Jessen appointed new chairman of cardiovascular, thoracic programs

By LaKisha Ladson / Holidays 2010

Dr. Michael Jessen, a cardiac surgeon with clinical, academic and administrative leadership experience, has been appointed chairman of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery.

“Dr. Jessen is very well-known to this institution, and we are confident that his background and experience will make him an outstanding leader to the department and UT Southwestern Medical School,” said Dr. Greg Fitz, executive vice president for academic affairs, provost and dean of the medical school.

Dr. Jessen, a UT Southwestern faculty member since 1990 and previous vice chairman of the department, said now is an exciting time to lead, especially considering the medical center’s direction.

Dr. Michael Jessen

“Our department is largely clinical, although we also have a research emphasis and an important teaching mission, so we fit well with the university’s renewed focus on clinical excellence,” he said. “Also, the institution is renowned for basic research, and this is the place to be when our translational work brings new developments to fruition.”

Dr. Jessen said his goals for the department include increasing clinical volumes and developing faculty to focus on discrete areas of cardiothoracic surgery.

“That tends to breed more excellence into the program,” he said. “It’s also valuable for the training program.”

Dr. Jessen’s career interests include clinical outcomes, cardiac metabolism, cardiopulmonary bypass and resident education. He has directed the thoracic surgery residency program since 1998 and has been a member of the university’s promotions and tenure committee and its heart and lung transplant team.

“The Heart and Lung Transplant Program is a very important part of our department,” he said. “It’s a good example of a successful, multidisciplinary approach to care and how future disciplines need to evolve based on a team concept.”

Dr. Fitz noted the robustness and quality of the clinical service that Dr. Jessen has directed during his tenure. Dr. Jessen is also chief of the cardiothoracic surgery program at the Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System and site director of numerous clinical studies on coronary artery revascularization.

Dr. Jessen’s basic research focuses on myocardial metabolism under conditions encountered during cardiac surgery, as well as strategies for heart and lung preservation for transplantation.

“Collectively, these studies will improve patient outcomes during bypass surgery and organ availability for transplantation,” Dr. Fitz said. “The studies have been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association and other agencies.”

Dr. Jessen is a recipient of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Research Award from the American Heart Association. He earned his medical degree from the University of Manitoba, Canada, where he also completed a surgery internship and residency, followed by a fellowship in surgical research and a residency in thoracic surgery at Duke University Medical Center.

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Dr. Fitz holds the Nadine and Tom Craddick Distinguished Chair in Medical Science and the Atticus James Gill, M.D., Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Jessen holds the Robert Tucker Hayes Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Frank M. Ryburn Jr. Distinguished Chair in Cardiothoracic Surgery and Transplantation.