Sarver Heart Center Member Update, December 2023

Sarver Heart Center welcomes nine new members in 2023

The Sarver Heart Center gained nine new members, including notable physicians and researchers, in 2023. Read more about each new member’s cardiovascular science and medicine contributions below.

James K. Liao, MD, assumed the Robert S. and Irene Flinn Endowed Chair in Medicine and the role of chair in the Department of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson in January 2023. A distinguished cardiovascular researcher, Dr. Liao brings extensive leadership experience, having served as cardiology section chief and cardiovascular research director at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine. His career spans prestigious institutions, including Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Liao's research, continuously funded by the NIH for over 30 years, focuses on cardiovascular disease prevention, lipid disorders and vascular biology. As an accomplished scholar, he holds numerous patents and has authored over 250 peer-reviewed articles and 13 textbook chapters. Dr. Liao is recognized nationally and internationally, contributing significantly to esteemed journals and conferences. His appointment as core faculty in Tucson underscores his commitment to advancing medical education and research at the Sarver Heart Center.



Stephanie G. Worrell, MD, brings a wealth of experience as the clinical associate professor and Thoracic Section chief in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Arizona. With a diverse background, including a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery from the University of Michigan and a residency in general surgery at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Dr. Worrell has excelled in leadership roles and received awards for her contributions. Actively engaged in national societies, she serves as the mentorship chair for Women in Thoracic Surgery and chairs the esophageal cancer guidelines for the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Dr. Worrell is dedicated to education, both as the new associate program director of the General Surgery Residency Program and co-organizer of the recent Southwest Regional Advances in Foregut Diseases conference.




Chris Lim, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Community, Environment and Policy at the University of Arizona, joins the Sarver Heart Center with a diverse background in environmental medicine and biostatistics. His extensive academic journey includes a PhD from the New York University Grossman School of Medicine and postdoctoral work at Yale University. Dr. Lim has also showcased a commitment to community service and outreach, notably contributing to environmental justice initiatives in New York City. His research on air pollution's impact on cardiovascular health and mortality, as evidenced by numerous publications and awards, aligns with the center's mission.




Shanna Hamilton, PhD, a new assistant professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Arizona, brings a strong academic background to the Sarver Heart Center, with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the United Kingdom’s Swansea University and a PhD in medicine/biophysics from Cardiff University in Wales. She pursued postdoctoral training in cardiovascular physiology at both Brown University and Ohio State University. Dr. Hamilton's research focuses on abnormal calcium handling in the heart, unraveling molecular mechanisms and exploring therapeutic avenues for cardiovascular diseases. With expertise in confocal microscopy, electrophysiology, and gene editing, she contributes significantly to our understanding of heart health at various levels, from molecules to organisms.




Scott Chickota, MD, joins the Sarver Heart Center as a thoracic surgeon with over a decade of experience. He earned his medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and completed a residency in general surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, now known as NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dr. Chickota further honed his expertise through a fellowship in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of California, San Diego. Board-certified in cardiothoracic surgery by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery, he brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to our team here in Tucson.




Nanda Pullela, MD, joins the Sarver Heart Center also as an interventional cardiologist. After earning his medical degree (MBBS) from Andhra Medical College in India, Dr. Pullela gained experience as a resident, fellow and researcher before additional fellowship training in both general cardiology and interventional cardiology at the Sarver Heart Center. Dr. Pullela has served as an assistant professor of medicine at UArizona, contributed to peer-reviewed publications, and enriched the training of medical students and residents at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson. His focus on interventional cardiology and dedication to academic and clinical excellence make him a valuable addition to our team.





Ravi Vuthoori, MD, also joins the Sarver Heart Center as an interventional cardiologist. A graduate of St. George’s University School of Medicine, Grenada, and an alum of Stanford University, his extensive training includes fellowships in cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology at New York’s Albany Medical Center. His research contributions, showcased in publications like Circulation, reflect his expertise in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) functions. Beyond medicine, he's demonstrated leadership as a co-founder of Global Platinum Securities and a commitment to philanthropy through an investment club directing profits to charity.

Roderick Tung, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix, joins the Sarver Heart Center as a renowned expert in cardiovascular care. With a vision for excellence, he directs innovative programs at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. Formerly the director of cardiac electrophysiology at the University of Chicago, Dr. Tung has a global reputation for advancing both clinical and academic aspects of the field. Board-certified in cardiovascular disease and clinical cardiac electrophysiology, his leadership contributes to exceptional outcomes and compassionate patient care.





Omar Meziab, MD, assistant professor in pediatric cardiology at Banner University Medical Center-Tucson and the University of Arizona Health Sciences, brings extensive expertise in pediatric cardiology and electrophysiology to the Sarver Heart Center. He completed his Pediatric Electrophysiology Fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he also conducted impactful research under Dr. John Triedman and Dr. Douglas Mah. Dr. Meziab's dedication is evident in his numerous publications, including studies on intracardiac thrombus prevalence in atrial fibrillation, and his commitment to teaching, recognized with a place on the Faculty Teaching Honor Roll. His honors and awards, including the Humanism in Medicine Award, underscore his excellence in both academia and patient care.