John H. Calhoon, MD, professor and chair of the President’s Council for Excellence in Surgery at UT Health San Antonio, was elected President of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) during the organization’s annual meeting on Jan. 30, 2022.
Dr. Calhoon is the founding chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the health science center, as well as professor and head of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.
“To be elected by one’s peers is about a flattering an honor as one can receive,” said Dr. Calhoon in the announcement released by STS. “This is an exceptional opportunity to work with the STS surgeons and team leaders to make decisions and take strategic action to hopefully improve the society and our specialty.”
Among Dr. Calhoon’s goals for his time as president are enhancing the STS National Database and helping bring cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists together to improve care for patients with cardiovascular disease. Also important to him is addressing Medicare reimbursement challenges and advancing other advocacy priorities intended to promote the specialty and its patients.
Dr. Calhoon is both a congenital and adult cardiac surgeon. Few surgeons in the country have these combined areas of interest and ability.
Board-certified in Thoracic Surgery and Congenital Cardiac Surgery, Dr. Calhoon earned his medical degree at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, in 1981. He completed residencies in general surgery and thoracic surgery at UT Health San Antonio before serving as the chief resident in pediatric cardiac surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts. In 1989, Dr. Calhoon returned to UT Health San Antonio, where he’s been practicing ever since.
The team Dr. Calhoon leads is known nationally and internationally for their results and care. His specific areas of expertise include:
- Complex aortic root reconstruction and replacement.
- Complex (often reoperative) coronary artery bypass.
- Treating severe heart valve and heart infections with surgery.
- Tracheal and bronchial injury or tumor surgery and management.
- Ross Procedure and complications of the same (reconstruction of failed prior Ross autograft operations).
With interests in complex adult and congenital cardiac surgery, heart and lung transplantation and improving patient care and education for surgeons, Dr. Calhoon has authored or co-authored more than 250 peer-reviewed journal articles, abstracts and book chapters. He also has participated in hundreds of presentations on these topics.
Dedication to the profession
“Becoming a member of our largest thoracic surgical society was a significant milestone for me over 30 years ago,” Dr. Calhoon said, when named first vice president and president-elect of STS in 2021, noting the important work of the society in advocating for surgeons in the U.S. and other nations and coordinating international charitable outreach and education around the globe.
An STS member since 1992, Dr. Calhoon has served on numerous leadership bodies and as a member of various workforce groups for the society focused on critical care, e-learning and educational innovation, and health policy, reform and advocacy.
Dr. Calhoon has held prominent leadership positions in other cardiothoracic surgery organizations, including the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, Thoracic Surgery Directors Association, American Board of Thoracic Surgery and he Thoracic Surgery Foundation, the charitable arm of STS.
“Being selected by peers to lead a number of thoracic organizations has been tremendously rewarding,” said Dr. Calhoon. “There is nothing more gratifying than having people who you respect ask for your help or advice.”
Dr. Calhoon has also served on the San Antonio chapter of the American Heart Association and the San Antonio Surgical Society. He was a founding member and now Emeritus Board Member of HeartGift San Antonio, an organization that sponsors charitable lifesaving congenital heart repair on kids from around the globe.
The Society of Thoracic Surgeons is a nonprofit organization founded in 1964. Today STS represents more than 7,600 surgeons, researchers and allied health care professionals worldwide dedicated to ensuring the best possible outcomes for surgeries of the heart, lungs and esophagus, as well as other surgical procedures within the chest. The society’s mission is to advance cardiothoracic surgeons’ delivery of the highest quality patient care through collaboration, education, research and advocacy.