You are here

Dr. Leonard Girardi Appointed Chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and Cardiothoracic Surgeon-in-Chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

WCM placeholder

New York (October 2, 2015) — Renowned heart surgeon Dr. Leonard Girardi has been named chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and cardiothoracic surgeon-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

In his new role, Dr. Girardi will maintain and enhance the department's distinguished clinical care and biomedical research programs, championing minimally invasive techniques for cardiovascular surgery by recruiting surgeons who will augment the exceptional team already at the medical college. Dr. Girardi, who is also the O. Wayne Isom Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, is a Weill Cornell alumnus who has achieved a near 30-year career at the medical college and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. He is recognized for performing complex heart surgeries at the highest level of care.

Dr. Leonard Girardi
Photo credit: John Abbott

"Dr. Girardi is an esteemed surgeon, researcher and leader, and we are thrilled that he will serve as chair of cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell," said Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. "I have no doubt that he will continue to drive excellence at our already outstanding cardiothoracic program, advancing innovative research and pioneering new procedures to provide the very best in patient care."

"The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery has an accomplished history of pioneering highly specialized, complex and innovative procedures," said Dr. Steven J. Corwin, CEO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. "As an outstanding member of the Department for many years, Dr. Girardi is ideally suited to further this legacy of high-quality, patient-centered care."

"We have a proud legacy of providing high-quality, exemplary patient care," Dr. Girardi said. "To confidently take on the most difficult cardiothoracic cases, you need the support of the entire institution, and this is where Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian really shine. I'm honored to lead this department and continue to make innovations in this field."

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, a recognized leader in adult and pediatric heart, lung and esophageal surgery, is dedicated to providing patients with compassionate, quality-driven, comprehensive care in three boroughs of New York City. Its surgeons have expertise in complex procedures, including aortic aneurysm repair and bypass, and they are developing new surgical techniques that lessen recovery time and pain for patients, many of whom are older, sicker and have other illnesses. The department is pioneering minimally invasive robotic techniques for valve surgery and, for the sickest, offers a procedure that enables surgeons to replace patients' unhealthy valves without requiring heart-lung bypass machines to manage the heart's pumping action.

Thoracic surgeons at the department are also using robotic surgeries to remove lung tumors; patients treated this way typically see improved breathing function earlier than they would from open surgery and require less pain medication. Surgeons treating patients with esophageal cancer also utilize minimally invasive techniques. This highly specialized approach has elevated the department to the level of quaternary care — a step above the more common tertiary care — which means that it offers the most advanced treatment options.

In addition, physician-scientists are driving critical discoveries in heart and lung diseases and translating them into new surgical techniques and clinical trials. They are developing and testing minimally invasive surgical approaches to correct an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation; leading clinical trials that use immunotherapy to reduce the risk of recurrence in patients with lung and esophageal cancer; and conducting comprehensive genomic studies of cancer tumors to better understand how and why the disease spreads to the lungs. Researchers are also investigating ways to prevent stroke in patients who require aortic repair.

The Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery is also dedicated to training the next generation of surgeons. All of the department's surgeons are full-time members of Weill Cornell's teaching faculty.

Dr. Girardi is a fellow of the American Heart Association and the American College of Surgeons. He has won numerous awards, including an early-career NIH Research Fellowship and a 2004 Stephen Gold Award for Humanitarianism in Medicine. He has published more than 100 research articles in journals; presented at national and international meetings; and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiothoracic Surgery, Aorta, and the Journal of Cardiac Surgery. He was section editor for certification materials for surgeons specializing in adult cardiac surgery, and has written numerous book chapters.

Dr. Girardi received his bachelor's degree in biochemistry with honors from Harvard University and his medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College in 1989 as a member of its honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha. He completed residencies in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, as well as a one-year fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery under Dr. Michael DeBakey at Baylor College of Medicine. He returned to Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian in 1997 as a faculty member and attending surgeon.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer; the synthesis of penicillin; the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S.; the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease; the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth; and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/Westchester Division, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, and NewYork-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. The hospital is also closely affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area, according to U.S. News & World Report, and consistently named to the magazine's Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit and

Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University's medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Cornell University is the first in the U.S. to offer a M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson's disease, and most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit

Weill Cornell Medicine
Office of External Affairs
1300 York Ave.
Box 314
New York, NY 10065 Phone: (646) 962-9564