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James L. Cox Fellowship in Atrial Fibrillation Surgery

Applicant Requirements: Deadline ends at 11:59pm Eastern on 12/1/2024

Career Stage: Early Career Surgeons

Program Type: Fellowship

Specialty: Cardiac

Status: Upcoming

Opens: September 1, 2024

Deadline: December 2, 2024

Program Overview

The specific learning objectives are to provide surgeons with the foundational knowledge of the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation, the rationale for surgical treatment and the ability to perform the atrial fibrillation correction procedure over a range of surgical approaches. As a result, the provided training and unique mentorship opportunity will assist fellows so that they may ascend to leadership roles in surgical atrial fibrillation treatment over the course of their careers.


  • Pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation.
  • Electrophysiologic mechanisms of atrial fibrillation.
  • Key cardiac anatomy associated with atrial fibrillation and surgical treatment.
  • Foundational and contemporary peer-reviewed literature on the disease and treatment options.
  • Heart Rhythm Society Consensus Guidelines for atrial fibrillation Classification and reporting success.
  • Diagnosis and screening for atrial fibrillation in patients referred for structural heart procedures.
  • Co-morbidities associated with atrial fibrillation.
  • The impact of lesion set and energy source on outcomes.
  • Different approaches and considerations for concomitant and sole therapy procedures.
  • Decision making and surgical approaches to treatment.
  • Left atrial appendage (LAA) management and the concept of atrial fibrillation-related stroke arising from the LAA.
  • Postoperative care of patients including rhythm assessment.
  • Collaborating with cardiologists and electrophysiologists in atrial fibrillation treatment.
  • Host surgeons will lead didactic instruction on each of the topics and may engage fellow cardiothoracic surgeons, cardiologists, electrophysiologists, or atrial fibrillation nurses to assist, as appropriate, to further advance the cardiothoracic fellow’s learning.
  • Recognizing the importance of restoration of sinus rhythm and the correlation with increase in cardiac output
  • Consequence of undertreatment and impact on life expectancy
  • Sickest patients | Setting expectations | (Burden reduction | Symptom relief)

The cardiothoracic fellow will be credentialed, if possible, at their host center so that they may scrub in with the host surgeon to facilitate the application of their training to the extent possible. Please note, certain host sites are observation only.

Host Institutions

  • Gorav Ailawadi, MD, University of Michigan
  • Vinay Badhwar, MD, WVU Heart and Vascular Institute
  • Thomas M. Beaver, MD, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
  • Ralph Damiano, Jr., MD, Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes Jewish Hospital
  • Gan Dunnington, Adventist Health St. Helena Hospital, California
  • Marc Gerdisch, MD, Franciscan St. Francis Hospital
  • Vigneshwar Kasirajan, MD, Pauley Heart Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System
  • Armin Kiankhooy, MD, Cedars-Sinai Cardiac Surgery at Huntington Health
  • Eric Lehr, MD, Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, WA
  • Patrick McCarthy, MD, and James L. Cox, MD, Northwestern University
  • Edward G. Soltesz, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
  • Vinod Thourani, Piedmont Heart Institute, Atlanta, Georgia

Additionally, recipients will be reimbursed for airfare and lodging (up to $1,500) to attend a future AATS Annual Meeting.

View James L. Cox Fellowship in Atrial Fibrillation Surgery recipients

Eligibility Requirements

  • Candidate is in their final year of training with plans to complete their fellowship prior to the start of a formal appointment or has been in practice less than three years.
  • Candidate meets all necessary licensure and credentialing criteria required by the host center.
  • Fluency in English is mandatory.

Application Process

  • Applicants should provide a curriculum vitae with a full description of their surgical experience.
  • Letter of support from their chief/chair at their current institution or their training program.*
  • One to two page narrative to include:
    • What they hope to accomplish during their fellowship.
    • How they will utilize the skills they have learned at their home institution, if applicable.
    • Relationship of the planned study to the applicant’s prior experience, preparation and professional goals.
    • Statement of future career goals.
  • Identify the number of atrial fibrillation cases observed during training or in current practice.

*For those looking to send letters of support for the candidate directly to the AATS Foundation, please email

Please note that any award payments made to foreign individuals may be subject to federal tax withholding of up to 30% if a recipient is traveling to the United States.

Review Process

The AATS Foundation’s North American Early Career Scholarship Committee will review all applications and recommend recipients to be presented to AATS Foundation Board of Directors for a final decision. Applications will be graded on all aspects of the award criteria.

All applicants will be notified with an official letter from the AATS Foundation within 2-3 months of the program deadline. Should you have any questions regarding your status prior to receiving this notification, please contact

Depending on the intended time spent at the host institution as described in the application, a selection of one of the following two levels will be awarded:

  • Level One: Awards of up to $3,750 for two weeks of study for domestic trainees or $5,000 for two weeks of study for international trainees.
  • Level Two: Awards of up to $7,500 for four weeks of study for domestic trainees or $10,000 for four weeks of study for international trainees.

**Please note that any award payments made to foreign individuals may be subject to federal tax withholding of up to 30% if a recipient is traveling to the United States.

Supported By

Program currently closed:

Program will open September 1, 2024.