Renowned Surgeon Dr. Bartley Griffith Named Vice Chair for Innovation in UM School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery
January 31, 2024
University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) Department of Surgery Chair Christine Lau, MD, MBA, along with UMSOM Dean Mark T. Gladwin, MD, announced today the appointment of Bartley P. Griffith, MD, as the Department of Surgery’s first Vice Chair for Innovation. In this role, Dr. Griffith will nurture a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration in the Department, and expand the integration of related sciences into surgical practice. The appointment is effective on February 1.
“Dr. Griffith is one of the most nationally and internationally known heart surgeons in the world. There is no area of heart surgery that he has not impacted,” said Dr. Lau, who is the Dr. Robert W. Buxton Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at UMSOM and Surgeon-in-Chief at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “We look forward to the additional impact he will now have in supporting the development of translatable technological innovations in the department and collaborating with colleagues within the School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Medical System at large.”
Dr. Griffith is a pioneer in heart and lung transplantation and education. In January 2022, he became the first surgeon in the world to implant a genetically modified pig heart into a living patient in partnership with Muhammad Mohiuddin, MD, Professor of Surgery at UMSOM. The 57-year-old patient lived for two months, and the surgery was hailed as a breakthrough. A second patient received a pig heart in October 2023 and lived for several weeks. Dr. Griffith serves as the Clinical Director of the Cardiac Xenotransplantation Program at UMSOM, and Dr. Mohiuddin as the program’s Program/Scientific Director.
Dr. Griffith has had significant funding throughout his career and currently has over $40 million in extramural funding. He is also an accomplished entrepreneur holding 10 issued patents and has established three companies. In the 1980s, he was the first to develop a method of auto-perfusion of a donor heart-lung bloc to enable procurement and transport of these organs at a distance far from the recipient. In 1985, he introduced a total artificial heart as a short-term bridge for morbidly ill patients awaiting a human heart transplant. In 1990, he was the first to receive permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to discharge patients on implanted ventricular assist devices (VADs) from the hospital. He founded the $13 million McGowan Center for Artificial Organs in 1994. In collaboration with engineers, he developed and was among the first to implant the novel and benchmarking rotary Heartmate II VAD, now implanted in more than 15,000 patients.
In 1998, he began a successful, decades-long NHLBI-supported program to develop an artificial lung. Key to this development were his partnerships forged with bioengineers and an emphasis on the use of computer-aided design to maximize biocompatibility of flow paths. The device was licensed to Breethe, a University of Maryland spinoff company, which was later sold to Abiomed. The FDA approved the device, and it is now available to patients.
“Bart Griffith is an entrepreneurial leader who will exponentially increase the number of novel ideas generated throughout the Department of Surgery that will translate into successful grant proposals and business ventures,” said Dr. Gladwin, who is the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of UMSOM, and Vice President for Medical Affairs at University of Maryland, Baltimore. “As Baltimore and the Maryland Biotech Corridor continues its strong momentum, there is no one better suited for this new position to foster a culture of innovation and to mentor the next generation of surgeon-scientists.”
Dr. Griffith will serve as a vital mentor and educator to medical students, surgeons in training, and young surgeons starting in their careers who are looking to capitalize on novel techniques and advances in their field.
“Throughout his extraordinary career, Dr. Griffith has pushed the boundaries of medicine to advance solutions to some of the most complex medical challenges,” said Bert W. O'Malley, MD, President and CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center. “I welcome this opportunity to better leverage his unique insight and pioneering spirit to further accelerate UMMC’s and the School of Medicine’s joint commitment to discovery and clinical translation.”
Added Dr. Griffith who is the Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor of Transplant Surgery at UMSOM: “I am honored to accept this new position and look forward to complementing my patient and surgical care with this new emphasis. Patients in need have always been the inspiration for new operative therapies and device. I wish to enlist my colleagues to pursue ideas that excite them with the goal of saving more patients’ lives.”
Dr. Griffith has received multiple honors and awards throughout his career. Internationally, he was an honorary professor at Harbin Medical University in Harbin, China, and was inducted into the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom. At the UMSOM, he received the Regents Faculty Award for Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity, the Founders Week Faculty Research Lecturer of the Year, and the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Hero Award. During the past four years, honors for the National Society include the Lillehei Lecture at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Annual Meeting, Innovation Award in Mechanical Circulatory Support at the American Association for Thoracic Surgery Symposium; New Frontiers in Transplantation at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Annual Meeting; William W.L. Glenn Lecture at the American Heart Scientific Sessions, Bakken Award at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Annual Meeting; and John Gibbon, Jr., Lecture at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress.
“Historic accomplishments like the cardiac xenotransplant would not have been possible without the world-class surgical skills that Dr. Griffith brought into the operating room,” said Bradley Taylor, MD, MPH, the Dr. Joseph S. and Irene P. McLaughlin Professor of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. “He has demonstrated time and again his commitment to innovation and in mentoring the next generation of surgeons.”
Dr. Griffith received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in 1974. He completed his internship, General & Cardiothoracic Surgery residency, and fellowship, all from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1981. He subsequently joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine faculty and moved up the ranks, serving as Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery from 1996 to 2001. In 2001, Dr. Griffith joined the University of Maryland School of Medicine faculty as Professor of Surgery with Tenure and served as the Chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery until 2012. In 2008, Dr. Griffith received the Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor. He was the Director of Cardiopulmonary Transplantation from 2001-2013 and 2017-2020 and the Cardiothoracic Residency Program from 2001-2019 at the UMSOM.
Dr. Griffith is a highly accomplished scholar and lecturer with an impressive list of credentials. He has authored more than 850 peer-reviewed articles, a book, and more than 80 book chapters. He has presented at numerous local, regional, national, and international meetings, including the "Celebrating a Medical Breakthrough" event at Mass General Brigham in Boston, MA. A member of various major national societies and medical boards, he has served on multiple committees in leadership roles, including editorial boards and consultant roles for eleven companies. Among his proudest accomplishments, he also founded the Family House for transplant patients.