UCLA Heart Surgeon Earns Highest Honor From University of California

Dr. Hillel Laks (Beverly Hills, Calif.), professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, was awarded a distinguished UCLA Chancellor's Professorship April 30 at a reception in his honor at the Regency Club in Westwood, Calif. The University of California, by policy and tradition, reserves the title "Chancellor's Professor" for scholars of international distinction who are recognized and respected as teachers of exceptional ability. The criteria for selecting holders of the professorships are distinguished achievement of the highest level in research, teaching and service. "Hillel is internationally recognized for his creative and pioneering surgical approaches to complex heart disease and his willingness to undertake the most challenging adult and pediatric cases," said UCLA Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams. "I am pleased to honor him for his numerous and significant contributions, which have advanced the field of cardiothoracic surgery." Among his extensive list of accomplishments, Laks pioneered many surgical procedures that have become standard worldwide, including a technique that uses Gore-Tex patches to reinforce the walls of severely enlarged hearts. In 1984, Laks founded UCLA's Heart Transplant Program, which is now one of the largest and most recognized programs in the world. In 1986, he started the UCLA Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant Program. He also began the pediatric mechanical assist device program, which is the largest of its kind.  In addition, Laks developed UCLA's revolutionary alternate-recipient heart transplant program in 1992, which allows older and higher-risk patients who would not qualify for a heart transplant to receive hearts that otherwise would not be used. He also served as principal investigator for the UCLA Total Artificial Heart Program and the Jarvik 2000 heart assist device trials, among many other research studies. Over the years, Laks has recruited and supported a distinguished faculty, known for excellence in clinical work and research, and has trained a generation of surgeons, each of whom has made a significant mark in practice or academics.  He has donated his skill and support to children worldwide through humanitarian missions, traveling to Russia, Peru, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and many other countries to perform complex heart surgeries. "It is impossible to overstate the depth of Hillel's personal commitment or the countless hours he has devoted to his patients and his work," said Dr. Ronald Busuttil, who holds UCLA's William P. Longmire Jr. Chair in Surgery and is professor and executive chair of the department of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "His presence and character have contributed significantly to the growth and identity of our medical center over the past quarter century." For more information on UCLA's division of cardiothoracic surgery, please visit www.surgery.medsch.ucla.edu/cardiac. -UCLA- AA197