Heart Surgeon Zain Khalpey Appointed to Lead Heart Transplant Program & Mechanical Circulatory Support Surgery Program at UAMC

He has been appointed surgical director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus.
Zain Khalpey, MD, PhD, MRCS (Eng), has joined the University of Arizona Department of surgery as associate professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He has been appointed surgical director of the Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus.
Specializing in heart surgery for adults and children, Dr. Khalpey comes to the UA from Columbia University in New York City, where he also has a tenure track appointment in cardiothoracic surgery. His surgical interests include adult and pediatric heart transplant, mechanical circulatory support (ventricular-assist devices and total artificial heart), ex vivo lung perfusion, minimally invasive treatments for valve disease, arrhythmia surgery and robotic mitral valve surgery.
In his research role at the UA, he is the director of the Ex Vivo Lung Program, clinical and translational research, and the Cardiopulmonary Stem Cell Bank. Dr. Khalpey also holds a position on the UA Institutional Review Board (IRB).
Dr. Khalpey’s research on translational tissue regeneration evolved from past basic science studies in metabolomics and cell survival. His laboratory at the UA focuses on basic and translational research on organogenesis (the formation and development of organs), organ preservation and tissue regeneration.
Dr. Khalpey is engaged in ex vivo reconditioning of marginal human hearts and lungs, which will generate functional lung and heart tissue that ultimately can be used for transplantation. This reconditioning process uses human cadaveric lungs that are decellularized (chemically stripped of its cells, leaving behind the extracellular tissue and lung scaffolds). That structure is “re-seeded” with autologous stem cells to rebuild the organ.
He also is involved in creating clinical “bridge-to-regeneration” trials, in which autologous stem cells will be injected into failing hearts with the hope of recovery in an era of limited hearts for transplantation.
Dr. Khalpey has published more than 100 manuscripts, abstracts and book chapters in heart and lung transplantation in basic science and clinical outcome studies. He is an American Heart Association reviewer and Early Career Reviewer for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has received numerous teaching and institutional awards, including the Hunterian Medal and Professorship of Surgery from Royal College of Surgeons, England; the Winston Churchill Medal, bestowed by HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, London, UK; Excellence in Teaching Award, Harvard University; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Fellowship from Switzerland and France; and the Solly Medal and Prize for Surgery from the University of London.
“The combined training, aptitude and skills of Dr. Khalpey represent the future of cardiac surgery,” said Robert Poston, MD, chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. “He has tremendous promise as a surgeon who successfully will bridge the gap between the theories of basic science research and practical innovation in clinical medicine and surgery. I am extremely excited to add him as a critical partner to our growing CT team.”
“We are very happy to have a surgeon and researcher of Dr. Khalpey’s caliber join the cardiothoracic team,” said Rainer W.G. Gruessner, MD, chairman, UA Department of Surgery. “The cardiac surgery program has a national reputation as a pioneer in heart transplantation, in developing new heart devices and for providing the highest levels of patient care for patients suffering from heart failure. The addition of Dr. Khalpey will serve to further strengthen this outstanding program for the residents of Tucson and beyond.