Vivek V. Pillai, MBBS, MS, MCh

Sree Chithra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences &Technology (SCTIMST)
Kerala, India

Vivek Pillai works in a government hospital in India, where many people have existing rheumatic disease and the incidence of coronary and heart valve diseases is growing. We operate on 2000 patients annually - neonates to very elderly people - most would be denied cardiac surgery due to lack of funds. During his fellowship, he became familiar with TAVR, mitral clip and other interventional surgeries. He also observed and learned OPCAB and minimally invasive valve operations.
The skills I acquired…will aid in early detection and timely, optimal interventions for SCTIMST cardiac surgical patients.
SCTIMST has set up a transcatheter valve replacement unit with help from the Emory team and industry.

Darshan Reddy, MD

University of KwaZulu
Natal, South Africa

Darshan Reddy’s CT surgery department serves an indigent population, many of whom suffer from rheumatic disease. Each year, it does some 150 adult and congenital valve replacements.
Management of anticoagulation after valve surgery remains a challenge, and our rate of mitral valve repair is extremely low due to lack of technical expertise. During the fellowship, he participated in 21 mitral valve repairs and one aortic. He also learned the complexities and nuances of valve repair in rheumatic mitral valve disease.
I’ve performed several successful surgeries and hope Dr. Chotivatanapong can come to South Africa to do live video cases to benefit our medical centers.
Sponsored by Edwards LifeSciences Foundation

Every Heartbeat Matters Valve Fellowship Program

About the Fellowship
The AATS Foundation is proud to have received a grant from Edwards Lifesciences Foundation for this fellowship as part of its Every Heartbeat Matters initiativeThe mission of the Edwards program is to reduce the prevalence of valvular heart diseases (VHD) by enhancing education, screening and treatment for one million underserved people throughout the world — individuals who have a health disparity as defined by the CDC* and lack awareness of, or access to, medically appropriate heart valve-related healthcare. 

Fellowship Goal
The fellowship’s goal is to enhance the heart valve disease knowledge and skill training for surgeons around the world who treat individuals with limited access to healthcare. Surgeons may apply for up to three months of study visiting a host institution for advanced VHD training and education to acquire skills that can be clinically implemented in their daily practice.

The Fellowship curriculum will cover non-thrombogenic valve surgery, focusing on advanced training in valve reconstruction and use of biological valve replacements (surgical and transcatheter) for:
  •  Degenerative mitral valve disease
  • Rheumatic mitral valve disease
  • Aortic stenosis/regurgitation
  • Functional tricuspid regurgitation
  • Endocarditis
  • Training Center

The applicant is responsible for identifying a training center whose curriculum includes a sufficient amount of mitral, aortic and tricuspid valve surgery to fulfill his/her Fellowship goals. S/he must include a letter of support from the institution chosen.

Eligibility Criteria
To apply for the fellowship, an applicant must:
  • Applicant must be have completed his/her cardiac and/or cardiothoracic surgery training.
  • Meet all necessary prerequisites for travel to and from the training center such as a visa and license requirements.
  • Provide information on the number of underserved patients s/he cares for annually.

Application Process

Fellowship submissions will be open annually. Each surgeon must fill out the formal application and include the following in his/her submission:
  • Curriculum vitae
  • If serving in a hospital/medical school — a letter from his/her chief/chair.
  • A letter of support from the proposed training center.
  • A detailed plan outline for the proposed training, including with a timeline.
  • A one-page narrative describing: Learning goals while at the proposed training center as well as the relationship of the planned course of study to his/her prior work and professional goals.
  • A detailed outline of his/her current practice with an estimate of the number of underserved patients s/he treats annually, which includes:
    -Types of diseases currently treated.
    -An estimate of the number of VHD patients s/he may serve after training is completed.

Post-Fellowship Reporting

Every Fellowship recipient will be required to provide two reports detailing benefits of his/her training. The first report is due 30 days after completion of the Fellowship. It will discuss how the program enhanced the surgeon’s skill level and treatment of underserved patients. 
The second report is due one year later. It will cover the elements in the first report, as well as offer qualitative and quantitative analysis of treatment improvements and list the number of underserved patients receiving care.

Review Process and Award Funding
The AATS Foundation’s Fellowship Review Committee will review and grade all applicants based on the award criteria, and include the level at which the Fellowship will impact the underserved populations s/he serves.

The Fellowship will provide annual awards to defray travel and living expenses.
There will be two funding levels:
  • Level One — Up to $7,500 (up to one month)
  • Level Two — Up to $15,000 (between one and three months)

The 2019 application deadline has passed.