Pioneering Pediatric Heart Surgeon Ross Ungerleider Joins Wake Forest Baptist

July 28, 2010

Ross Ungerleider, M.D., M.B.A., a national leader and pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery programs, has joined Brenner Children’s Hospital at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center as chief of the pediatric cardiovascular surgery team and director of the pediatric heart program.

Ungerleider, who has more than 25 years of clinical experience, is an expert in all congenital heart surgery procedures and has special expertise in aortic valve surgery and hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He is certified in congenital heart surgery and is board certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He is well recognized for his work in developing safe techniques to perform complete repairs of cardiac defects in tiny infants while protecting their neurologic outcomes. 

He joins Brenner Children’s Hospital after serving as chief of pediatric cardiac surgery and vice chairman for education for the Department of Surgery at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. He has also held positions as chief of pediatric cardiac surgery, surgical director of the pediatric intensive care unit, and medical director of the ECMO program at Duke University Medical Center.

“I’m hoping to contribute to the leadership and expertise at Brenner Children’s Hospital and help the pediatric heart program grow as a center of excellence by national standards,” he said.

The Heart Program at Brenner Children’s Hospital offers state-of-the-art surgical capabilities, an active fetal and transesophageal echo program, a pulmonary hypertension clinic, eight outreach clinics, and lipid and hypertension/metabolic syndrome clinics.

As director of the pediatric heart program, Ungerleider plans to expand the existing infrastructure and “harness the strengths of a team that can deliver high quality care. Our goal at Brenner Children’s Hospital is to provide a comprehensive program offering a full range of cardiovascular surgeries and to deliver thoughtful, skillful and compassionate care that exceeds the standard of excellence,” said Ungerleider.

Ungerleider said the medical center leadership team’s vision -- to become a preeminent, internationally recognized academic medical center of the highest quality – fits his own vision for what he wants to bring to Brenner Children’s Hospital. “There is a lot of good we can do for children here, and we can make Brenner Children’s Hospital a major center for children’s heart surgery,” he said.

Ungerleider doesn’t use words like teamwork and leadership lightly. He is recognized as a physician thought leader on leadership, teamwork, conflict management and work life balance for physicians and often presents talks at national conferences on these topics. “Health care in this country is moving away from a culture in which the physician determines the system dynamics to a culture that is more patient centered and also more sensitive to the dynamics of the entire health care team,” Ungerleider said. 

Professional Background: In addition to his work in Cleveland and at Duke, Ungerleider has served as professor and chief of pediatric cardiac surgery at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, a part of Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU), the John C. Hursh Chair of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at OHSU and the chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at OHSU. While at Duke and OHSU, he helped develop two of the most outstanding academic cardiac programs in the country, both in terms of patient outcomes and contributions to the field of cardiac surgery.  Selected other accomplishments:

  • Author of more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers and book chapters; editor of two major textbooks on cardiac surgery
  • Elected membership in the American Association of Thoracic Surgery, the Congenital Heart Surgeon’s Society, the Southern Surgical Association and the American Surgical Association, one of the nation’s most esteemed surgical organizations. 
  • 2005-06 president of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association.
  • Recipient of the James Carreras International Humanitarian Award in 2000 for his work performing heart surgery on children in Nicaragua.
  • Best Doctors and Castle Connolly’s Top Doctors in America for the past 12 years.
  • Good Housekeeping recognition as one of the best pediatric cardiac surgeons in the U.S. 
  • Member of the Task Force on Professionalism of the American College of Surgeons.
  • Serves on ethics committees of both the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and the American Association of Thoracic Surgeons.
  • Received an MBA from the University of Tennessee school of Business in 2006 and selected as its outstanding physician leader of the year. 

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Bonnie Davis:, 336-713-1597