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Public Profile

W. Randolph Chitwood, Jr., MD
W. Randolph Chitwood, Jr., MD

    Dr. Randolph Chitwood is a native of Virginia and now a naturalized North Carolinian, the son and grandson of Southwestern Virginia doctors and nurses. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and received his medical degree from the University of Virginia. After medical school, he completed the surgical residency at Duke University Medical Center under Dr. David C. Sabiston, who led a surgical team in the 1960s in performing an early coronary bypass operation that paved the way for modern coronary-bypass surgery.

    At Duke Dr. Chitwood spent 10 years training in general and cardiothoracic surgery, as well as basic science research. He was the first house staff member at Duke to be selected to Alpha Omega Alpha. After his chief residency at Duke, he was selected to begin and head the new cardiac surgery program at the East Carolina University School of Medicine. Because of his prolific publication record as a resident and clinical acumen, his initial appointment was as a full professor of surgery. Except for a two-year hiatus as the chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Kentucky, he has spent his entire career at East Carolina University and Pitt County Memorial Hospital, where also he served as chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1995 to 2003.

    In 2003, he was promoted to senior associate vice chancellor of health sciences, in charge of the development of a new specialty hospital and research institute, the East Carolina Heart Institute (ECHI). In 2007, as founder and director if the Institute, he was named the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Distinguished Chair.

    Dr. Chitwood is a leading international pioneer in minimally invasive and robotic heart surgery. The Robotic Surgical Center at East Carolina University has trained over 350 surgeons worldwide. He or his team has personally performed the first robotic heart operations in ten countries. Currently, Dr. Chitwood's research activities relate to myocardial preservation, simulation in surgery, and endoscopic/robotic cardiac surgery. He was principle investigator of the FDA robotic mitral valve trials that led to approval for this use in the United States.

    He is a member of 25 professional societies, which include election to the American College of Surgeons, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, the Society of University Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the American College of Cardiology, and the Cardiac Surgery Biology Club. He has been on many of the most important committees in each of these societies. He is past-president of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. He is past-president and a founding member of the International Society of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery as well as past-president of the Society for Heart Valve Disease, the North Carolina Chapter of the American Heart Association, and Vice President of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association.

    He has served on the editorial boards of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, the Journal of Cardiac Surgery, the Journal of Heart Valve Disease, the Asian Annals of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, CTS Net, the Heart Surgery Forum, Chest, the American Heart Journal, and the Journal of Robotic Surgery. Currently, he is on the editorial board of the Journal of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery. He also reviews for Circulation, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. In the past, he has authored over 175 peer reviewed scientific and clinical articles, as well as many book chapters and several monographs. He is in the process of writing a book entitled Atlas of Robotic Cardiothoracic Surgery.

    He is a busy, active cardiac surgeon and has special expertise in complex valvular surgery, including mitral repair as well as aortic valve and cardiac rhythm surgery. He continually writes and lectures internationally on innovative techniques in minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery. He has given over 50 visiting professor and invited lectures. Today, he is the world's leader in robotic mitral valve surgery.

    In 2003, he was elected to Fellowship in the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons of England, an honor to which few Americans are selected. In 2004, he received the O. Max Gardner Award from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors that recognizes a faculty member of the 16 system institutions, who during the scholastic year, made the greatest contribution to the "welfare of the human race." It is the only statewide honor given to faculty members by the UNC Board of Governors. In 2005 he received the national Mended Hearts - Harken Award, which recognizes excellence in the field of cardiovascular medicine. In the same year he received the National Phi Kappa Phi Scholar Award for outstanding teaching, research, practice, and service.

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