Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery

The Cardiovascular Surgery Program of Rhode Island and The Miriam Hospitals specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of both basic and complex disorders of the heart.  

Working in conjunction with Cardiovascular Surgery, the Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC) and Cardiovascular Institute (CVI) are two of the best-funded cardiac surgery research programs in the country, specializing in areas of blood vessel regulation, myocardial protection and regenerative therapies for the treatment of patients who are not candidates for traditional surgical or medical therapies.  

The main objective of the Division's research is collateral vessel formation. with the vast majority of these cases supported by NIH funding. The Division also examines collateral vessel formation in diabetic and non-diabetic patients. This is an extension of other work in animal models to discern whether or not the effects that occur in the porcine collateral formation model do in fact occur in patients.


Frank Sellke, MD
Division Chief
Jun Feng, PhD
Arun Singh, MD
Ruhul Abid, PhD Afshin Ehsan, MD Neel Sodha, MD
Richard Clements, PhD Thomas Ng, MD Ikenna Okereke, MD
Current Research

In the past six years, the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery has been involved with the design, monitoring and execution of multiple clinical trials. This includes the Nova Nordisk phase II recombinant activity to Factor VI clinical trial. Dr. Sellke has served on the steering committee and publications committee for this trial and Rhode Island Hospital was involved with the analysis of the data. This resulted in a publication in the journal Circulation. Dr. Sellke was also involved in the design and execution of phase II trial dealing with the effects of dealing with Factor XIII on bleeding following cardiac surgery. This resulted in a publication in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. 

Currently, the center is initiating a trial dealing with fibrinogen concentrate on bleeding following aortic surgery. Dr. Afshin Ehsan is the site principal investigator for this trial, sponsored by CSL Behring. Furthermore, Dr. Sellke served as chairman of a data and safety monitoring board for the Cardiothoracic Surgical Network. This is a network funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute and is currently involved with, or in the past has been involved with, approximately eight clinical trials dealing with everything from cell-based therapy to surgical treatment of valvular disease and the surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation. 

Active Grants

PI: Sellke
Effect of Cardioplegia and Cardiopulmonary bypass on Coronary Microvascular React  
Type: R01 HL046716-21
Agency: NHLBI     
Period: 3/2010 - 2/2016   TC: $1,594,588
PI: Sellke
Effects of a Pulse Induced by a Constant-Flow Total Cardiac Replacement Device   
Type: R01 HL090521-04
Agency: NHLBI/Texas Heart Inst. 
Period: 9/2009 - 12/2015   TC: $260,220
PI: Clements
BKCa Activation for Enhanced Coronary and Myocardial Protection During Cardiac Surgery in Large Animals
Agency: AHA Grant-in-Aid
Period:  7/2014 - 6/2017       TC: $198,000 
PI: Feng
Down Regulation of SKCa/IKCa Channels Contributes to Coronary Arterial Endothelial Dysfunction in Diabetic Patients
Type:  P20 GM103652-02
Agency: COBRE/NCRR    
Period: 6/2014 - 5/2015   TC: $53,500
PI: Abid
Improvement of Coronary Vascular Functions by Endothelium-Targeted Increase in Reactive Oxygen Species (COBRE Project 3)
Type:  P20 GM103652-02
Agency: COBRE/NCRR   
Period: 9/2013 - 5/2018    TC: $1,264,860
PI: Abid
Mechanisms for Differential Effects of Short-Term and Long-Term Increase in ROS on Endothelium
Agency: AHA Grant-in-Aid
Period:  7/2014 - 6/2017    TC: $198,000
Active IRB Research Protocols
PI Protocol
Feng Calcium-Activated Potassium Channels and Protection of Diabetic Coronary Arterioles
Okereke Outcomes of spontaneous pneumomediastinum
Outcomes Of Patients with Small Cell Lung Cancer
Outcomes of patients with pulmonary carcinoid tumors
Singh Use of IMA - CABG


Richard T. Clements, PhD
Afshin Ehsan, MD
Jun Feng, PhD
Ikenna Okereke, MD
Frank Sellke, MD
Arun Singh, MD
Neel Sodha, MD