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About the AATS

Founded in 1917, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), along with its philanthropic arm, the AATS Foundation, has sought to advance the field of cardiothoracic surgery. It is an international organization whose members have a proven record of distinction within the specialty and have made significant contributions to the care and treatment of cardiothoracic disease throughout the world.


The Mission of the AATS has evolved since its founding over 100 years ago to its present goal to Promote Scholarship, Innovation, and Leadership for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. Its leadership and members aspire to emulate the Association's core values of Leadership, Education, Research and Innovation, Excellence in Patient Care, and Mentoring.


The AATS Promotes Scholarship, Innovation, and Leadership in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in a variety of ways;

Science and Education

The Association demonstrates its commitment to science, education, and research through its Annual Meeting and the specialty- specific meetings it organizes globally, as well as the publication of its six official journals, the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Operative Techniques in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Annual, JTCVS Open, and JTCVS Techniques. These scientific publications are augmented by a series of sponsored and co-sponsored educational symposia and courses around the globe.


AATS research initiatives are supported by the AATS Foundation and include the AATS Research Scholarship and the Surgical Investigator Program. Since 1985, the AATS Research Scholarship has annually supported a two-year scholarship program for young faculty pursuing an academic career. The Scholarship has recognized several pioneers in cardiothoracic surgery by naming the award in their honor. Some of the leaders of today were early recipients of the Scholarship. The Surgical Investigator program supports cutting edge research and future leaders in the field. The two-year grant supports young cardiothoracic surgeons in innovative clinical or translational research on topics including outcomes research, robotically assisted surgery, minimally invasive surgery, and other applications of new and innovative technologies in cardiothoracic surgery.


In 2008, the AATS Leadership Academy was formed to provide a forum for those members of the association aspiring to be Division Chiefs or Department Chairs. Annually since its inception, the Academy has provided a one-on-one attendee to faculty ratio experience for those who will become the leaders of the specialty and provides a venue to discuss the administrative, interpersonal, and mentoring skills necessary to serve in a leadership position within their institution and the surgical community at large.

Member for a Day - Medical students, early career surgeons, and physician scientists can network and build relationships within the cardiothoracic surgical community while gaining insight into the specialty through the AATS Member for a Day Program.


When a group of physicians met on June 7, 1917, they knew that in order to make any progress in surgery of the thorax, physicians who specialized in thoracic surgery would need to have discussions, work together, and build upon each other’s work. That day, those individuals set the foundation for the American Association for Thoracic Surgery as well as the field of cardiothoracic surgery that we know today.

After AATS founder, Dr. Willy Meyer, presented a paper at the 1913 Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association on the first successful esophageal resection for cancer, no discussion followed. There was not a single question. This may not be surprising since few surgeons focused on the thorax and most doubted that successful thoracic surgery could even be achieved. Instead of being discouraged, the experience inspired Dr. Meyer to bring together not just surgeons, but a range of healthcare professionals who could contribute their knowledge to advancing the field. That attitude led to the name of this organization as one not “of thoracic surgeons” but “for thoracic surgery.” For more than 100 years, the AATS has sought to continue to advance the field through promoting scholarship, innovation, and leadership in cardiothoracic surgery.