This May, at the American Association for Thoracic Surgery’s (AATS) 103rd Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, California, Washington University general surgery resident Louisa Bai, MD, was named the winner of the prestigious C. Walton Lillehei Resident Forum. Bai received this award for her research on mechanisms of lung transplant-mediated ischemia reperfusion injury under the mentorship of Ruben Nava, MD. She was also recognized recently as the winner of the Basic and Translational Research category of the 2023 Department of Surgery Samuel Wells Resident Research Day for the same work.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Bai moved to St. Louis to attend medical school at Washington University, where she graduated as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in 2020. Bai was a recipient of the Department of Surgery Teaching Awards for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, having been nominated and chosen by medical school and resident trainees for her contributions to quality education at the School of Medicine. Her current research interests include lung transplantation, ischemia reperfusion injury, and organ donor optimization.
The Lillehei award is named for C. Walton Lillehei, MD, PhD, known as the father of open heart surgery. Lillehei forever changed the face of cardiac surgery through his research, groundbreaking developments and innovative techniques. In 1952, Lillehei participated in the world’s first successful open heart surgery at the University of Minnesota, and in 1954, he headed the first successful open heart surgery using cross-circulation. Lillehei himself was well decorated, having received such honors as the Bronze Star for World War II service in Italy, the 1955 Lasker Award, the Order of Health Merit Jose Fernandez Madrid by the government of Colombia in 1959, the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1968, induction in 1993 into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame, and the 1996 Harvey Prize in Science and Technology. The AATS honors his legacy and contributions by selecting a resident researcher each year as the recipient of his namesake award for their own cutting-edge breakthroughs and research efforts.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity to showcase our work and certainly could not have done it without the excellent support and mentorship from Dr. Nava, Dr. Kreisel, and the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, ” Bai said. “It really takes a village.”
“This award is perhaps the most prestigious research award for surgical trainees in cardiothoracic surgery,” Director of the Washington University Lung Transplant Program Daniel Kreisel, MD, PhD, said. “We are extremely proud of Louisa for her terrific and dedicated work.”