Cardiac Surgical Robotics Program

Sponsored by Intuitive Surgical Inc.

Program Overview

The AATS Foundation Cardiac Surgical Robotic Fellowship  provides an advanced educational experience in robotic cardiac surgery for up to 3 North American surgeon awardees, who will bring expanded knowledge back to their home institution. These trainees will be required to complete multi-step pre-requisite training and spend time observing a minimum of five cardiac robotic cases at a well-established training center, learning to do robotic mitral valve operations. A proctor, either from the host institution or from another well-established institution, will be identified and will join the awardee on the observational visit to the host institution. This will be followed by a minimum of five onsite proctoring sessions at the awardee’s home institution along with remote mentoring sessions. 

The program focuses on cardiac surgeons with experience in repairing mitral valves. The award will help offset travel and lodging expenses for awardees to visit a host institution and for the selected proctor to visit a host institution and awardee’s home institution. Applicants are allowed to recommend who they would like to serve as their proctor and which host institution they would like to visit. This opportunity will provide an immersive experience, enabling the best chance of continued success. 

Host Surgeons and Institutions
A number of host surgeons/institutions have partnered with the AATS Foundation on this initiative as listed below.
  • Marc Gillinov, MD 
    Cleveland Clinic 
  • Michael Halkos, MD 
    Emory University at Midtown 
  • Eugene Grossi, MD 
    New York University School of Medicine 
  • Vinay Badhwar, MD 
    West Virginia University  
  • Joseph Dearani, MD 
    Mayo Clinic


To be eligible for this award, applicants and their institutions should meet the following minimum qualifying requirements.

Candidate eligibility:

  • Several years into their cardiac surgical practice
  • Appropriate credentials for state licensing and malpractice coverage 
  • A significant number of mitral valve repairs with optimal outcomes
    o Attending surgeon: >3-5 years 
    o Mitral valve repairs: >25 per year
    o Mitral valve repair experience:  >100 operations
    o Excellent mitral valve repair outcomes

Institutional commitment & eligibility:

  • da Vinci Xi robot availability: schedule up to three operations per week
  • Team training (time and expenses - exclusive of fellowship) 
  • Committed cardiac surgical robotic team: 
    o Anesthesiologists
    o Perfusionists
    o Surgical assistants 
    o Nursing staff
  • Support for purchase of other required equipment and supplies 

Institutional mitral surgery volume:

  • Mitral valve operations: >50 per year
  • Mitral valve repair operations: >25 per year
  • Cardiac surgery operations: > 500 per year

Application Process

In addition to a formal online application, candidates are required to upload the following materials:

  • Curriculum Vitae 
  • Letter from the hospital CEO, indicating support for a robotic cardiac surgical program
  • Letters of support from both the department chair and division chief
  • Case log summaries indicating total cases, mitral repairs, and mitral replacements for both the institution and applicant for the past three years
  • One to two-page narrative to include: 
    o What they hope to accomplish during the program 
    o How they plan to apply this experience to their clinical practice
    o How this fellowship will expand their professional development 
    o A statement of future long-term career goals
  • Awardee must submit a final report to the AATS Foundation at the conclusion of their experience. The selected candidate will be required to submit a formal assessment of how the training impacted their career and the success of their institution in setting up a cardiac robotics program. AATS Foundation would also request an assessment from the proctor.  
  • Awardee must indicate what system their institution uses.

    Review Process

    Applications will be evaluated by the AATS Foundation Fellowship Review Committee, which will include surgeon experts in robotic cardiac surgery.
    Estimated costs per awardee include the following:
    Up to $6,000 Includes: Airfare to/from host site and lodging expenses: up to $5,000
    Airfare to/from Intuitive training facility and lodging expenses: up to $1,000


    Applications available starting September 1st, 2019.