Department of Cardiovascular Sciences

Minimally Invasive and Heart Valve Surgery

Meet our team


Enoch AkowuahEnoch Akowuah is Chair of Cardiac Surgery at Newcastle University and a Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the UK.  He is Chair of the Adult Cardiac Surgery subcommittee of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery.  His current portfolio, which includes the world's largest trial in minimally invasive cardiac surgery, is shaping the direction of trials in cardiac surgery.  High impact publications and engagement with key individuals nationally and internationally have ensured direct and substantial impact of his research.


Wil Woan - PPI Member

Wil Woan has worked in the voluntary sector for 20 years, with more than 5 years spent as CEO of Heart Valve Voice, the UK's dedicated Heart Valve Disease Patient Organisation.  During this time, Wil has lanched several Parliamentary Reports into valve disease treatment in the UK, and has recently set up a Heart Valve Disease Al Party Parliamentary Group.  Throughout his work at Heart Valve Voice, Wil has championed innovation as means of improving the detection and treatment of heart valve disease and was chosen to be the UK TAVI Trial patient representative.  Wil has worked with leading clinicians and policy makers to produce guidelines and standards of care which provide a framework foor the future care of valve disease patients.  His work on Heart Valve Voice's 2018 Gold Standard of Care mapped an optimal treatment pathway, and is now widely seen as the benchmark for all valve disease care in the UK.

Health services researchers

  • Rebecca Maier

Patient and public representatives

Alan Keys - PPI MemberAlan Keys has been a cardiac patient representative since 2004, including BHF, CQC hospital inspector, CCG Governing Body and NHSE committees. He is currently President, Cardiovascular Care Partnership (UK), British Cardiovascular Society Council, Clinical Standards & Finance Committees, BCIS & ESC Clinical Standards Committees, MINAP Domain Expert Group & NICOR Patient Reference Group. Having benefitted from surgical expertise and worked on performance quality he wishes to contribute a little to advances in cardiac surgery by supporting specialist research.

Phil BlakelockPhil Blakelock first came to the world of PPI after engaging with the BHF following surgery to replace a bicuspid aortic valve, being invited prior to the operation to contribute to a research programme on heart muscle make-up.  This brought a realisation of the link between physics/science and technology with cardiology, and how this can be brought to bear upon challenging cardiac conditions and the welfare of the population. 

Phil has spent most of his career in Defence Engineering and is passionate about all things science.  Having participated in a very professionally run heart research programme, Phil wants to influence new programmes and trials so that they are executed in the same way, particularly from the patient's perspective, on how trials are communicated and executed. 

As a patient representative Phil contributes to many other PPI initiatives, pre-funding application assessments, BMJ patient reviews etc;, including the All Party Parliamentary Group on "AI in heart and circulatory diseases", as well as the House of Lords Committee on "Beyond Digital-Planning for a hybrid world".

Cardiothoracic interdisciplinary research network representatives

Amer Harky - CIRN representative Amer Harky is a trainee in Cardiothoracic surgery in the North West Deanery of England with special interest in minimally invasive techniques in cardiovascular surgery. He is the representative of Cardiothoracic Interdisciplinary Research Network (CIRN) within the minimally invasive initiative approach/project.

Nathan Tyson CIRN representativeNathan Tyson is currently a higher specialty trainee (Registrar) in Cardiothoracic Surgery in the East Midlands Deanery.  He is interested in strengthening the links between clinicians and patient groups in answering the big questions in valvular heart disease.  He is looking forward to linking the work of this initiative with that of the Cardiothoracic Interdisciplinary Research Network (CIRN) as a trainee representative.

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