Faculty Profiles

David Vega

J. David Vega, MD

Professor of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine

Director, Heart Transplant Program, Emory University Hospital

Chief, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Atlanta VA Healthcare System






American Board of Surgery, American Board of Thoracic Surgery

Year Joined Emory as a Faculty Member



Dr. Vega is the director of of the heart transplant program at Emory University Hospital and director of cadiothoracic surgery at the Atlanta VA Healthcare System. He implanted Georgia's first dual pump ventricular assist device (VAD) in 1999 to serve as a bridge to heart transplantation, which initiated Emory's ongoing national position at the forefront of the use of mechanical circulatory assist devices. In 2006, he was the first physician in Georgia to implant a VAD as a form of destination therapy for individuals who are ineligible for or are unwilling to undergo a heart transplant, and in 2007 implanted an even smaller VAD for the same purpose.

Dr. Vega has served on the Board of Governors of LifeLink Foundation since 2001. His additional professional memberships have included serving on the Board of Directors of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) as the thoracic transplant representative from 2012-2014, chairing the OPTN/UNOS Thoracic Organ Transplantation Committee from 2007-2008, and co-chairing the Thoracic Organ Transplantation Committee of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons from 2008-2011.

In May 2021, Emory University Hospital reached the milestone of 1,000 heart transplants performed, of which Dr. Vega is estimated to have performed nearly half.


View Dr. Vega's publications in PubMed.


  • Emory University Hospital

  • Atlanta VA Medical Center

  • Wellstar Kennestone Hospital

  • Grady Health System


  • MD, University of Michigan, Class of 1986

  • General Surgery Internship (1986-1987) and General Surgery Residency (1987-1988, 1990-1993), University of Texas Health Science Center

  • Research Fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery (1988-1990), Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Residency (1993-1995), Texas Heart Institute

  • Fellowship in Cardiopulmonary Transplantation, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (1995-1996)

Honors and Awards

  • Community Service Award, Lite House Partners, Inc., 2014

  • Woodruff Fund Clinical Teaching Support Award in Cardiothoracic Surgery, Emory, 2002

  • The George P. Waldron Award, Outstanding General Surgery Chief Resident, University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX, 1993

Editorships and Editorial Boards

  • Associate Editor, American Journal of Transplantation

Current Organizational Memberships

  • American College of Surgeons: Fellow

  • American Society of Transplant Surgeons

  • American Association for Thoracic Surgery

  • LifeLink Foundation

  • Society of Thoracic Surgeons

  • United Network for Organ Sharing

  • American Society for Artificial Internal Organs

  • Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society

  • International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation

Clinical Interests

  • Cardiac transplantation

  • Cardiopulmonary transplantation

  • Heart failure/heart transplantation

  • Lung transplantation

Research Interests

  • The surgical treatment of advanced heart failure, encompassing high-risk coronary bypass, mitral valve repair, heart transplantation, and the use of mechanical circulatory support devices as a bridge to transplant or for destination therapy