Valve Science Center

Heart valve disease is a preventable public health crisis. Our world-class research and education center is leading the way to providing life-saving solutions for you. 

Solving a public health crisis.

More than 5 million Americans are diagnosed with heart valve disease every year, which can cause heart attacks, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure and other heart disease — significantly impacting quality of life and even leading to death. The good news is that most valve disease can be successfully treated in patients of all ages. 

Our Valve Science Center leads the industry in minimally invasive, non-surgical valve repair and replacement. We are improving outcomes for patients with heart valve disease.

Under the leadership of Dr. Paul Sorajja, MHIF’s Valve Science Center is a national leader in the transcatheter treatment of aortic and mitral valve disease. MHIF is integrated with a high-quality, high-volume cardiovascular care center at Abbott Northwestern Hospital (ANW), which allows us to study and offer cutting-edge treatment to a large number of patients with valve disease.

Dan was involved in a cardiovascular research study at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, when he was surprised to learn he had valve disease. Listen to Dan’s story, and hear from his physician, Dr. Mario Gössl, and MHIF CEO, Kristine Fortman, PhD, about valve disease and how research has led to less invasive treatments.

Featured Highlights

Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day Event

February 22 was Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day! Watch a recording of Stories of a Healthy Heart, a special On the Pulse webinar. Leading physicians and researchers discussed the importance of healthy heart valves, symptoms to watch for, shared that latest in research and treatments, and answered audience questions during a Q&A panel discussion. Two inspirational patients also shared their remarkable patient journeys.

Valve Science Center Landmark Achievements

The MHIF Valve Science Center has been recognized with notable firsts in valve disease research leading the way in improving care and outcomes for patients.

• First implant in world’s first pivotal trial to evaluate a new approach for repairing leaky tricuspid heart valves —  2019
• First-in-human therapy of tricuspid regurgitation with the TriClip — 2017
• First-in-human therapy of severe mitral annular calcification using the Tendyne mitral prosthesis — 2017
• First-in-human therapy of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with MitraClip — 2016
• First transcatheter mitral valve replacement in the U.S. with the Tendyne bioprosthetic mitral valve — 2015
• First-in-human therapy with the Myocor device for treatment of mitral regurgitation — 2008

Access publications and presentations here >>

First in World TRILUMINATE Enrollment at MHIF

Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation® (MHIF) enrolled the first patient, completing the first successful implant, as part of a pivotal clinical trial that is evaluating a new treatment option for patients with severe tricuspid regurgitation (leaky tricuspid heart valve). The TRILUMINATE Pivotal clinical trial is the first pivotal Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) trial in the U.S. to evaluate a catheter-based, non-surgical treatment for patients with severe tricuspid regurgitation.

Improving Quality of Life for People Suffering From FTR

More than 1.6 million patients in the U.S. today have tricuspid regurgitation, which is a difficult-to-manage, age-related disease. Valve Science Center team is excited to be at the forefront of new clinical research that is studying a new minimally invasive treatment option for symptomatic patients suffering from moderate to severe Functional Tricuspid Regurgitation (FTR) who are at high-risk for open heart surgery. 

News & Events 

Stories of Gratitude

Chris Jackson: Heart Valve Disease

Chris Jackson is a breast cancer survivor. After several rounds of chemo and open-heart surgery, she was left with tricuspid regurgitation. Dr. Paul Sorajja at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation introduced Chris to the Triluminate trial, which is a tricuspid valve clip and a less-invasive option to fix her leaky valve.

Mary Morris
Stories of Gratitude

Mary Morris: Heart Valve Disease

Mary L. Morris is a heart valve replacement recipient who claims good health and longevity. Her wonderful story of health was shared on Insight News during February's American Heart Month.


Healthy Heart Valves – Living Life to the Fullest

Please join us for a free education event: Healthy Heart Valves on February 19th. Although heart valve disease affects as many as 11 million Americans, many people have never heard of it. Heart valve disease is estimated to affect 1 in 10 people ages 75+, and age is the greatest risk factor.


50th Patient Enrolled in Abbott’s TRILUMINATE Clinical Study Advancing Options for Tricuspid Regurgitation

Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) continues its leadership research to advance care an outcomes for patients living with heart valve disease, reaching an important milestone – the 50th patient enrolled in the TRILUMINATE pivotal clinical trial.

Access Patient Information

Patient Stories

Patient Resources

Events & News

Benefits of Participating in Research

Every year, exciting breakthroughs and discoveries stem from our research. These important findings advance medical knowledge, improving the health and lives of millions of people worldwide.


Be More Active

Take a more active role in your own health care.

Gain Access

You may gain access to investigational treatments and medications.

Make a Contribution

Help find new and better ways to treat people with your condition.

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Professional Resources 

MHIF established the Valve Science Center to improve outcomes for patients with heart valve disease. The center will allow researchers to:

• Study and gain insight into the barriers to care for under-treated populations of heart valve disease patients.
• Design, develop and implement novel guideline-based patient care pathways.
• Expand the delivery of high-quality, state-of-the-art care for heart valve patients.
• Educate the public on the needs of this patient population and opportunities for improvement in care.

Learn more & access publications on valve heart disease >>

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Stay up to date on MHIF news, events and the latest information on heart disease treatment and prevention.

Meet Our Team

Paul Sorajja, MD

Paul Sorajja, MD

Roger L. and Lynn C. Headrick Family Chair and Director, MHIF Valve Science Research

Dr. Paul Sorajja is the Roger L. and Lynn C. Headrick Family Chair of the Valve Science Center at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, and a cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute® where he serves as the Director of the Center for Valve and Structural Heart Disease. He received his medical degree from Mayo Medical School, and completed his Internal Medicine Residency and Cardiology Fellowship at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. During 1998-99, he was a clinical research fellow in myopathy at St. George’s Hospital in London, UK. Dr. Sorajja joined the Mayo Clinic staff in 2006, achieving the rank of Professor of Medicine in 2012. In 2013, Dr. Sorajja joined the Minneapolis Heart Institute® at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

Dr. Sorajja’s expertise is interventional cardiology, with a focus on bringing the latest innovative technologies to patients with valvular and structural heart disease. He was part of the team that performed the first transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR) in the US, and has the largest worldwide experience with the therapy. Dr. Sorajja currently serves as a national investigator for TMVR and also for clinical trials in percutaneous treatment for tricuspid regurgitation. He has served on several national practice committees for valvular heart disease and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Dr. Sorajja has published more than 250 manuscripts and several books. He routinely lectures at national and international medical conferences, and has received awards for his expertise in medical education. Dr. Sorajja is also highly active in developing intellectual property in these areas.

Professional interests:

  • Heart valve disease (e.g., mitral regurgitation, aortic stenosis, tricuspid regurgitation)
  • Structural heart disease and interventions
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Coronary atherosclerosis
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention
Mario Gössl, MD, PhD

Mario Gössl, MD, PhD

Co-Chair, Cardiology

Dr. Goessl joined Minneapolis Heart Institute® at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in 2016 from Dean Clinic, Madison WI where his was the director of the structural heart disease program and a clinical adjunct assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. He was previously an assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Goessl has authored, or co-authored, more than 100 published manuscripts and book chapters, and is a national and international speaker in the areas of valvular and coronary heart disease.

Dr. Goessl’s special interest is structural heart interventions, such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR), MitraClip, transcatheter tricuspid valve repair, left atrial appendage closure (Watchman), ASD/PFO closure and other similar therapies.

Professional interests:

  • Transcatheter aortic and mitral valve replacement (tavr/tmvr)
  • MitraClip
  • Watchman (left atrial appendage closure)
  • Percutaneous coronary intervention
  • Transcatheter tricuspid valve repair
  • Paravalvular leak closure
  • Asd/pfo closure
  • Endothelial dysfunction
  • Aortic valve stenosis
  • Mitral valve regurgitation/stenosis
Vinayak (Vinnie) Bapat, MD

Vinayak (Vinnie) Bapat, MD

Dr. Vinnie Bapat joined the Valve Science Center team in June 2020, bringing his extensive expertise as a cardiothoracic surgeon and innovator in treatment of heart valve disease. He also works directly with patients as a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Minneapolis Heart Institute®.

Prior to joining the team, Dr. Bapat was a cardiac surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital and professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. He also previously served as professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Guys and St. Thomas’ Hospital, London and continues to hold that position as visiting professor. 

Dr. Bapat earned his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgeon degrees, followed by Master of Surgery and Master of Cardiothoracic Surgery degrees, at the University of Bombay in India and King Edward Memorial Hospital. He completed his Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons (FRCS) in cardiothoracic surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, U.K. He also completed an internship, three residencies and two fellowships at various institutions, including King Edward Memorial Hospital and University of Mumbai, Toronto General Hospital in Canada, and as part of rotations at institutions in the United Kingdom, including Guys and St. Thomas’ Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Royal County Sussex Hospital in Brighton, U.K.

In addition to his clinical accomplishments, Dr. Bapat has been a collaborator among his peers in the world of transcatheter valves through the creation of two apps that are downloadable on mobile devices – Valve-in-Valve (VIV) Mitral and VIV Aortic. The apps provide imaging and clinical information, such as dimensions and characteristics of the various valve repair technologies and have been downloaded in 132 countries. Through these apps, physicians access data and clinical insights to determine the technology options based on their individual patient needs, including guidance and insights on the implant procedure. Notably, the apps are free to download and are updated every year to provide up-to-date guidance.

Professional interests:

  • Complex valve surgery
  • Aortic surgery
  • Novel transcatheter interventions
João L. Cavalcante, MD, FACC, FASE, FSCCT, FSCMR

João L. Cavalcante, MD, FACC, FASE, FSCCT, FSCMR

Dr. João L. Cavalcante earned his medical degree in Fortaleza, Brazil. He came to the US for internal medicine residency, chief residency and cardiology fellowship at Henry Ford Hospital. Between 2010-2012 he completed at the Cleveland Clinic a dedicated two-year advanced cardiovascular imaging training program obtaining COCATS Level III in Interventional Echo, Cardiovascular CT and Cardiac MRI.

He was senior faculty at UPMC between 2012-2018 where he became the Director of the Structural Imaging and Core Lab.

In October 2018 he moved to the Minneapolis Heart Institute® to be the Director of Cardiac MRI and Structural CT Labs. Together with Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, he is the Scientific Director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Research Center and Core Lab.

In July 2019 he was elected as a new member for the SCCT Board of Directors and currently is the Chair for the Society of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance – Valvular Heart Disease Guidelines. He has been a writing committee member for the CBCMR (CMR board exam) and for the Core Competencies in Structural Interventional Imaging: Computed Tomography document led by Dr Leipsic.

Dr. Cavalcante has published more than 90 peer-reviewed publications including and is a frequent lecturer at both national and international meetings. His passion for Multimodality Imaging and focus on Valve and Structural Heart Disease have provided opportunities for directing and teaching many CT/CMR training workshops.

Professional interests:

  • Cardiovascular imaging and outcomes
  • Valvular heart disease and structural interventions
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Cardiomyopathies
Santiago Garcia, MD, FACC

Santiago Garcia, MD, FACC

Dr. Santiago Garcia is a staff interventional cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute® in Minneapolis and serves as Director of the Adult Congenital Structural Program.

Dr. Garcia has published more than 130 manuscripts in peer-review medical journals and has received grant support from government entities, philanthropic agencies and industry. Areas of interest include minimally invasive transcatheter valve replacement and repair, clinical trials, and outcomes of complex coronary revascularization procedures.

He received his medical degree from University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. He trained in Internal Medicine at the University of Miami in Florida where he was chief medical resident. He completed a fellowship in cardiovascular medicine and interventional cardiology at the University of Minnesota. He also completed a certificate program in clinical research at the University of Minnesota. He served as the medical director of the transcatheter valve program at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center from 2015 to 2018 and was Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota (2016-2018).

Dr. Garcia was a fellow (2017-2019) of the Emerging Leadership Mentorship (ELM) Program sponsored by the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

He lives in Edina, MN with his wife and 2 children. 

Professional interests:

  • Minimally invasive transcatheter valve replacement and repair
  • Adult congenital heart disease
  • Clinical trials
Kevin M. Harris, MD

Kevin M. Harris, MD

Dr. Harris moved from Washington University School of Medicine to his current position at Minneapolis Heart Institute® in 1998. He is a clinical cardiologist and echocardiographer with clinical and research interests in aortic disease and aortic dissection, valvular heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and heart disease in athletes.

He is actively involved in cardiology education, serving as director of cardiology training for the HCMC/Minneapolis Heart Institute® at Abbott Northwestern Hospital training program since 2011. Prior to this role, he was a member of the University of Minnesota fellowship committee for 12 years.

He has a long-standing interest in aortic dissection. He is the current director of the Aortic Dissection Program. He serves as a member of the International Registry of Acute Aortic Dissection (IRAD) group and has authored over 100 manuscripts.

Dr. Harris enjoys the complete spectrum of cardiovascular care from prevention of disease to acute illness. He values the privilege to build relationships with patients and families on a continuing basis.

Professional interests:

  • Aortic dissection and thoracic aortic aneurysm
  • Echocardiography
  • Athletic heart disease
  • Bicuspid valve and aortic valve disease
  • Mitral valve prolapse and mitral regurgitation
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
John R. Lesser, MD

John R. Lesser, MD

Dr. Lesser has published more than 100 articles, abstracts, CDs and books. He is the past President of the Society of Cardiovascular CTs (SCCT) Board of Directors where he served as Chairman of the Accreditation, Certification, and Guidelines Committee. He holds professional memberships as a fellow with the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and as a member of the American Heart Association (AHA), the Society for Cardiac Angiography and Intervention (SCAI) and the Society of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR). He is on the Board of Directors with the Intersocietal Commission for CT Accreditation of Laboratories as well as the Credentialing and Certification Board for Cardiovascular CT.

Professional interests:

  • Catheterization, cardiac
  • Arrhythmia, cardiac
  • Cardiac electrophysiology
  • Preventive cardiology
  • Cardiac pacemaker, artificial
  • Echocardiography
  • Myocardial biopsy
  • Teleheart
  • CT and MRI
Maurice Sarano, MD, FACC, FAHA, FESC

Maurice Sarano, MD, FACC, FAHA, FESC

Maurice Enriquez-Sarano, MD, FACC, FAHA, FESC has joined the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) and the Valve Science Center as a Senior Research Scientist.  Dr. Sarano is a world renowned expert in valvular heart disease and mitral regurgitation with a lifetime of accomplishments, impacting the practice of care and innovation globally.  A long-standing advocate for early intervention, Dr. Sarano has positively impacted the lives of thousands of patients and families throughout the world.

A native of Tunisia, with a medical degree and post graduate engagements with the University of Paris VI among other institutions, Dr. Sarano first came to Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic in 1991 where he built an incredible legacy.  Over his remarkable career, Dr. Sarano has served as an educator and mentor of countless physicians. 

Dr. Sarano’s research interests are focused around all types of valve diseases and their diagnosis, epidemiology, imaging and outcomes.  Specifically at MHIF, his research goals are to optimize the research infrastructure and tools for the entire valvular team.  In his partnership with MHIF, Dr. Sarano will first focus on taking the initial steps towards building a regional and international valve research consortium.  His research and professional mentorship will be invaluable to our scholars, physicians, and staff.

Professional interests:

  • Cardiovascular Imaging
  • Valvular Heart Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • Outcomes and new Therapeutic Options
Scott Sharkey, MD

Scott Sharkey, MD

Dr. Sharkey is President and Chief Medical Officer at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and Senior Consulting Cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute®. Dr. Sharkey is also director of the Stress Cardiomyopathy (Tako-tsubo) Research Program at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation. He has a keen interest in all aspects of cardiovascular research and has authored two books and more than 100 manuscripts. He has previously served on the American Heart Association’s Council of Clinical Cardiology. Before joining the Minneapolis Heart Institute® in 1996, Dr. Sharkey was director of the George Fahr Cardiac Care Unit at Hennepin County Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Minnesota.

Robert Steffen, MD

Robert Steffen, MD

Robert Steffen, MD is a Cardiac Surgeon in the Minneapolis Heart Institute® at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. 

Dr. Steffen received his undergraduate education in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School. He did his postgraduate training at the Cleveland Clinic. During his training he spent one year as a research fellow in the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. He was the Chief Resident in his final year of cardiothoracic surgery training and received the Charles Bryan award for Clinical Excellence. Dr. Steffen was a clinical instructor in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and received multiple teaching awards. 

Dr. Steffen has specific interests in the surgical treatment of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, valvular heart disease, coronary artery disease, aortic disease, and heart failure. He has published many peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, review articles, and podcasts and has spoken locally, nationally, and internationally on topics in cardiac surgery. 

Professional interests:

  • Coronary artery bypass
  • Valve repair and replacement
  • Mechanical circulatory support
  • Heart transplantation
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Aortic surgery
  • Minimally invasive cardiac surgery
Kristin Lambrecht, PA-C

Kristin Lambrecht, PA-C

Program Director

As the Program Director for the Valve Science Center, Kristin Lambrecht facilitates a multidisciplinary staff and physician team to advance research and education in valvular heart disease and cardiovascular imaging with the ultimate goal of improving patients’ lives through a world-class research center.

Kristin is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in Physiology and Augsburg College’s Physician Assistant program. She came to MHIF from Medtronic where she amassed deep and strong experience in clinical research, therapy development, and evidence dissemination. At MHIF, she leverages these experiences as the Valve Science Center team leads the way in transformative research and education for valvular heart disease.

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