Joseph Woo, MD, receives AHA’s 2021 Clinical Research Prize


Joseph Woo, MD
Joseph Woo, MD

Joseph Woo, MD, of Stanford University, was awarded AHA’s 2021 Clinical Research Prize. The Clinical Research Prize recognizes an individual making outstanding contributions to the advancement of clinical science relevant to the association’s mission. Dr. Woo’s expertise as a surgeon includes thoracic aortic surgery, mitral and aortic valve repair, mechanical circulatory support and thoracic transplant. He has pioneered novel operations and minimally invasive approaches for valve repair and reconstruction. 

Dr. Woo was recognized with the association’s Vivien Thomas Young Investigator Award in 1997 for his postdoctoral research fellowship in novel molecular strategies for attenuating myocardial ischemic injury. One of Dr. Woo’s recent clinical studies evaluated the long-term outcomes for patients receiving aortic or mitral valve replacement and was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study’s results demonstrated a marked reduction in mortality with a mechanical valve implant in patients up to 70 years of age, leading to changes in the AHA/ACC 2020 Valve Guidelines that impact clinical practice and hopefully improve patient survival. 

Dr. Woo also leads the Stanford Advanced Cardiovascular Therapeutics and Surgical Biomechanics Translational Research Laboratory, which is focused on angiogenic, stem cell and myocardial regenerative approaches to heart failure, and biomechanical engineering approaches to optimize valve repair operations and novel intracardiac device design.  

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be receiving this award and do so onbehalf of my team of students, trainees, faculty and staff who have dedicated countless hours, years of their lives, to the tirelesspursuit ofscientific discovery,” said Dr. Woo. “Daily, we witness thedevastation anddebilitation that cardiovasculardisease can inflict and theprofound impact of cardiovasculartherapies on saving lives and restoring health and happiness. Advances in cardiovascular care are propelled by basicscience, engineering, translational and clinicalinvestigation. Thank you to theAmerican HeartAssociation. Through its noble mission, the association nurtures vitalresearch andeducates us all on the best evidence-based approaches to heal. Our collective journey is one where we seek to reach and deliver the best possible care to all communities to build a more promising and heart healthy future.” 

Dr. Woo is the Norman E. Shumway Professor and chair of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, associate director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and an attending cardiothoracic surgeon at Stanford Hospital and Clinics and the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California. Dr. Woo is also a professor by courtesy of the department of bioengineering at the School of Engineering at Stanford University.  

Dr. Woo is board certified in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he completed his internship, research residency and cardiothoracic surgical residency, as well as his research fellowship and cardiothoracic surgery fellowship. He earned his bachelor of science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Among 15 research grants as principal investigator, Dr. Woo has been awarded three R01 research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and two research grants from the American Heart Association: one for “Endogenous Myocardial Revascularization and Repair via Endothelial Progenitor Cell Chemokinesis;” the second for “Targeted Endothelial Progenitor Cell Chemokinesis as Vasculogenic Therapy for Ischemic Cardiomyopathy.” He was also co-investigator for three additional NIH research grants, and he has four patent filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. His research includes more than 350 manuscripts published in peer-reviewed publications.  

He has served in numerous volunteer roles with the association since 2004, and he is currently a member of the Leadership Committee for the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia, previously serving as chair and vice chair. He has also been a member of the Scientific Sessions Program Committee for the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery and Anesthesia; the Leadership Committee of the Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology; the Scientific Publishing Committee; the Manuscript Oversight Committee; and the Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee. His leadership in the scientific community also includes various roles on committees at the National Institutes of Health, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education, the American College of Cardiology, the Association for Academic Surgery, the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Society of University Surgeons.