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 the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute (LCVI) 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

Ruhul Abid, MD, PhD Richard Clements, PhD Afshin Ehsan, MD
Jun Feng, MD, PhD James Fingleton, MD   Steven Milman, MD
Thomas Ng, MD
Neel Sodha, MD
Anny Usheva-
Simidjiyska, PhD

Current Research

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

Effect of Cardioplegia and Cardiopulmonary Bypass on Coronary Microvascular Reactivity
PI: F. Sellke   
Type: R01 HL046716
Agency: NHLBI
Period: 8/1992 - 3/2019   Total Costs: $1,543,504
Vascular Dysfunction in Myocardial Ischemia and Metabolic Syndrome
Co-PIs: F. Sellke & A. Usheva-Simidjiyska
Type: R01 HL128831
Agency: NHLBI
Period: 4/2016 - 6/2020    Total Costs: $2,463,772 
A Novel Therapy to Reduce Cardia Injury and Dysfunction After Myocardial Infarction
Co-PIs: F. Sellke & B.S. Jhun
Agency: NIGMS/Advance CTR
Period: 7/2017 - 7/2018    Total Costs: $120,750
Statins Influence Cardiovascular Outcomes by Modulation of Atherosclerotic Plaque Calcium
Consortium PI: F. Sellke 
Type: P20 GM103652
Agency: NIGMS/Ocean State Research Institute
Period: 6/2017 - 5/2018       Total Costs: $98,423
Metabolic Regulation of Endothelial SKCa/IKCa Channels and Coronary Endothelial Function
PI: J. Feng
Agency: AHA Grant-in-Aid
Period: 7/2015 - 6/2018      Total Costs: $198,000
Metabolic Regulation of SKCa/IKCa Channels in Endothelial Function
PI: J. Feng
Type: R01 HL127072
Agency: NHLBI
Period: 9/2016 - 5/2020     Total Costs: $1,537,569
SKCa/IKCa Channel Activation and Endothelial Protection During Cardiac Surgery
PI: J. Feng
Type: R01 HL136347
Agency: NHLBI
Period: 4/2017 - 3/2021     Total Costs: $1,541,174
Sub-Cellular Targeting of Endothelial ROS in Myocardial Ischemia
PI: R. Abid
Type: R01 HL133624
Agency: NHLBI
Period: 8/2017 - 6/2021     Total Costs: $1,610,000
Improvement of Coronary Vascular Functions by Endothelium-Targeted Increase in Reactive Oxygen Species (COBRE Project 3)
PI: R. Abid
Type:  P20 GM103652
Agency: COBRE/Ocean State Research Institute   
Period: 9/2013 - 5/2018      Total Costs: $1,326,265 
Mechanisms for Differential Effects of Short-Term and Long-Term Increase in ROS on Endothelium
PI: R. Abid
Agency: AHA Grant-in-Aid
Period:  7/2014 - 6/2018       Total Costs: $198,000 
BKCa Activation for Enhanced Coronary and Myocardial Protection During Cardiac Surgery in Large Animals
PI: R. Clements
Agency: AHA Grant-in-Aid
Period:  7/2014 - 6/2018     Total Costs: $198,000 
Vasoreactivity Effects of PreveLeak
PI: R. Clements
Agency: Mallinckrodt, Inc.
Period: 9/2017 - 12/2017     Total Costs: $16,799