1978 – Introduced blood cardioplegia
Introduced blood cardioplegia to prevent heart damage during open heart operations, where the heart is quieted to enhance surgical precision. This approach mixes specific chemical agents with the patient’s blood to stop the heart and provide nourishment, and is used today by > 85% U.S. surgeons and 75% worldwide.
1981 – Introduced warm blood cardioplegia
Introduced warm blood cardioplegia to more effectively “resuscitate” the heart before and after its blood supply is interrupted during open heart surgeries. Used by > 50% surgeons worldwide.
1983 – Demonstrated effective surgical treatment of patients in shock after heart attack
Showed that surgical treatment of patients in shock after an acute heart attack, using cardioplegic techniques, lowers surgical mortality from over 50% to below 10%. Mortality with drug treatment alone (no surgery) is over 70%.
1986 – Developed method of treating acute myocardial infarction
Developed a surgical method of treating acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) to restore immediate function to the jeopardized muscle. Non-surgical treatment only opens the artery, but doesn’t restore the heart’s ability to contract. This surgical treatment also adds a patented amino acid solution that is now used in routine heart surgery by 40% of surgeons in the U.S. The preliminary surgical results showing prompt recovery, was confirmed by a multi-center study in the U.S. and Europe.
1990 – Introduced method to deliver cardioplegia retrograde
Introduced simplified method to deliver cardioplegia retrograde through the coronary venous system without opening the heart. This provides regional nourishment and protection. It is used by > 60% of U.S. surgeons, and is increasingly having application worldwide.
1992 – Introduced concept of “unintended reoxygenation injury”
Introduced concept of “unintended reoxygenation injury” when blue babies (cyanotic) are placed on the heart-lung machine (cardiopulmonary bypass) to correct the congenital defect causing cyanosis (inadequate oxygenation of the blood). This study successfully demonstrated the role of active interventions to restrict the amount of oxygen (combined with other factors) to limit an avoidable injury.
1994 – Introduced concept of integrated cardioplegic delivery strategies
Introduced methods to deliver cardioplegic solutions through the coronary arteries and veins, plus showed how to create the ideal balance of warm and cold temperatures to optimize heart protection. This improves the distribution of the cardioplegic solutions and enhances protection to provide safer operations in the increasing number of high risk patients needing cardiac operations.
1997 – Developed international RESTORE team for congestive heart failure
Developed the RESTORE team, an international group (U.S., Europe, South America, Asia) to investigate correcting a structural cause of congestive heart failure. This concept of reshaping the left ventricle to restore the heart’s normal size and contour has now been supported, as our results in >1100 patients were reported at the 2002 AHA meeting, and later in > 5000 additional patients globally. This has dramatically reduced mortality and restored excellent quality of life in these patients.
2000 – Received Bakken Lifetime Achievement Award
Received the first Earl Bakken Scientific Achievement Award from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons for contributions to patient care and surgeons, due to work on protecting the heart during open heart surgery.
2000 – Led development of $45,000,000 NIH trial
Led the development of a prospective international $45,000,000 NIH trial to treat congestive heart failure by a novel geometric concept. This concept, employed by the RESTORE team, was built upon the contributions of Vincent Dor of Monaco. Dr. Buckberg was the co-principal investigator and directed the Surgical Therapy Committee. He resigned his position because of concern that the trial’s departure from the agreed upon selection and performance criteria would provide flawed results.
2001 – Delivered AATS Science Lecture on “Helix and the Heart”
Gave the Basic Science Lecture on the “Helix and the Heart” and introduced an innovative way of refocusing attention on cardiac structure and function, based upon a simple helical heart model containing an external wrap and an internal spiral forming a helix. This concept provides a paradigm shift in conventional thinking. This framework allowed Dr. Buckberg to introduce a new cardiac procedure that rebuilds the natural conical heart shape, one that creates a straightforward surgical method that may routinely correct heart failure in the dilated heart, lowering the leading cause of death in the U.S. and worldwide.
2002 – Led international workshop at NIH
Led an international workshop at the NIH (National Institutes of Health) regarding cardiac structure and function, based upon the novel concept of understanding and restoring the elliptical natural form of the heart’s structure. Published a monograph of this concept, containing 20 papers that coordinated this innovative work with ongoing clinical applications in patients. The application of these findings generated open heart operations that brought heart structure back to normal – they remedied the dilated and failing spherical heart (shaped like a basketball) that exists during congestive heart failure – and restored its natural elliptical shape (like a football). Dr. Buckberg demonstrated that successful use of this rebuilding technique dramatically alters the dire prognosis of this devastating disease.
2002 – Acted as mentor to treating congestive heart failure
Directed his surgical efforts to become a mentor to teach a novel approach in treating congestive heart failure. This consisted of being a visiting professor at major universities, organizing a collaborative RESTORE team in Europe, Asia and South and Central America (with representatives from leading centers in each country), and conducting training sessions in key sites in various cities in the U.S. to foster understanding of this concept, while teaching how to apply this simple surgical method.
2003 – Appointed Faculty Associate at Caltech
Appointed Faculty Associate at the California Institute of Technology to study the helical heart in their newly developed program called the Bioengineering Option. This rare appointment is given every 2 to 3 years to individuals who will collaborate on innovative studies to expand efforts at Caltech to counter major disease entities.
2005 – Winner of Freddie Award
Winner of Freddie Award (The International Health and Medical Media Awards) in the Basic and Clinical Science Category, as well as recipient of the overall Surgeon’s General Award for Outstanding Health Professional Entry for his DVD presentation, “The Helical Heart.”
2007- Received AATS Scientific Achievement Award
Received the American Association for Thoracic Surgery Scientific Achievement Award, the highest award the Association bestows to honor an individual for scientific achievements in thoracic surgery. Was recognized for his seminal contributions in the field of myocardial preservation (protecting the heart during open heart surgery) and elucidating the anatomy and pathophysiology (functional changes resulting from disease) of heart failure.
2007- Received two Honorary Doctor of Science Degrees
Received Honorary Doctor of Science Degree from Ohio State University, where he had been an undergraduate. The next day, he was recognized with a second Honorary Degree from the University of Cincinnati, his medical school. Both honors recognized his distinguished career as a cardiac surgeon and researcher, and acknowledged his extraordinary contributions to the practice of medicine and the advancement of science.
2008 – Received Longmire Legacy Award
Given in honor of William Longmire who began the surgical program at UCLA. This Legacy Award is uncommonly bestowed. It was given to recognize Dr. Buckberg’s contributions to cardiac surgery, and amplify how his research has globally enhanced the merits of UCLA, his home base.
2008 – Received Gibbon Award
The Gibbon Award is in honor of John Gibbon, who made the landmark contribution of inventing the Heart-Lung machine. This was granted to Dr. Buckberg for his for Outstanding Contribution to Science and Practice of Extracorporeal Circulation.
2009- Received Honorary Membership to GSTCVS
Received Honorary Membership in the German Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.
2009 – Delivered Clarence Crafoord Lecture
Delivered Clarence Crafoord Lecture to the 12th European Congress on Extracorporeal Circulation Technology in Denmark. Crafoord is one of the fathers of the development of heart surgery.
2010 – Received L’ Academie Nationale de Medicine Membership
Received Membership as an Associate Foreign Member of the L’ Academie Nationale de Medicine in France.
2015 – Received RAMS Academician Bakoulev Prize
Received RAMS Academician Bakoulev Prize in recognition of his lifetime contributions for the surgical treatment of cardiac health.
2018 – Received UCLA’s Lifetime Achievement and Chairman’s Award
Received the Lifetime Achievement and Chairman’s Award from the Divisions of Cardiac & Thoracic Surgery at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to recognize his distinguished career as a cardiac surgeon and researcher, and his extraordinary contributions to the advancement of cardiac medicine.