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[December 18, 2006]

           Wilson Ko, MD, has joined SUNY Downstate Medical Center as chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. He comes to SUNY Downstate from New York Hospital, Queens, where, as director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department, he introduced advanced technology and was responsible for furthering the academic and research agenda.

         “I am delighted to welcome to Downstate a surgeon with so distinguished a record of leadership as Dr. Ko,” said Michael Zenilman, MD, Clarence and Mary Dennis Professor and Chairman of Surgery. “We are proud of Downstate’s record in treating all the people of Brooklyn, regardless of the difficulty of their cases. Dr. Ko is committed to maintaining that tradition. He will strongly enhance the services our Cardiothoracic Surgery Division provides.”      

           At New York Hospital, Queens, Dr. Ko introduced off-pump beating heart bypass, port-access “key-hole” valve surgery, laser trans-myocardial revascularization for advanced coronary artery disease, and endoscopic leg vein harvest. Dr. Zenilman added,  “At Downstate, Dr. Ko has already made plans to work with our cardiologists to solidify our minimally invasive program, and to develop one for the treatment of atrial fibrillation.  He also will maintain a strong emphasis on aortic and thoracic surgery.”

         Dr. Ko received his medical degree from Chicago Medical School, where he was valedictorian and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of California in Berkeley.  

         Dr. Ko trained in general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at New York Presbyterian-Hospital/Cornell University Medical School.  He joined the faculty at Cornell in 1995 and, while on staff at Cornell and its affiliated hospitals, also served as director of cardiac surgery at New York Hospital, Queens, beginning in 1999. He is the author of more than 45 peer-reviewed articles on new surgical techniques, including ablative surgery for atrial fibrillation, thoracic procedures for emphysema, and cardiac surgery in the elderly.    

           A native of Hong Kong, at age three and a half Dr Ko’s life was saved with an emergency tracheotomy performed by a local physician, an event Dr. Ko credits with convincing him at an early age to become a surgeon: “I wanted to give back to people what had been given to me.” Dr. Ko came to the United States with his family when he was 12, settling in San Francisco.

           Enthusiastic about his new appointment at Downstate, Dr. Ko said, “There are only three cardiothoracic surgery programs in the borough. I want to ensure that the best care available in the metropolitan region is right here in Brooklyn."

            SUNY Downstate’s Division of Adult Cardiothoracic Surgery specializes in both traditional and less invasive coronary artery bypass grafting and valve repair and replacement. Under the late Dr. Clarence Dennis's leadership, cardiopulmonary bypass techniques were first developed at Downstate.  More recently, Downstate’s highly specialized cardiac surgical team was the first in Brooklyn to perform minimally invasive mitral and aortic valve replacements utilizing Heartport technology. The division also employs the use of TMR (trans myocardial laser) revascularization of the myocardium and is responsible for performing thoracic surgery and various specialized procedures.

            SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the only full academic medical center in Brooklyn, Staten Island, or Queens, comprising a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health Related Professions, School of Graduate Studies, and the 376-bed University Hospital of Brooklyn. SUNY Downstate also offers a master of public health degree and is a major research center.