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Our Team


Meet Our Director

Jennifer Lawton, M.D.

Dr. Jennifer Lawton is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Cardiac Surgery Research Laboratory. She joined Johns Hopkins in 2016 after spending 15 years at Washington University. Dr. Lawton’s laboratory as been funded by the American Heart Association, the Thoracic Surgery Foundation (Nina Braunwald Award), and the NIH.

The laboratory focuses on developing novel agents to reduce neurological and myocardial injury during ischemia imposed by cardiac surgery.

Learn More About Dr. Lawton's Lab
cardiac surgery research - Image of Dr. Jennifer Lawton

Cardiac Surgery Faculty Researchers

  • Hamza Aziz, M.D.

    Clinical research area: Development of ascending aortic aneurysms

    Dr. Aziz's research efforts focus on understanding the development of ascending aortic aneurysm. Previously, Dr. Aziz had found that a gene responsible for cell guidance and migration, ROBO4, was mutated in 1-2% of patients with bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) and ascending aortic aneurysm (AsAA). Animal models with mutated ROBO4 showed mild phenotype of BAV/AsAA. To expand on this research. Dr. Aziz works with a collaborator at the Johns Hopkins Institute of Genetic Medicine to develop a technique for single cell RNA sequencing to determine why the majority of thoracic aortic aneurysms have spatial localization to either root or ascending.
    cardiac surgery research - image of Dr. Aziz
  • Chun Woo Choi, M.D.

    Basic science and clinical research area: Porcine ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) model

    Dr. Chun (Dan) W. Choi's research focuses on improvement for clinical care through extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (EMCO) treatment. There are two main objectives for Dr. Choi's research:
    • Studying the impact of non-pulsatile blood flow on cerebral vascular biology. Autoregulation of vascular system is an important physiologic function that is adaptive to stress, injury, inflammation, and other major changes to the body. Autoregulation of cerebral arteries have been shown to have an important role in cardiac arrest patients and their survival. The role of cerebral autoregulation in ECPR (ECMO-CPR) for cardiac arrest patients who are refractory to conventional resuscitative efforts, with respect to neurologic outcomes and survival are currently being investigated.
    • The changes in cardiovascular hemodynamic loading conditions with non-pulsatile retrograde arterial flow of peripheral ECMO is also currently being researched. Experimental studies have shown that left ventricle afterload increases with peripheral ECMO. Measuring afterload within the heart chamber requires invasive procedures. Dr. Choi is studying non- and less-invasive modalities to estimate or quantify loading conditions of the heart.
    cardiac surgery research - image of Dr. Chun Woo Choi
  • Ahmet Kilic, M.D.

    Clinical research area: Heart Failure

    Dr. Ahmet Kilic joined the Johns Hopkins Division of Cardiac Surgery as an associate professor in 2017. Kilic’s areas of clinical research include advancing heart failure surgical treatment with a special interest in heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support. Kilic's research is focused on improving surgical treatment for heart failure and patient outcomes.
    cardiac surgery research - image of Dr. Ahmet Kilic
  • Stefano Schena, M.D.

    Clinical research area: Patient outcomes, secondary effects following first and repeated exposure of patients to heparin in cardiac surgery and novel technologies in structural heart valve therapy.

    Dr. Schena's research investigates long-term outcomes and quality of life after cardiac surgery for patients including the racial and gender disparities in cardiac surgery. He is also interested in the role of socioeconomic status in patients undergoing TAVR. Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia (HIT) and the response to repeated heparin exposure in cardiac surgery is also investigated. He also investigates the role of patient re-exploration for postoperative bleeding as a marker of operative quality. Dr. Schena is interested in the use of advanced technologies and artificial intelligence in cardiac surgery through the use of:
    • Computed simulation and monitoring of transcathether prosthetic valves via in situ pressure sensors.
    • Computed simulation assessment of aortic shear stress in patients undergoing surgical and transcatheter aottic valve replacement.
    cardiac surgery research - image of Dr. Stefano Schena
  • Marc Steven Sussman, M.D.

    Clinical research area: Opiate addiction after cardiac surgery

    Dr. Sussman is currently investigating opiate addiction following cardiac surgery. Using retrospective data, Dr. Sussman discovered that for many cardiac surgeries that long term opiate use was associated with increased opiate use early after the procedure. It was also found that the incidence of long term opiate use was the highest in the southern United States. He is now conducting a prospective study to evaluate how well pain is controlled and the incidence of long term opiate use in patients who are given less opiate medicine early after their cardiac procedure.
    cardiac surgery research - image of Dr. Marc Sussman
  • Glenn Whitman, M.D.

    Clinical research area: Improving patient outcomes and quality insurance for cardiothoracic surgery and ICU hospitalization.

    Dr. Whitman's research focuses on quality outcomes and improving patient management for patients during and after their procedure, particularly in the setting of an ICU. He is currently working on identifying and eliminating intraoperative causes of acute kidney injury during cardiac surgery through the use of urinary biomarkers. Dr. Sussman is investigating the relationship between delivered O2, lactate and acute kidney injury during cardiac surgery.
    cardiac surgery research - Image of Dr. Glenn Whitman

Surgery Residents

  • Eric Etchill, M.D.

    cardiac surgery research - image of Dr. Eric Etchill
  • Katherine A. Giuliano, M.D.

    cardiac surgery research - image of Katherine Giuliano

Lab Staff

  • Melissa Jones, Senior Lab Coordinator

    Melissa’s administrative responsibilities include purchasing, planning, organizing and scheduling the lab’s experiments, training classes and meetings. She also helps the surgical residents write budgets, protocols and grant proposals. Her lab duties include helping set up experiments, run equipment, collect, record and maintain data. Melissa has been with the lab since 1987 and serves as its contact person.

    Melissa has the task of caring for the Blalock violet.

    cardiac surgery research - image of melissa jones
  • Sean Kearney, Research Specialist

    Sean came to the lab in 2017 after earning several years of research experience at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Maryland School Medicine. He provides a diverse skill set pertaining to the models performed in the Cardiac Research Lab. His daily duties include preparing and maintaining the surgical lab area and equipment, setting up and preparing the surgical instruments and supplies, and performing or assisting with the surgeries, administering anesthesia, pre- and postop care, and recovery. He helps acquire and maintain surgery records, controlled substances, and equipment inventory. Sean also participates in various facility accreditation audits such as ACUC, DEA, and Health and Safety.

    Sean also has the task of caring for the Blalock violet.

    cardiac surgery research - Image of Sean Kearney
  • Jie Wang, M.D., Research Associate

    cardiac surgery research - Image of Dr. Jie Wang


Researcher NameDivision
Brian O'Rourke, Ph.D.Cardiology
Mary Beth Brady, M.D.Anesthesiology
Jeffrey Michael Dodd-o, M.D., Ph.D.Anesthesiology
Brian Cho, M.D.Anesthesiology
Mary Ann Wilson, Ph.D.Neurology and Neuroscience
Lee J. Martin, Ph.D.Pathology and Neuroscience
Joseph Scafidi, M.S., D.O.Neurology
Mary E. Blue, Ph.D.Neurology and Neuroscience
Kannan Rangaramanujam, M.S., Ph.D.Ophthalmology and Nanomedicine
Lauren Leigh Jantzie, Ph.D.Neurosurgery
Dody Robinson, M.D.Neurosurgery



Past Residents

View some of our past surgery residents involved in the Johns Hopkins Cardiac Surgery Research Lab.

NameYear Started
George J. Magovern Jr., M.D.1982
Steven F. Bolling, M.D.1983
Alfred S. Casale, M.D.1983
Sara J. Shumway, M.D.1984
Stuart R. Scott, M.D.1984
Duke E. Cameron, M.D.1985
Bruce R. Rosengard, M.D.1986
Timothy S. Hall, M.D.1986
Charles D. Fraser, M.D.1987
Wen Cheng, M.D.1987
Peter S. Greene, M.D.1988
Peter J. Horneffer, M.D.1988
Patrick Devaleria, M.D.1989
R.C. Stewart Finney, M.D.1989
Michael A. Acker, M.D.1990
A. Marc Gillinov, M.D.1991
William Curtis, M.D.1991
Peter W. Cho, M.D.1991
Mark J. Redmond, M.D.1991
Kirk J. Fleischer, M.D.1992
Malcolm V. Brock, M.D.1992
Elaine Tseng, M.D.1994
Jorge Salazar, M.D.1997
John Doty, M.D.1997
Peter Walinsky, M.D.1999
Jay Shake, M.D.2000
Eric Peck, M.D.2000
Stephen Cattaneo, M.D.2001
David Caparrelli, M.D.2001
Torin Fitton, , M.D.2002
Chris Barreiro, M.D.2004
Jason Williams, M.D.2005
Lois Nwakanma, M.D.2006
Eric Weiss, M.D.2007
Geoff Allen, M.D.2008
George Arnaoutakis, M.D.2009
Tim George, M.D.2010
Claude Beaty, M.D.2011
Joshua C. Grimm, M.D.2013
J. Trent Magruder, M.D.2014
Todd Crawford, M.D.2015
Cecilia Lui, M.D.2017
Xun Zhou, M.D.2017
Charles Fraser, M.D.2017

Clinical Research

Learn more about our current research projects and clinical research that improves patient outcomes.

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