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. Mara Antonoff and Tara Karamlou

Mara Antonoff MD

“To me, being a cardiothoracic surgeon is an enormous privilege and one that I do not take lightly. It is an incredible gift to be a part of so many individuals’ lives, to be trusted by families during times of vulnerability, and to have a chance to make an impact.  Every day, I think about how lucky I am to be a part of a phenomenally talented team–a team comprised of nurses, surgical technologists, advanced practitioners, therapists, trainees, and so many more folks behind the scenes.

Just as it takes a diverse, collaborative team in the hospital to provide outstanding care for patients, it also takes a team to support surgeons outside of work.  In this regard, I am also beyond lucky, as I have support from a spectacular husband, 4 amazingly understanding children, and a great network of friends and family who enable me to do what fulfills me both inside and outside of the hospital.  Being a mother of 4 and cardiothoracic surgeon certainly comes with its challenges.  However, I have found that there are elements of pride, lessons learned, and ways that I have inadvertently taught my kids what it means to work diligently toward a goal, to give of yourself to others, and to try to make a difference in this world. ”

Mara Antonoff, MD, is a general thoracic surgeon at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, Texas, where she is currently an Assistant Professor and Assistant Program Director of Education.  She has been continuously involved in the Women in Thoracic Surgery leadership since 2012, when she was still a trainee, and she has developed the WTS Social Media presence.  She holds numerous leadership positions with the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, (STS) CTSNet, the American Association of Thoracic Surgery (AATS), the Thoracic Education Cooperative Group (TECoG), the Thoracic Surgery Social Media Network (TSSMN), the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery (ISMICS), and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).

As highlighted in her nomination from WTS supporter and #HeforShe advocate, Dr. Tom Varghese:

Dr. Mara Antonoff does everything at the highest level of professionalism – and she is certainly involved in an incredible number of activities at such an early stage of her career! From undergraduate studies in Chemistry and Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, MD at University of Minnesota, General Surgery Residency at University of Minnesota, and Cardiothoracic Surgery Residency at Washington University, St. Louis – Dr. Antonoff’s track record has been one of outstanding work and delivery of the highest level of achievement at every step of the way. It comes as no surprise as a young faculty member at MD Anderson that her record of excellence has continued. Her clinical research interests focus on lung cancer and pulmonary metastatic disease, with particular interest in local consolidate therapy for oligometastatic lung cancer. She is also the lead PI of a multi-institutional randomized controlled trial exploring treatment modalities for patients with lung-limited metastatic colorectal cancer. She is one of the founding members of the Thoracic Education Cooperative Group (TECoG), and serves on the editorial boards of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, Journal of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, Innovations, Journal of Thoracic Diseases, and CTSNet.  A rising star in our field who will continue to raise the standards for all of us!


Tara Karamlou, MD

“Congenital heart surgery just seemed to make sense for me personally, but my definitive specialty choice can be distilled down to two aspects: 1) Mentorship; and 2)  the unique opportunity to take care of children (our future) in a very tangible and direct way.  I had the good fortune early in my general surgery career to meet several visionaries in the field of congenital cardiac surgery who inspired and challenged me in a very comprehensive, yet intuitive way. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this in directing career trajectories and driving progress – especially for women cardiothoracic surgeons. Regarding the second aspect, the reconstructive aspect (as opposed to extirpative aspect) of congenital surgery appealed to me, but caring for children, I felt, provided a sustainability – a legacy- to what I would do every day that I cherish. I really could not envision another pathway at this point.”

Tara Karamlou, MD, is a congenital cardiac surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.  Dr. Karamlou completed her residency in General Surgery at the Oregon Health & Science University, received CT Surgical training at the University of Michigan, and completed her completed her Congenital Cardiac Fellowship at the Seattle Children’s Hospital.  She is an outstanding role model for women, congenital surgeons, and our entire specialty.

As highlighted in her nomination from WTS leader and colleague, Dr. Lauren Kane:

Dr. Tara Karamlou is an incredible congenital heart surgeon, renowned researcher, role model and wonderful human being. She is Associate Professor, Congenital heart surgeon and the Director of Research and Education at the Cleveland Clinic. She is incredibly well published and has contributed to not only the field of congenital heart surgery but as a whole of cardiothoracic surgery. She has been a mentor to more people, students and residents then can be named. She has served on and continues to serve on numerous national and international level taskforce and workforce within our specialty. I have benefited from knowing her as a colleague and friend.




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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