Soleimani named director of Penn State Heart and Vascular Institute

A head and shoulders professional portrait of Behzad Soleimani against a background image of Penn State College of Medicine.

Dr. Behzad Soleimani has been appointed director of the Penn State Heart and Vascular Institute, effective March 1, after serving as interim director since May 1, 2021. Soleimani is associate professor of surgery at Penn State College of Medicine and chief of cardiac surgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

February 10, 2022Penn State Health News

During his tenure as interim director, Soleimani led the Heart and Vascular Institute in achieving a 100% three-year survival rate for the heart transplant program, surpassing the national average by almost 15% and positioning the program as No. 1 in Pennsylvania and No. 2 nationally. He has also increased access for new patient referrals to the institute and improved quality, productivity and patient and physician satisfaction.

Soleimani, an internationally recognized heart surgeon, joined the faculty at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in 2010. In 2015, he was appointed the surgical director of the Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program and, since that time, the heart transplant program has transformed into one of the most successful in the country.

He has pioneered novel techniques in minimally invasive surgery to remove and replace Left Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs) so that patients whose hearts are supported with older generation devices benefit from the most modern available technology, without the need for reopening the sternum. He was also the first surgeon in the United States to use a titanium plug to seal the hole within the recovered heart of an adult patient after the removal of an LVAD.

He is the recipient of a national award for implanting the second-highest number of total artificial hearts in the United States and the fourth-highest number in the world in 2015. Dr. Soleimani is credited with having among the world’s largest number of surviving patients after LVAD implantation in the setting of critical cardiogenic shock supported by ECMO, a machine that temporarily performs the functions of the heart and lungs. During his time with the organization, he has implemented quality improvement initiatives that resulted in significant improvement in outcomes after cardiac surgery.

Soleimani is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, a fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons of England and a member of The Royal College of Physicians of London. He achieved board certification in cardiothoracic surgery from The Royal College of Surgeons in 2005. He was awarded a doctorate in transplantation immunology from Imperial College London in 2007.

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