Cardiothoracic Surgery

Edward Y. Sako, MD, PhD

Professor and Vice Chair, J. Kent Trinkle Chair in Thoracic Surgery, Surgical Director in Lung Transplant Program

Personal Statement:

Dr. Sako’s clinical interests lie primarily in the field of adult cardiac surgery and lung transplantation. Within the realm of adult cardiac surgery, he is most passionate and experienced in mitral valve repair and has by association become known for his skill in all of mitral surgery as well as the surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation. Other professional interests include surgical education both in theory and in practice and clinical outcomes research. The ability to be involved in these many aspects has been the major driver for an academic career.

Dr. Sako received his medical degree and general surgical training from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. He then completed a residency in Thoracic Surgery at the University of Michigan. Attracted by the then relatively new specialty of lung transplantation, he joined the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Health Science Center was a pioneer in the development of this specialty.

Most of his non-transplant clinical time was spent in adult cardiac surgery at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, which had an affiliation with the Division. He became Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and later, the Chief of the Surgery Section at the VA. In 2012, the VA affiliation with our department ended and Dr. Sako was named the Chief of the Division of Adult Cardiac Surgery within our department and at University Hospital. In 2018 he has stepped down from those roles and returned to be the Surgical Director of the Lung Transplant program.


BA University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts 1974-1978
MD University of Minnesota School of Medicine 1978 - 1982
PhD University of Minnesota Graduate School (Surgery) 1984 – 1990

Postgraduate Training:
General Surgery University of Minnesota Hospitals 1982 - 1990
Thoracic Surgery University of Michigan 1990 - 1992


Dr. Sako’s research interests have been wide ranging and date back to his time as a general surgery resident which included 3 years of dedicated research time studying myocardial metabolism and the response to ischemia.  This evolved in his early days at the Health Science Center to studies of lung preservation as it applied to transplantation.

Dr. Sako has also been involved in several large, multi-center cooperative trials including the VA study of on vs off pump coronary artery bypass surgery and the BARI 2D trial examining optimal therapy for diabetic patients with coronary artery disease for which he served as the surgical lead.  Current projects include lung transplant outcomes and studies on renal dysfunction following cardiopulmonary bypass.

Surgical education projects include studies of resident experience and the use of virtual reality in surgical training.  Clinical expertise has been in adult cardiac surgery with an emphasis on mitral valve repair and in lung transplantation.

Awards & Accomplishments

Master Clinician Award, Lozano Long School of Medicine, UT Health Science Center SA, 2019

Guest Examiner, American Board of Thoracic Surgery, 2009-2018

Socrates Award nominee for Education and Mentorship: Thoracic Surgery Residents Association 2015

Listed in “The Best Doctors in America” by Woodward White, Inc., 2005-2006

Appointment to the Trinkle Chair, Department of Surgery, November 2004

Nominated candidate for the “2000 Presidential Award for Excellence” in teaching, May 2000

Surgical Education Research Fellowship, The Association for Surgical Education, 1998-1999

“Outstanding Faculty” Award, UT Health San Antonio School of Medicine, Officers and Members of the Class of 1998

“Center of Excellence “designation, Section of Cardiothoracic Surgery, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, 1997

Institute for Basic and Applied Research in Surgery Research Award, 1987

Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Honor Society, 1986


Board Certified:

American Board of Thoracic Surgery

American Board of Surgery


Society of Thoracic Surgeons

American Association for Thoracic Surgery

Southern Thoracic Surgical Association

International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation

American College of Surgeons

American College of Chest Physicians

Association of Academic Surgeons

Texas Surgical Society

Texas Transplant Society

John Alexander Society – University of Michigan

C. Walton and Richard C. Lillehei Surgical Society

Aust Surgical Society


Katona MA, Walker JL, Das NA, Miller SR, Sako EY. Using a quality improvement initiative to reduce acute kidney injury during on-pump coronary artery bypass grafting. Perfusion. 2020 Jun 5:267659120918786. doi: 10.1177/0267659120918786.

Aleman J, Adkins A, Boies L, Al-Quiati F, Sako E and Bhattacharya S. Effects of Cinching Force on the Tricuspid Annulus: A Species Comparison J Cardiovasc Dis Diagn 2017;5(4):283-286.

Singh A, Schaff HV, Mori Brooks M, Hlatky MA, Wisniewski SR, Frye RL, Sako EY; BARI 2D Study Group.. On-pump versus off-pump coronary artery bypass graft surgery among patients with type 2 diabetes in the Bypass Angioplasty Revascularization Investigation 2 Diabetes trial Eur J Cardiothor Surg 2016 Feb;49(2):406-416.

Adams AJ, Wasson EA, Admire JR, Gomez PP, Babayeuski RA, Sako EY, Willis RE. A comparison of teaching modalities and fidelity of simulation levels in teaching resuscitation scenarios Journal of Surg Ed 2015 Sep;72(5):778-785.

Argenziano M, Skipper E, Heimansohn D, Letsou GV, Woo YJ, Kron I, Alexander J, Cleveland J, Kong B, Davidson M, Vassiliades T, Krieger K, Sako E, Tibi P, Galloway A, Foster E, Feldman T, Glower D. Surgical revision after percutaneous mitral repair with the MitraClip device. Ann Thorac Surg 2010 Jan;89(1):72-80.

BARI 2D Study Group, Frye RL, August P, Brooks MM, Hardison RM, Kelsey SF, MacGregor JM, Orchard TJ, Chaitman BR, Genuth SM, Goldberg SH, Hlatky MA, Jones TL, Molitch ME, Nesto RW, Sako EY, Sobel BE. A randomized trial of therapies for type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. N Engl J Med. 2009 Jun 11;360(24):2503-15. Epub 2009 Jun 7.

Angel LF, Levine DJ, Restrepo MI, Johnson S, Sako E, Carpenter AJ, Calhoon J, Cornell JE, Adams SG, Chisholm GB, Nespral J, Roberson A, Levine SM. Impact of a lung transplantation donor-management protocol on lung donation and recipient outcomes. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol.174, 2006.
Editorial | Article – Reuters Health Info

Sako EY. Newer Concepts in the Surgical Treatment of Valvular Heart Disease.  Curr Cardiol Rep 2004 Mar;6(2):100-5

Shaw Lian R, Sako EY, O’Rourke Robert A: Is the Enthusiasm Regarding Early Mitral Valve Repair in Asymptomatic Patients with Severe Regurgitation Justified?  In: Mitral Valve Disease, Chapter 57, May 2003.

Sako EY, Petrusa Jr ER, Paukert JL.  Factors influencing outcome of the American Board of Surgery certifying examination: An observational study.  JSRE 105:75-80, 2002.

Boyd SY, Sako EY, Trinkle JK, O’Rourke RA, Zabalgoitia M.  Calculation of Lung Flow Differential After Single-Lung Transplantation:  A Transesophageal Echocardiographic Study.  TheAmer J Cardio, 87, May 15, 2001.

Homma A, Anzueto A, Peters JI, Susanto I, Sako EY, Zabalgoitia M, Bryan CL, Levine SM.  Pulmonary Artery Systolic Pressures Estimated by Echocardiogram vs Cardiac Catheterization in Patients Awaiting Lung Transplantation.  J Heart Lung Transplant 2001;20: 833-839.

Patterson JE, Peters JI, Calhoon JH, Levine SM, Anzueto A, Al-Abdely H, Sanchez R, Patterson TF, Rech M, Jorgensen JH, Rinaldi MG, Sako EY, Johnson SB, Vincent Speeg V, Glenn A. Halff GA, Trinkle JK: Investigation and Control of Aspergillosis and Other Filamentous Fungal Infections in Solid Organ Transplant Recipients. Transplant Inf Disease 2:22-28, 2000.

Angel L, Cai T, Sako EY, Levine SM.  Post-transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorders in Lung Transplant Recipients: Clinical Experience at a Single Center.  Annals of Transplantation 5(3), 27-31, 2000.

Levine SM, Angel LF, Anzueto A, Peters J, Susanto I, Sako EY, Bryan, C.  A Low Incidence of Post-transplant Lymphoprolferative Disorder in 109 Lung Transplant Recipients.  Chest, 116(5):1273-1277. November 1999.