches Herzzentrum Berlin.
His main areas of current clinical and academic research are in the field of endoscopic and minimally invasive cardiac surgery and image guided transcatheter therapies. He was co-founder of the Innovation Center for Computer Assisted Surgery (ICCAS) at the University of Leipzig funded by the German Ministry of Research and Education (BMBF). In Zürich he established numerous research collaborations with the ETH, among them “Zurich Heart” Project, an interdisciplinary project at the interface of medical engineering and surgery for the development of new components for mechanical circulatory assist systems. He is currently PI of the project which received intense funding over the last 5 years.
Falk is the author or coauthor of over 485 scientific publications (listed in Pubmed, Hirsh-Index 53) and serves in various functions (Board member, president, Committees) in numerous international professional societies (EACTS, ESC, DGTHG, SGHC, ISMICS and others). He serves on the editorial board of a number of journals in the field and on a number of International Guideline-Committees. He is Coauthour or Chairman of the current ESC ESC/EACTS Guidelines on myocardial revascularization, valvular heart disease and heart failure.
Professor Anthony Linegar completed undergraduate studies (MBChB) in 1984 at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. After a 2 year conscription period in the South African Medical Services at the SA Navy Medical Centre, Simon’s Town, Professor Linegar joined the registrar training programme of the University of Cape Town and became a Qualified Fellow of the South African College of Cardiothoracic Surgeons in 1992.
Thereafter Professor Linegar completed a fellowship year as Senior Registrar to Professor Peter Goldstraw at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London (UK). This formative period served to cement his interest in general thoracic surgery and provided the necessary platform for a career in thoracic surgery.
On returning to South Africa in 1994, Professor Linegar worked as a consultant in cardiac and thoracic surgery at Tygerberg Hospital (University Stellenbosch). He began private practice in General Thoracic Surgery and Surgical Critical Care during 1995, whilst continuing with a part-time State Hospital appointment at Tygerberg Hospital.
During 2004 he was invited to join the academic staff at the University of the free State in Bloemfontein for the purpose of developing general thoracic surgery for the region where hitherto, very little in the way of clinical service existed. There followed an intense period of time balancing clinical practice and family life between Cape Town and Bloemfontein. Finally Professor Linegar returned to full-time practice in Cape Town during 2010, and maintained an affiliation with the Department in Bloemfontein.
Professor Linegar completed a PhD with a thesis “A Model for the Development of Thoracic Surgery in central SA”. This was a mixed methods project which applied the principles of project management and systems theory to develop a clinical-strategic model based on a study of the factors influencing the performance gap between the burden of disease in thoracic surgery and actual surgical service provision. It included a systematic review of the complete SA thoracic surgical literature from 1955 – 2008. It culminated in the construction of a model for the development of thoracic services in central South Africa.
On returning to Cape Town, Professor Linegar was invited to head up thoracic surgery at Groote Schuur Hospital (UCT), and simultaneously joined the staff of COHSASA (Council for Health Services Accreditation SA) as a researcher in patient safety and was appointed a Director on the Board. This period came to an end in 2016 due to the pressure of work in clinical medicine.
Professor Linegar’s consistent career threads include (i) an interest in all aspects of thoracic surgical patient care with particular interests in thoracic oncology, oesophageal surgery and developing world inflammatory disease of the lung; (ii) the challenge of developing thoracic surgery within the context of the SA Healthcare System; (iii) the training of registrars at intermediate level in various disciplines, and particularly in preparing candidates for the final College examinations in Cardiothoracic surgery.
Professor John Pepper received his medical education at Clare College, Cambridge and Guy’s Hospital qualifying in 1971. He undertook his general surgical training in Leeds and his cardiothoracic training at the National Heart, London Chest, Guys and St.Thomas’ hospitals. In 1979 John was a research Fellow at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, USA. He was appointed consultant cardiothoracic surgeon to the London Chest Hospital in 1980. In 1982 he was appointed consultant cardiothoracic surgeon to St. George’s HospitaI where he set up a cardiac transplant programme in 1986. In 1990 he was invited to join Magdi Yacoub at Brompton and Harefield hospitals.
John has worked within the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust since 1990. Until June 2010 he was an active first operator with a busy adult cardiac surgical practice consisting of complex aortic valve and aortic disease in particular. He has been active in transplantation over 20 years and originally set up a programme at St.George’s Hospital in 1986.
In addition, John has been productive in clinical research, involved in or initiating ten randomised trials all of which were published in high impact journals. As the lead clinician for Aortic and Valve research for the cardiovascular BRU, he supervises two PhD students. John is also the lead clinician for the Aortic theme in the Institute of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science (ICMS) between Brompton and Liverpool. With a team of engineers and radiologists, he has developed a new prophylactic procedure for the Marfan syndrome which won a prize at the Royal Society in 2012. The operation is now being performed in ten centres outside the Brompton, six of which are outside the UK. The total number of procedures is 117 patients.
Since 2010 John has been chair of the Structural Heart Disease Care Group. During this time the TAVI team has continued to grow and the UK TAVI trial (NIHR-funded) is recruiting to a time-line in July 2017. He has contributed to the development of an Aortic Surgical Unit at Brompton. In 2011, he established a service for acute aortic dissection (AAD) across North West Thames Metropolitan Region between the three hospitals, Brompton, Harefield and Hammersmith, all linked to Imperial. This has been meticulously audited and there has been a significant reduction in the 30-day mortality for this serious, acute emergency from 22% to 11%.
Over the last eight years John has served on several trial steering committees (TSC) and drug safety committees and has chaired two TSCs. He works closely with the Imperial College Clinical trials Unit (ICTU) and currently chairs the ICTU peer review group meeting on alternate months. In July of last year he was appointed as one of three NIHR National Lead Clinicians for Cardiovascular Disease with a special remit for heart failure and surgery.
Fifteen years ago John ran a randomised trial to compare Fast Track management of coronary surgical patients against conventional care. This was published in Heart. Importantly, this gave rise to the Fit for-Surgery programme and the pre-admission clinics (PAC) which are now an integral part of the adult cardiac programme. Ten years ago John initiated the Heart Valve Clinic, staffed by senior nurses and supervised by him. This has enabled them to keep track of their patients and to intervene before the onset of a clinical crisis. It has also enabled several of the nurses to make national presentations and to win prizes. In March 2015 he gave the Tudor-Edwards lecture on “Innovation in Cardiac Surgery” at the annual meeting of the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland. In June 2015 John was awarded an OBE.
Outside of the Trust, John has been a member of the Council of the European Association of Cardio-thoracic Surgeons (EACTS) for the last four years, chair of the Acquired Cardiac Surgery Domain and now Director of the EACTS Academy which provides postgraduate courses on a rolling, annual basis in the headquarters at Windsor. He has served as a member of an ad hoc committee of the Royal College of Surgeons for Revalidation, and another RCS committee on post-CCT specialist training.
John is currently Director of Clinical Research at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS F Trust. Recently, he has become an Honorary Professor at Brunel University in recognition of work with which he has assisted on mechanical support of the circulation.