D. Craig Miller, MD
David Craig Miller, 88th president of The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), was born on
December 3, 1946, in San Francisco to Dr Charles ''Bebe'' and Helen Miller. After spending the first 9 years of his life in the San Francisco Peninsula, Miller's father grew weary of the crowds and moved the family to the mountains in northern California. Miller grew up in Redding, where he spent his formative years alternating between being a bibliophile, a high school athlete, and a farmhand on his father's ranch. Miller broke a lot of bones as a youngster on the rodeo circuit, a sport that epitomized the adventurous spirit that would dominate his future career path and extracurricular interests as an adult. Miller attended Dartmouth College for 3 years and entered Stanford University School of Medicine in 1968 without an undergraduate degree (as was then permissible). Subsequently his bachelors degree in basic medical science was awarded by Stanford in 1969 and his MD in 1972. Under the spell of Dr Norman Shumway (67th AATS president), Miller decided to pursue a career in cardiovascular surgery.
Miller also credits Drs Randall Griepp and Lawrence Cohn (79th AATS president) with guiding his early career. Dr Griepp was a young faculty member at Stanford who helped convince Dr Shumway to give Miller a chance, and Dr Cohn was Shumway's chief resident during Miller's formative medical school years. Miller then spent 4 years in general surgical training, 1 year in peripheral vascular surgery, and 18 months in adult cardiothoracic surgery. In January of 1978, he joined the faculty of Stanford. Sometime along the way, Miller dropped his first given name, becoming ''Craig'' or, to his colleagues and residents, ''DCM.''
As a young faculty member with training in both vascular and cardiac surgery, Miller developed an interest and expertise in aortic surgery, in part influenced by Dr Griepp. Miller's clinical proficiency spanned from the aortic root to the aortic bifurcation, and occasionally beyond. In 1983, Miller became the principal investigator of National Institutes of Health grant R01 HL 29589, ''Ventricular Dynamics from Surgically Inserted Markers,'' a grant that was continuously funded under his direction for the next 26 years. Miller's laboratory, affectionately referred to as the ''Miller Lab'' both at Stanford and throughout the country, used miniature radiopaque, implantable myocardial markers to investigate the subtleties of biventricular function
and mitral valve physiology. Miller was the recipient of numerous other R01 grants and VA Merit Review grants through the years, a remarkable feat for the often busiest surgeon at Stanford for nearly 4 decades.
Miller's reputation as an aortic and valve surgeon was enhanced by his skill as a teacher both in and out of the
operating room. Eschewing conventional practice in complex aortic reconstruction, he remained on the assistant's side of the operating table, calmly and deliberatively instructing his residents and thereby providing true experience and confidence in his trainees. Miller insisted that his trainees consider all aspects of the procedure, and many a resident, after making an error in technique or approach, can still hear the gentle rebuke, ''Close your eyes, count to 10, and think!'' This admonition, however, was not necessarily reserved exclusively for his trainees; it was often self-directed.
Miller is the Thelma and Henry Doelger Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery, Emeritus at Stanford.