Featured Thoracic Surgeons: Monthly Features

Today’s Women in CT Surgery

Here we will feature women who represent the wide breadth of practicing thoracic surgeons in our field today.  We look forward to highlighting new women on a monthly basis, showing the great strides in patient care, research, humanitarian work, patient advocacy, and leadership being accomplished by women in our field.  We take pride in showcasing the fantastic women in CT Surgery, setting phenomenal examples both in and out of the operating room.

This month’s featured surgeons:

Drs Virginia Litle and Meghana Helder

Virginia Litle, MD

“A career in Thoracic Surgery offers constant intellectual, physical and emotional challenges that allow a path for personal and professional growth. The rewards of caring for people, mentoring future surgeons, being a leader and contributing to our academic field can’t be over-stated. You can’t do this job unless you love it!”

Virginia R. Litle, MD, Professor of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, is a graduate of the University of Vermont and received her medical degree from the Brown-Dartmouth Program in Medicine.  Dr. Litle completed her residency in General Surgery at the University of California in San Francisco, CA, and completed fellowships in both Surgical Oncology and Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. At Boston University Dr. Litle is Chief of Thoracic Surgery in the Department of Surgery, and Director of the Minimally Invasive Esophageal, Barrett’s Esophagus and Thoracic Clinical Research Programs.

Dr. Litle’s particular clinical interests include management of benign and malignant esophageal diseases and ablative therapies of esophageal and airway pathology.  Her additional research interests include risk-stratification for prevention of venothromboembolic (VTE) events following thoracic surgery, esophageal cancer screening with a sponge technique and discrimination of lung squamous cell carcinomas as being primary lung cancers or head and neck metastases. Dr. Litle is a member of the AATS, ESTS, STSA, ISMICS and STS and is a past president of Women in Thoracic Surgery. She serves as an associate editor of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery and is an active member of the ESTS/AATS VTE Committee. Her additional interests include global surgery, mentorship of medical students and residents, motherhood and tennis.

Dr. Litle is a force in our field and well-respected by all.  She is also an enormous role model for trainees interested in our field, as highlighted in her nomination:

“I met Virginia Litle when I was a research resident eagerly interested in Thoracic. She was one of the first females in Thoracic surgery I had met. She inspired me by her strong, kind and friendly personality and passion for innovations in Thoracic surgery. Even though we don’t know each other well she has encouraged me to apply and engage in opportunities within our field. She sets a great example as a strong female surgeon who advocates for others.”








Meghana Helder, MD (resident)

“I chose the field of cardiac surgery because it is one of the few surgical fields were we get to improve the quality of life of patients along with the quantity of life.  There are very few things more gratifying than seeing a patient come in in a wheelchair and leave the hospital walking.  It is a challenging, humbling, and constantly evolving field.  The fulfillment that comes from being able to call this my life’s work complements so well with the personal life.  I have been fortunate enough to have a husband who is not only supportive but pushes me to be the best I can be in all aspects of my life so that the two portions of my life can be in harmony. “

Dr. Helder was born in Hyderabad, India and moved to Salida, Colorado at the age of 7.  She moved through multiple states in the country including Nebraska, Mississippi, California, Florida, and Iowa growing up because of her father’s job.  She went to medical school at St. Louis University and joined the 4+3 program at Mayo, and she plans to graduate in 2019 after taking 2 years to do translational research involving decellularizing porcine valves with the hopes of recellularizing with autologous cells to make a durable, compatible valve prosthetic.  Her plan at the time of this feature is to join North Central Heart Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota after graduation, where she will focus on aortic endovascular work, TAVR, and open adult cardiac surgery along with community-focused research.  She states that she feels lucky to be married to Tyson Helder, who is a real-estate attorney, and to have just had a beautiful girl, Elia Ram Helder who is now 1 month old as of May 2019.

Dr. Helder was nominated by Elizabeth Stephens, because she “is a successful 4+3 resident pursuing career in adult cardiac and TAVR.”










For our full list of Past Features, click here.

If you’d like to submit a nomination for a surgeon feature, you can do so below or at this link.

Featured Surgeon Nomination Form

Please use this form to nominate women thoracic surgeons for a feature on the WTS website. Qualified nominees may be practicing surgeons in adult cardiac, congenital cardiac, or general thoracic surgery. Your nominations are greatly appreciated!
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