Baird News

Aortic Surgery

Figure 1

The aorta can be divided into five parts (I-IV). Three of these parts (I-III) compose the thoracic aorta: Ascending aorta (incorporating the aortic valve and the origin of the coronary arteries, which supply the heart), aortic arch (giving origin of the vessels to the head and arms), and descending aorta (with origins of the arteries supplying the spinal cord), respectively (Figure 1).

Diseases of the thoracic aorta include arteriosclerotic processes, dilatations (aneurysms), narrowing (stenosis), inflammatory diseases and tears of the inner and mid layer of the aortic wall, causing an acute, incomplete rupture (aortic dissection). An aortic dissection is a life-threatening disease, generally requiring an emergency operation. In contrast to atherosclerotic processes and/or aneurysmal disease, which are often without any clinical symptoms, patients with an acute aortic dissection typically describe a sudden onset of a sharp pain between the shoulder blades.

Any kind of sudden onset of chest pain requires urgent medical attention!

Tremendous progress has been made in the treatment of diseases of the thoracic aorta. Based on extensive scientific and research work, surgical procedures today are safe and can be performed as less invasive operations for patients.

The Baird Institute is involved in comprehensive basic laboratory and clinical research work, addressing all kinds of aortic surgery.

Surgical principles of aortic surgery consist of replacement of the diseased aorta using a vascular prosthesis. Vascular prostheses basically last forever and are well adopted by the human body without rejection. The operations are performed using the heart-lung-machine and specific protection strategies for the heart, the brain and all other organs. Part of these protection strategies include specific solutions to protect the heart (cardioplegic solution), continuous perfusion of the brain and protection of all organs by cooling the patients on the heart-lung-machine.

Figure 2

Figure 2 depicts some examples of replacements of parts of the thoracic aorta. These include:


The ascending aorta is replaced with a vascular graft of appropriate size from above the aortic valve to the aortic arch.


The ascending aorta and parts of the aortic arch (hemiarch) are replaced.


The ascending aorta and the complete aortic arch are replaced with a vascular graft.


The ascending aorta and parts of the aortic arch are replaced. The vessels supplying the head and arms are connected to the aortic graft using a specially designed vascular graft (trifurcated graft).


Almost the whole thoracic aorta is replaced with a so-called hybrid prosthesis. This prosthesis consists of a conventional vascular graft (for the ascending aorta and the aortic arch) and a stent graft for the descending aorta. This special hybrid prosthesis is also called “frozen elephant trunk”, as the original vascular graft, loosely hanging into the descending aorta (“elephant trunk” procedure described by Prof. H. Borst, Hannover Medical School, Germany in 1983), is now replaced by a rigid stent graft (the “frozen elephant trunk”).

It is of importance to note that each surgical procedure is individualized to the patient. This incorporates the design and size of the prostheses used as well as the surgical strategy ie. how much of the aorta has to be replaced, where to connect the heart-lung-machine to the patient, which temperature used, etc.

With today’s modern and innovative surgical techniques, even complex aortic surgery can be performed with a low operative risk.

Research Update – September 2023

Dr Robert Hume

I have been researching now with the kind support of The Baird Institute for just over a year and have sincerely enjoyed my time thus far. As microscopic analyses are my forte, I have been helping across multiple research projects by imaging cardiac tissue at high magnifications using specific fluorescent markers, as well as performing complex 3-dimensional imaging techniques. This has allowed me to identify the presence of different proteins in both diseased and healthy heart tissue. Furthermore, it has allowed us to discover new insight into the heart’s ability to regenerate and repair itself following a heart attack (aka myocardial infarction). With multiple publications on the precipice of submission to highly respected scientific journals, we hope to share our findings in more detail with you all soon!

Another exciting project I am working on currently involves keeping slices of fresh human heart tissue alive and beating! For this project, Baird associated surgeons perform surgery to remove excess tissue from patients with overgrown hearts (hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy). This unwanted tissue is then transported to the lab, sliced, and kept in an incubator with special equipment that periodically electrically stimulates the tissue. This new equipment allows us to analyse the tissues’ ability to contract over time and allows us to test exciting new therapeutics for the treatment of heart failure.

All research requires funding to get started. This is why I am excited to announce that a third project, involving the development of flexible biodegradable blood vessel replacements, has received a prestigious Vangard research grant award from the Heart Foundation. Starting in 2024, in collaboration with a world-leading biomaterials engineer Professor Tony Weiss, we will be synthesising and testing cutting-edge blood vessel replacements. Currently, synthetic materials used to replace smaller vessels are too rigid and prone to blockages. Using naturally derived elastic proteins interwoven into a biodegradable polymer, our vessels will be flexible, resistant to blockages and will undergo slow natural degradation, whilst simultaneously encouraging the body to slowly repair itself. In short, these biodegradable replacements aim to substitute damaged vessels, degrade and form new healthy vessel tissue. This research could help the millions of patients who suffer from diseased or damaged vessels, allowing them to rebuild their own vessels with the help of our biodegradable replacement.

I would like to thank all the wonderful supporters of The Baird Institute for helping us undertake such exciting and groundbreaking research.

Community Fundraising – City 2 Surf 2023

Natalie Zugec and her band of family and friends were back at the City 2 Surf this year once again on the 10th anniversary of James’ passing.  At this event each year, Natalie and her team always manage to raise in excess of $2,000 for The Baird Institute in memory of her husband, James Wadland who died of an aortic dissection at the age of 35.

If you have a community fundraising idea, we would love to hear from you. Email Catherine at [email protected] or call 02 9550 2350

Barry’s Story: Aortic Dissection

Barry Willis was my dearly loved and loving husband, and a wonderful father, grandfather and loyal friend who worked as a research and development chemist, displaying the most amazing engineering and handyman skills. He was a tall, slim, active, fit, healthy living, caring, considerate, kind, patient, thoughtful and witty man, who greatly enjoyed life and all that it had to offer. He suffered from migraines for over thirty years for which he took preventative medication, and in 2007 was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, with no cause determined after exhaustive testing. Following a CT scan in 2012, Barry had been told that he had a “tortuous” aorta, but there was no indication that this was a concern.

It was therefore a great shock when on 30th March 2015, Barry, then aged 65 years, complained of sudden, ripping chest pain and dizziness and was taken to Concord General Repatriation Hospital. A heart attack was ruled out within hours. A member of the medical team “inexplicably cancelled” a CT scan planned for Tuesday 31st, leaving Barry to continue suffering relentless pain for close to 75 hours, until he finally underwent two CT scans five hours apart on Thursday 2nd April which diagnosed his condition as being not only a B dissection in his descending aorta, but also an Acute Type A aortic dissection. He was then rushed to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) for emergency surgery where he was met by one of the specialist Baird Institute surgeons who informed him that he would die unless he underwent surgery.

The following morning, Good Friday, 3rd April, following the operation which involved heart valve replacement and dacron grafting of Barry’s ascending aorta, the surgical team met with me and our children and informed us that in addition to Barry’s operation being a very long and difficult one, they believed that he had a genetic connective tissue disorder, Familial Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm and Dissection (Familial TAAD). It was recommended that Barry’s siblings and all children have their aortas checked. Both of Barry’s brothers were subsequently found to have aneurysms measuring up to 5 cms in their ascending aortas and their health continues to be monitored. The surgeons further explained it was “touch and go” as to whether Barry would survive and the next 24 hours would be crucial. Barry’s operation was complicated by bleeding and the surgeons had opted to delay chest closure until the bleeding was controlled. Over the next two days, Barry was in an induced coma, while our family waited to see if he would survive. The bleeding slowed during this period, and on Sunday 5th April, Barry was returned to theatre for the chest closure procedure. After the surgery, Barry gradually regained consciousness and commenced his long road to recovery. After leaving RPAH in mid-April, he spent nine days in Royal Rehabilitation Hospital at Ryde before finally coming home 27 days after his dissection. We called him “Miracle Man”. He felt so lucky to be alive and he considered every day to be a gift. He very persistently and determinedly worked hard to regain his health and strength.

Over the next two years, Barry was closely monitored by his surgeons and his cardiologist, Professor Richmond Jeremy. Regular CT scans to monitor aortic dilation were always a major source of anxiety since we had been told that it was very likely that Barry would require further repair surgery in the future, as the surgeons had done the best they could in the aortic repair surgery under very difficult circumstances, especially in view of the four day delay in diagnosis. Barry also had a number of other health issues, necessitating regular visits to the GP and other specialists.

As Barry’s wife and carer, I took over the lawn mowing, gardening and lifting tasks, and did all I that I could to look after him in order to keep him alive. For the first year after his dissection, I continually felt we were living with a ticking time bomb. It was always in the back of our minds, which made it hard to relax and enjoy life.

We gradually resumed our former activities and interests, with Barry back researching and doing his much-loved handyman tasks, and me teaching and volunteering in the community. We also resumed our weekly 25 km bike rides and we walked daily. We enjoyed some short holidays and day outings, although long distance and overseas travel was now totally out of the question. We also had many opportunities to enjoy time with our children, grandchildren, extended family and friends, time together which we always treasured.

Unfortunately, a CT scan conducted in March 2017 revealed that Barry’s aorta was measuring 6.0 cms in parts, and following consultation with Professor Jeremy and the Baird specialist surgeons, Barry was strongly advised to undergo further major repair surgery involving the replacement of his aortic arch and the insertion of a frozen elephant trunk prosthesis, as he was now at great risk of rupture and certain death.

Not looking forward to it but having researched in depth the procedure which we were informed had an 85 – 90% chance of success, Barry was admitted, ever hopeful, to RPAH on 8th August. On Wednesday 9th, he underwent a 12-hour long operation performed by the specialist Baird Institute surgical team, which he miraculously survived. Unfortunately, Barry had to be returned to theatre early the next morning for chest re-opening due to bleeding complications. He remained in an induced coma for another nine days due to problems controlling the bleeding, chest reclosure, clots and infections. In addition, we were told that he had suffered a small sub-arachnoid brain haemorrhage. On the 20th of August, following the tracheostomy operation, Barry regained consciousness and for the next 19 days, he courageously fought further complications and eventually weaned himself off the ventilator. It was a very traumatic, challenging and worrying time for us all.

Sadly, there were to be no more miracles.

On Friday evening 8th September 2017, Barry’s 32nd day in Cardiac Intensive Care, shortly after I had said good night and told him that I loved him, he suffered a catastrophic subdural brain haemorrhage, thought to be caused by a clot in his venous sinuses pressing on his brain. Barry had completed an Advanced Health Care Plan, also indicating his wishes as a registered organ donor. Barry spent two days on a breathing machine, and following declaration of brain death, one of his kidneys was retrieved and later transplanted into a recipient who had been on dialysis for two years. It is a small comfort to our family to know that Barry lives on in someone else, as well as in our hearts and memories.

Following his dissection, Barry and I became donors to The Baird Institute, as we and our family were so grateful to Professor Jeremy and the specialist Baird Institute surgeons for their caring monitoring, skills and knowledge to prolong his life, which enabled me and our family to have Barry in our lives for another 29 months after his dissection.

I miss Barry every day, and since his death, I have done my utmost to raise awareness in the community of the symptoms of aortic dissection and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. In addition, I have continued to financially support The Baird Institute and its wonderful work in research, development and training (causes very close to Barry’s heart – pardon the pun) as a Partner in Research, making donations to their appeals and including provision of a bequest to the Institute in my will.

I feel immensely excited and hopeful about the current research being undertaken by The Baird Institute, as I consider it has the potential to save many more lives, thus allowing families more precious time with their loved ones.

Presentation at the International Conference on Robotic Surgery

Presentation by Dr. Abraham Rizkalla, Cardiothoracic Registrar

In March this year, I had the pleasure of attending the International Conference on Robotic Surgery held in Sydney. Being supported by The Baird Institute and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, I was able to present the latest advances in minimally invasive robotic cardiothoracic surgery, focussing on the techniques and nuances of robotic surgery.

I presented two cardiac and two thoracic surgical procedures completed by Professors Tristan Yan and Chris Cao at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, who routinely take advantage of the faster recovery and reduced pain offered by robotic surgery. Each of the four cases were highly engaging, involving removal of a tumour from inside the heart, repairing a leaking heart valve, removing an early lung tumour, and a complex removal of a tumour within the lung airways without having to sacrifice any lung tissue.

The audience found the operative videos fascinating and acknowledged the excellence of the surgeons involved by awarding ‘best presentation’ for the removal of heart tumour. I am deeply grateful for the supporters of The Baird Institute for giving me the opportunity to present this research on one of the frontiers of cardiothoracic surgery.

The Collins Family Donate $20,000 to the Baird Institute

In May 2003 I suffered a heart attack that took everyone by surprise.

I was 52 years old and had never had a sign. I was fit, having run the previous 15 ‘City to Surfs’ with times around 60 minutes. I ate healthily, have never smoked and there was no history in the family – although there is now!

On that eventful evening my family were arriving for a dinner party, Christine and I were leaving for America the following week.  They were all very traumatized to see the paramedics stretchering me out the door wearing an oxygen mask.

Such was the impact, my 3-year-old grandson would not sleep for several days until his Mum brought him up to the hospital to see that Pop was okay.

9 days later, I was deemed stable enough for the triple bypass operation performed by our very own Chair of The Baird Institute, Prof. Paul Bannon.  After the operation, he advised Christine that “the operation went very well”.  She says those reassuring words got her though the forthcoming weeks. Subsequent angiograms have shown very little change to the grafted arteries, confirming that success.

On the 20-year anniversary of my bypass surgery in May 2023, the family were determined to make a contribution to The Baird Institute. On each anniversary we make a donation but they wanted to celebrate this milestone – dad/pop still here for another 20 years!

Our family visited The Baird Institute’s headquarters at the RPA hospital at the invitation of Catherine Rush and Paul Bannon. We saw firsthand the work they, and their staff put into heart and lung research and their determination to improve medical procedures and processes.

The knowledge and the absolute dedication of Paul and his team was something we will never forget; my 2 grandchildren were left just so inspired.  This family is so grateful for all this good work and will continue to support The Baird Institute including provision in our wills.

We are proud and humbled to have been given the opportunity to make a small contribution to such an important and worthwhile institution.

There can be no greater satisfaction in this world than saving lives and sending the patients home to their loved ones.

Research Update – May 2023

Dr Robert Hume

I joined the Baird institute 6 months ago as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time thus far. The knowledgeable team and access to rare and precious samples, as well as the high-end technology available at my disposal has enabled me to really thrive. Projects are really progressing at a remarkable rate and big publications are on the horizon.

One exciting project I am currently working on is the synthesis and implantation of an aorta replacement graft. For this work we are currently in the designing and engineering phase for a biodegradable graft that would encourage the patient’s own body to regrow new aorta tissue. The idea behind this is to replace damaged blood vessels, such as the aorta, with our graft so the body can heal itself by replacing the graft with new tissue, thus leaving nothing synthetic behind. This is a large project which will span multiple years but if successful will be on the cutting edge of vessel replacements and aorta research.

All of this work would not be even remotely possible without the kind and generous gifts of our donors, to which we are eternally grateful.

Robert’s 3-year fellowship has been generously funded by the Bird Family.  Rob Bird died of an Aortic Dissection in 20?? and his family have made a commitment to funding aortic disease research at The Baird Institute.  As a result, we have named the aortic research program after Rob Bird.

RPA – The TV Show

The RPA series on Channel 9 follows patients who bravely and generously share their stories. Filmed at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown, Sydney, this reality program shows the everyday workings of this major hospital, detailing the sicknesses and operation procedures of its patients.

In Episode 2 of the new series, which aired on 3 April 2023, Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Baird Institute board member, A/Professor Christopher Cao had a starring role alongside his patient, Theo. After getting COVID, doctors discovered during a routine scan that father of 3, Theo, had a large lesion (the size of a small fist) in his chest.

Dr Cao explained to Theo that most surgeons would do a full chest opening – a sternotomy – to remove the tumour, but he on the other hand, typically utilises minimally invasive robotic surgery for this procedure – a revolutionary approach. During surgery, Dr Cao makes three small cuts of about 8mm on the side of the chest and inserts ports into the holes. Through the ports, Dr Cao is able to insert a number of instruments that he controls to separate the lesion from the heart and blood vessels and chest wall. This robotic surgery means that Theo will be in hospital for just 2 or 3 days, on painkillers for 2 to 3 weeks and he can go back to his physical activities in a much shorter period of time than if the lesion had been removed via a full chest opening. Luckily, all turned out well for Theo. See this episode, and all others in the series, on 9Now.

James Wadland Night of Hearts 2023

The 9th Annual JWNOH was held at Sharkies at Kareela on 2nd April, 2023. The event is held in honour of my late husband, James Wadland, who at 35yrs of age passed away from an aortic aneurysm in 2013. Each year on his birthday, the event raises funds for The Baird Institute to support the continuation of their ground-breaking research into heart and lung disease. It is an opportunity for family and friends to come together and remember our beloved James and his legacy.

As a family we were suddenly left without a husband and father and our world became unbearable and devastating. Discovering the cause of his death was shocking knowing that his bicuspid valve was genetic and that it could have been prevented. Working with The Baird Institute has given me an insight into the importance of research in heart disease and genetics. A not-for-profit organization that relies purely on donations from its supporters is remarkable.

The Baird Institute has given me the opportunity to channel my grief into raising awareness of the work they do and to support research that continues to save lives so that other families don’t go through the trauma of losing a loved one. As a mum of two children knowing that even though we have been forever affected by such a devastating loss, we can choose to make a difference!

Please join our JWNOH team in this year’s City2Surf on 13th August 2023 and let’s make a difference together!

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Ms. Jivani Murugan


Jivani is a Policy Officer employed at the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW. She is a Criminal Justice graduate from Macquarie University and is passionate about reducing health inequities for all communities. Jivani was born with a congenital heart condition and has had three open heart surgeries since her first at 10 days old. Her most recent, at age 23, introduced her to The Baird Institute and Professor Bannon.

Jivani campaigned for our 2021 Mid-year Appeal to fundraise and spread awareness of cardiothoracic surgery. She is an advocate for heart health and uses her position as a patient to raise awareness in the community and continues to showcase how surgery has saved her life. Jivani has enrolled in a Master of Public Health at Macquarie University commencing in 2023.

Mr. Ross Saunders

Ross is a business leader based in Sydney and originating from the United Kingdom. He currently runs the Australia & New Zealand operation for a global manufacturer with specialisation in business transformation, governance & compliance, program management, and strategic planning.

With particular interest in organisational transformation, Ross has led business and digital transformation programs across several global and national organisations including RS Group plc, Wesfarmers Industrial & Safety and Essentra plc.

Notably, Ross is also a post-operative recipient of valve-sparing aortic root replacement surgery, provided by Prof. Bannon and his team at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney.

Associate Professor Christopher Cao

BSc (Med), MBBS (1st Hon), PhD, FRACS

Associate Professor Christopher Cao is a Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Concord Hospital, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Macquarie University Hospital, and Sydney Adventist Hospital.

Christopher graduated with First Class Honours from the University of New South Wales and scored 99/99 in both steps of the United States Medical Licensing Exam. This was followed by a pre-internship at Yale University, USA. After his cardiothoracic surgical training with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Sydney, his specialist Fellowship training was completed at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, USA, the world’s oldest and largest private cancer center. He was then invited to be a Faculty Member in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at New York University Medical Center, where he gained additional experience in minimally invasive cardiac surgery as well as heart and lung transplantation.

Associate Professor Cao has authored or co-authored more than 100 articles in high-impact international scientific journals and textbooks. His PhD with Sydney University was focused on the surgical management of pleural and lung cancers. He is the first author in one of the largest international registries on robotic surgery to date. His clinical interests include minimally invasive and robotic thoracic and cardiac surgery.

Dr Sean Lal

BMedSci(Hons), MBBS(Hons), MPhil(Med), PhD(Med), FRACP

Dr Sean Lal is an Academic in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney and a Consultant Cardiologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, sub-specialising in heart failure and cardiac MRI. He is also the Chair of the Heart Failure Council for the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Sean completed his undergraduate degree in Medical Science with first class honours at the University of Sydney, receiving full academic scholarship. He pursued his graduate Medical Degree (MBBS) and a Master of Medicine by research (MPhil) at the University of Sydney, where he was awarded the Dean’s Scholarship, the Medical Foundation Scholarship and the University of Sydney Bercovici Medal. As a medical doctor, Sean completed all of his general and specialty clinical training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. During his cardiology training, he was awarded a National Churchill Fellowship to study mechanisms of cardiac regeneration at Harvard Medical School.

Sean has a clinical and research interest in heart failure. For his PhD in this field, he was awarded a combined National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and National Heart Foundation (NHF) Scholarship, as well as the NHMRC and Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) scholarship for research excellence.

He was also awarded a Commonwealth Endeavour Postgraduate Fellowship to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he undertook proof of concept studies demonstrating the intrinsic regenerative capacity of the human heart following myocardial infarction; whilst also gaining clinical experience in acute heart failure management in the cardiac ICU at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Sean is the Director of the Sydney Heart Bank at the University of Sydney, which is one of the largest biorepositories of cryopreserved human heart tissue in the world. He is the Head of the Cardiac Research Laboratory in the School of Medical Sciences at the Charles Perkins Centre, which focuses on basic science and translational research into human heart failure.

Dr Brian Plunkett

Dr Brian Plunkett is an Australian-trained Cardiothoracic Surgeon with a special interest in transcatheter valve procedures and minimally invasive cardiac surgery.

Following the completion of his Royal Australasian College of Surgeons training, he undertook a Mitral Valve Repair fellowship in Edmonton, Canada, followed by dual Harvard Fellowships in Advanced Cardiac Surgery and Transcatheter Structural Heart Procedures.

He was awarded the inaugural Michael Davidson Structural Heart Fellowship by the American Thoracic Surgery Foundation, making him one of only a handful of surgeons formally trained in Transcatheter Structural Heart procedures.

He is the surgical lead of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital transcatheter valve program, supervisor of cardiothoracic surgical training, and surgical director of the ECMO program. Dr. Plunkett’s areas of specialisation include all transcatheter valve procedures (MitraClip, TriClip, TAVI, TMVI, paravalvular leak closure), aortic valve replacement, mitral and tricuspid valve repair, all-arterial coronary bypass surgery, atrial fibrillation surgery, and pacemaker, cardiac defibrillator and resynchronisation device implantation.

He has been involved in several first-in-man procedures since his return from the USA, and is a champion of novel technologies to improve patient safety in cardiac procedures at Sydney Adventist Hospital.

Dr Benjamin Robinson

Mr Benjamin Robinson is an adult cardiothoracic surgeon with a long association with The Baird Institute. Whilst a medical student, he completed honours research with the Baird on outcomes in early-stage non-small cell lung cancer, under the supervision of Professor Brian McCaughan. He was awarded a Baird Institute Fellowship for this work. He subsequently trained in cardiothoracic surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and was the inaugural Baird Institute – Stanford University exchange scholar. Mr Robinson later completed a cardiac surgery clinical fellowship at Bart’s Heart Centre in London. He then worked as a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, before returning to Sydney to take up appointments at Royal Prince Alfred, Concord Repatriation General and Strathfield Private Hospitals.

Mr Robinson has experience in the spectrum of adult cardiac surgery, including coronary, valvular and aortic disease, as well as in general thoracic surgery. He has specific clinical interest in minimal access aortic valve surgery, arterial coronary grafting and aortic surgery. He has completed postgraduate study at Cambridge University and has academic interests in surgical outcomes research and epidemiology.

Professor Tristan Yan

Dr Tristan Yan is the Head of Department of Thoracic Surgery at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. Professor Yan graduated from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) with Bachelor of Science (Medicine), Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. He also completed three postgraduate higher degrees, Master of Surgery (USyd), Doctor of Medicine (UNSW) and Doctor of Philosophy (UNSW). He was trained at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney and then obtained Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Following advanced specialty fellowships in the United States, England, Scotland and Germany, he specializes in minimally invasive cardiovascular surgery, and minimally invasive thoracic surgery.

Professor Tristan Yan is dedicated to surgical innovations. He applies the latest pioneering techniques to minimize surgical trauma and access sites and thus achieves a more rapid and comfortable recovery for his patients. He first completed his general surgical fellowship with Paul Sugarbaker in the United States, one of the most prominent surgeons in the world. He was then closely trained by the pioneer of Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery, Mr. William Walker, in Edinburgh, where he mastered the technical expertise of video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) to perform complex lung resections, such as lobectomy and segmentectomy.

Associate Professor Chris Cao

After completing his medical degree at the University of New South Wales with First Class Honours, Christopher attended his pre-internship at Yale University, USA. He scored 99/99 for his United States Medical Licensing Exam, and completed his Cardiothoracic surgical training in Sydney. Concurrently, Christopher completed his PhD degree with Sydney University, focusing on the surgical management of lung and pleural diseases.

After completing his surgical training with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Christopher was invited to a Fellowship at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City, one of the largest cancer centres in the world. This was followed by a Fellowship in New York University, where he was asked to join the Faculty in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. His fellowship was focused on robotic and minimally invasive thoracic surgery, treating lung cancers, mediastinal tumours, mesothelioma, and other lung-related diseases. During his 18-month Fellowship at MSKCC and NYU, Christopher was fortunate to work with some of the leading international surgeons, gaining invaluable clinical and academic experience.

With over 100 publications in international peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, A/Prof Cao has a keen interest in thoracic surgery, particularly the treatment of lung cancers through minimally invasive surgery. He has made more than 50 presentations in international meetings as a Faculty Member in Paris, New York, Edinburgh, Taipei, Sydney, and Guangzhou. Christopher has personally supervised students and residents from Sydney University, University of New South Wales, Cornell University and New York University.

He is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, and works as a Consultant Surgeon at Lifehouse, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Concord Hospital, Sydney Adventist Hospital, and Macquarie University Hospital.

Dr Mike Byrom

Dr Michael Byrom is a modern, innovative cardiothoracic surgeon with training and experience in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Particular areas of expertise include:

  • Truly minimally-invasive surgery to the aortic valve that avoids complete division of the breast bone (hemi-sternotomy, right anterior mini-thoracotomy); allowing faster recovery and return to normal activities
  • Mitral valve repair with excellent repair rates and outcomes – resulting from diverse training in France, Italy, and the United Kingdom
  • Avoidance of the need for anticoagulation through valve selection, valve repair, and surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation
  • Minimally-invasive lung resection, avoiding a large thoracotomy wound and enabling faster recovery and return to normal activities with reduced pain and discomfort
  • Sternal and rib titanium plate fixation of chronic non-united fractures
  • Performing these procedures while minimising risk of complications, allowing Dr Byrom to achieve world-class results for his patients

Dr Matthew Bayfield

Dr Matthew Bayfield is an extremely experienced cardiothoracic surgeon with a broad range of skills and special interests within his field. He has performed more than 6000 heart and lung procedures. Dr Bayfield has hospital appointments at Strathfield Private Hospital, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Concord Hospital. His surgical interests include:

  • Coronary artery surgery: Dr Bayfield is one of Australia’s busiest coronary surgeons; with particular focus on minimal access incisions, and use of in-situ bilateral internal mammary artery grafts for enhanced longevity of the benefit of coronary revascularization.
  • Aortic root and arch surgery: Dr Bayfield has been performing aortic root and arch surgery since 1995, when he completed a Cardiovascular Fellowship at the University of Virginia in the USA. His focus is on o minimal access incisions, short cardiopulmonary bypass times, and for arch surgery antegrade cerebral perfusion with cerebral oxygen saturation monitoring.
  • Surgery for emphysema / CAL: Dr Bayfield was trained in open lung reduction surgery whilst doing a fellowship at the University of Virginia in 1995. Since that time he has developed thoracoscopic techniques for the procedure, and since 2003 been an implanter of endobronchial valves as a minimally invasive alternative to surgery. With over 100 endobronchial valve case experience, and long term follow-up of these patients, he is one of Australia’s most experienced endobronchial valve proceduralist.
  • Correction of pectus defects: Dr Bayfield has a special interest in correction of both pectus and carinatum defects, with techniques including implantation of Nuss bar under video-assisted control, and open radical sternochondroplasty.Lung cancer surgery: Dr Bayfield has been in surgical partnershio with Professor Brian McCaughan since 1996, and was trained by him as a registrar. Prof McCaughan is Australia’s most experienced and prolific lung cancer surgeon, has published widely on many aspects of its treatment, and has been awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to health in respect to his work on malignant mesothelioma.
  • Pacemaker and defibrillator implantation: Dr Bayfield was trained in device implantation as a young surgeon in the 1980’s and has developed skills to ensure that a device can be safely and reliably implanted even in the most difficult case with minimal risk. He was trained in cardiac resynchronzation therapy techniques at the introduction of that technology. He has regular pacemaker and defibrillator implantation lists at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Strathfield Private Hospital, and Concord Hospital.
  • Surgical treatment for ischaemic cardiomyopathy: Dr Bayfield trained in heart and lung transplantation whilst at the University of Virginia. With this skill base he has been able to develop a multi-faceted approach to treat patients whose hearts have been damaged by coronary artery disease (heart attack). These therapies include coronary artery bypass, mitral valve repair, and implantation of CRT defibrillators.

Professor Paul Bannon

Professor Paul Bannon is an adult cardiothoracic surgeon of international standing with clinical appointments at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Concord and Strathfield Private Hospital. At Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Professor Bannon is the Head of Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Co-Chair of the Institute for Academic Surgery, Director of the Robotic Training Institute and the current President of the Medical Officers Association. At the University of Sydney, he holds the inaugural Professorial Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Bosch Chair of Surgery. He is also the current Head of the Discipline of Surgery for the Sydney Medical School and the Academic Director of the newly opened Translational Research Facility or Hybrid Theatre at the Charles Perkins Centre. He is the Chair of The Baird Institute for Applied Heart and Lung Surgical Research. Professionally he is the Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons (ANZSCTS) and in that role serves on the steering Committee for the ANZSCTS National Cardiac Surgical Database, the National TAVI Accreditation Committee and is the Cardiac Surgical Chair of the Medical Benefits Schedule review program. For the Ministry of Health NSW he has been in the role of Co-Chair of the Cardiac Devices Committee for the Agency of Clinical Innovation.

Professor Bannon graduated from the University of Sydney in 1987, completed a PhD from the same institution in 1998 and was awarded a FRACS (CTh) in 1998. He has a particular passion for translational research in the areas of congenital aortic and mitral valve disease, biomaterials and biocompatibility, limitation of blood product usage in cardiac surgery, the inflammatory response to bypass and the development of academic surgical careers. He has authored or co-authored more than 120 scientific papers, published in peer-reviewed journals. He is co-editor-in-chief of the Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery, a Medline listed multimedia journal of cardiothoracic surgery. Professor Bannon has a reputation as the ‘surgeons surgeon’ and has particular expertise in surgery of the aortic root and arch, high-risk re-do surgery, total-arterial coronary artery bypass grafting and surgery for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

Professor Richmond W. Jeremy


Professor Richmond Jeremy’s medical and cardiology training were at the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

His clinical research career includes a PhD on coronary physiology and a post doctoral research Fellowship at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore before returning to the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

University of Sydney responsibilities have included service as Associate Dean Sydney, Medical School, Head of Central Clinical School and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Campus Infrastructure and Services.

Professional responsibilities have included service as Editor-in-Chief of Heart Lung and Circulation, membership of Boards on National Heart Foundation (NSW), Royal Australasian College of Physicians (Adult Medicine Division) and Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Mr. Shaun Clyne

MA LLM (Syd)

Shaun is a corporate lawyer based in Sydney. He is the Australian Head of the Mergers & Acquisitions practice. He regularly advises on a wide range of corporate and securities law issues for public listed companies including takeovers, schemes of arrangement and capital raisings. He advises on Australian Stock Exchange compliance matters and regularly acts for both bidders and targets in connection with takeover bids and schemes of arrangement (hostile and friendly) for ASX-listed companies.

A leading practitioner in equity capital markets, Shaun has also advised numerous companies on their initial public offerings and capital raisings (rights issues, AREO’s, placements, employee share and options plans).

Shaun has presented at a variety of seminars and conferences and published several papers in his areas of specialisation.

His areas of expertise are mergers and acquisitions, corporate advisory and capital markets.

Ms. Joanne Wade


Joanne Wade has been a plaintiff lawyer since her admission to the Supreme Court of NSW in 1996 and has worked in asbestos litigation for well over 18 years. Joanne is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law and prides herself on her communication with her clients and, on many occasions, her clients’ families. She understands the importance and need to handle all her cases with the utmost diligence and compassion. Joanne has acted for hundreds of people suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and asbestos related pleural disease. Her clients are everyday people who have worked hard all their lives and deserve justice. Joanne acted for Steven Dunning in his claim against BHP Billiton Limited in the Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW (Dunning vBHP Billiton Limited [2014] NSWDDT 3). Mr Dunning suffered from malignant pleural mesothelioma and in a landmark decision; the court awarded Mr Dunning the highest amount for damages for pain and suffering in NSW. Joanne went on to represent Mr Dunning in the Appeal before the NSW Court ofAppeal where BHP’s appeal was unanimously dismissed (BHPBilliton Limited v Dunning [2015] NSWCA 55). Joanne has also successfully acted for the late Bevan McGrath in his claim against Allianz Australia Insurance Limited, for his condition of asbestos related pleural disease and ensured that case was resolved on a provisional damages basis. Mr McGrath went on to develop mesothelioma, one of only a small number of cases where he then brought a second claim for further damages because his first claim was resolved on a provisional basis. Joanne successfully acted for Mr McGrath in both his claims and the late Mr McGrath successfully received further damages in a judgment by the court (McGrath v Allianz AustraliaInsurance Limited [2011] NSWDDT). The judgement was upheld on appeal (Allianz Australia Insurance Limited v McGrath [2011]NSWCA 153).

“It is with great privilege to work with people suffering from asbestos illnesses, and the greatest satisfaction formed is securing a result for those people to help ease their suffering, and to know their families will be looked after.”Joanne takes great pride in the work Slater and Gordon have undertaken in representing victims of asbestos disease, unions and asbestos support groups, including the work of Ken Fowlie in 2004 who acted for the ACTU and asbestos support groups in negotiations with James Hardie to secure an agreement which will ensure current and future victims of asbestos –related diseases would be fully compensated for years to come.Joanne is a passionate advocate and one thing that separatesJoanne from other lawyers is perspective, with her own father being exposed to asbestos working at Cockatoo IslandDockyard, she is in the unique position of seeing it from both angles.“My clients are generally people who have worked hard all their lives, and are lovely people who deserve justice. I am glad to fight for that justice and to make a difference to their lives.”


  • Asbestos Claims
  • Dust Disease Board Appeals
  • Dust Diseases Claims
  • Compensation Claims

Career History

  • Slater and Gordon since 2008 (practice group leader)
  • 2000-2007 Watkins Tapsell (partner)
  • 1996-2000 Watkins Tapsell (lawyer)
  • 1992-1995 NSW Crown Solicitors Office (paralegal clerk)

Professor Clifford F. Hughes


Professor Cliff Hughes is President of the International Society for Quality in Health Care. Until March 2015 he was the Chief Executive Officer of the Clinical Excellence Commission, a statutory health corporation established in 2004 to build capacity and design programs to promote and support improvement in quality and safety for health services across NSW. He has been chairman or member of numerous Australian state and federal committees associated with quality, safety and research in clinical practice for health care services. He has held various positions in the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, including Senior Examiner in Cardiothoracic Surgery and member of the College Council. In November 2015 the College bestowed upon him the highest award given to a Fellow in his lifetime, the Sir Hugh Devine Medal. He has received awards for his national and international work including an Alumni Award from the University of NSW. He has led five medical teams to China and has performed cardiac surgery in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh. In 1998, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) in recognition of his contributions and “service to cardiac surgery, international relationships and the community”. In June 2014, the University of NSW conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Science, its peak academic award.

Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite


Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite, BA, MIR (Hons), MBA, DipLR, PhD, FIML, FCHSM, FFPHRCP (UK), FAcSS (UK), Hon FRACMA, FAHMS is Founding Director, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Director, Centre for Healthcare Resilience and Implementation Science, and Professor of Health Systems Research, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University. His research examines the changing nature of health systems, attracting funding of more than AUD$131 million (EUR€81.8 million, GBP£70.8 million).

He has contributed over 470 peer-reviewed publications presented at international and national conferences on more than 915 occasions, including 97 keynote addresses. His research appears in journals such as JAMA, British Medical Journal, The Lancet, BMC Medicine, BMJ Quality & Safety, and International Journal for Quality in Health Care. He has received numerous national and international awards for his teaching and research.

He is interested in the Anthropocene and the impact of human activity on human and species’ health, population and climate. He blogs at

Further details are available at his Wikipedia entry:

Ms. Michelle Sloane


Michelle’s background is in psychology and human resources working for many years in senior executive positions at Westpac, IBM and Unilever. Twenty years ago she established a human resources management consulting practice, Diversity Management, and led that organisation for 16 years. Michelle has worked extensively in the areas of change management, organisational analysis and design, human resource management, program management, stakeholder engagement as well as leadership development and training.

Michelle has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Technology, a Master of Arts (Psychology) from the University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New South Wales. In addition Michelle is a Graduate of the Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Michelle has also been a Councillor for the City of Willoughby in Sydney. During her time as Councillor and Deputy Mayor, she has worked tirelessly with the local community advocating across a range of local and state-wide issues. Her interest in local government was developed over many years as a very active volunteer in her local community.

Professor Paul G. Bannon


Professor Paul Bannon is the Chair of The Baird Institute for Applied Heart and Lung Surgical Research, a not-for-profit medical research institute established in 2001, to improve the outcomes and better the lives of those undergoing heart and lung surgery.

He is Head of Department, Cardiothoracic Surgery at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney and holds the Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Bosch Chair of Surgery, University of Sydney. He has performed over 2500 adult cardiac surgical procedures ranging from coronary artery bypass to complex aortic root and arch reconstructions. He is President of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgeons and is the Society representative to the Cardiac Surgery National Database. He is the Co-Chair of the Institute of Academic Surgery at RPAH where he also oversees the robotic surgical program. He heads the National MBS Taskforce Review for Cardiac Surgery and has held various positions in the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Professor Bannon’s teaching responsibilities are currently to all years of the Graduate Medical Program at Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney. He supervises local and international Doctorate, Masters and Honours students as well as international elective students. He is the Co Editor-in-Chief of The Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery and a Director of the CORE Group for International Collaborative Research. Professor Bannon has published widely in books, journals and conference proceedings on cardiothoracic surgery, basic science and evidence based medicine.

He has a particular passion for translational research in the areas of congenital aortic and mitral valve disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, biomaterials and biocompatibility, limitation of blood product usage in cardiac surgery, the inflammatory response to bypass and the development of academic surgical careers. He is a current Chief Investigator on NHMRC and NHF grants for biomaterials and congenital heart disease research as well as a current NHMRC CRE grant on mechanical circulatory support. His role in the CRE is to produce NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines and measure their dissemination, adoption and outcomes. He personally oversees more than $500,000 worth of research funding annually. His Department currently runs 16 clinical trials amongst many other laboratory and clinically based projects.