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Valerie Rusch Mentored Career Development Award

An Honoring Our Mentors Program

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

Career Stage: Early Career Surgeons

Program Type: Career Development Award

Specialty: Multi-specialty

Status: Upcoming

Opens: September 1, 2024

Deadline: December 2, 2024

Program Overview

The AATS Foundation Valerie Rusch Mentored Career Development Award provides support for women cardiothoracic surgeons and the development of cardiothoracic expertise in low-to-middle-income-countries (LMIC – as defined by the World Bank’s income classifications by country). This career development award can be used for female North American thoracic and cardiac surgeons or trainees to pursue a research project in a LMIC or for a female thoracic or cardiac surgeon or trainee from a LMIC to support clinical observational training in North America, translational research, or the opportunity to have a visiting North American cardiac or thoracic surgeon-mentor provide training, education, or research support at the applicant’s LMIC home institution.

View Valerie Rusch Mentored Career Development Award recipients

Acceptance into the program will include the following*:

  • Up to $10,000 to allow for travel for longitudinal visits, intended as a visiting professorship (Rusch Traveling Professorship)
  • Up to $15,000 would support a cardiac or thoracic surgeon completing a 1-3 month observational clinical fellowship (Rusch Traveling Fellow)
  • Up to $50,000 would provide partial salary support for a 1-year translational research fellowship (Rusch Research Fellow)

Please note that not all facets listed above are required for acceptance into the program, applicant may apply for 1-3 parts of the program, identifying within their application what aspect or combined aspects best meets their career goals. Additionally, 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.

Program Goal

To support diversity, disseminate science and practice in thoracic and cardiac surgery in LMIC. This career development award is designed to have a significant impact on cardiothoracic surgeons, the specialty, and LMIC with the selected awardee sharing their findings upon completion of the program.


The applicant is required to contact program of their choice and obtain a letter of agreement from host surgeon to be submitted with their application.

Duration of the Program

  • Longitudinal visits of between 5-10 days
  • Observational fellowship of between 1-3 months
  • Research fellowship of up to 1 year

Eligibility Requirements

  • Practicing female thoracic and cardiac surgeons, or those enrolled in thoracic or cardiac surgery training programs. The program strongly encourages applicants from LMIC.
  • Longitudinal visits with thoracic or cardiac surgery mentor: Letter of support from surgeon mentor.

  • Observational fellowship: Eligible to enter country of proposed observational fellowship and letter of support including observership details from host program.

  • Research fellowship: Eligible for employment in country of proposed research fellowship, letter of support including research plan from host program.

Application Process

  • Applicants should provide a curriculum vitae with a full description of their surgical experience.
  • Letter of support from Surgeon Host or Mentor outlining plans for clinical observership and/or longitudinal visits.
  • One-page statement describing the relationship of the proposed research and/or fellowship to the applicant’s career goals and how this award will allow the applicant to impact health care globally.
  • In collaboration with the host institution, description of the proposed research, including background, specific aims, significance, and research plan (5 page limit).**
  • In collaboration with the host institution, description of research facilities.**
  • Detailed budget (up to 10% of the total funding can be used for indirect costs and/or overhead assessments. If selected, grant will be paid to the recipient's institution where research will take place for support of salary, research supplies, travel, and other legitimate academic expenses).**
  • Disclosure of other currently funded research projects and pending applications for support.**
  • Letter of support from the Surgical Chief or Director of Laboratory where research will be conducted addressing his/her endorsement of proposal and feasibility of the research proposal being carried out.* **
  • Most significant reprint.**

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

**Required only for candidates who are requesting funding for research support.

Review Process

The AATS Foundation’s review committee will review all applications and notify candidates of 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

At the conclusion of the fellowship, a final report is required to be submitted to the Foundation Board of Directors and any publications emanating from the research must include acknowledgment of the award.

Supported By

Program currently closed:

Program will open September 1, 2024.