Advanced Heart Failure/Transplant Fellowship Program 

Inspiring and training fellows in a rapidly evolvolving field

The mission of the Vanderbilt Advanced Heart Failure/Transplant Fellowship Program is to inspire and train fellows to become leaders in the rapidly evolving field of advanced heart failure, cardiac transplant and mechanical circulatory support. We attract outstanding graduates of ACGME-accredited general cardiology training programs and provide them with the strongest foundation in clinical care, teaching, research and leadership. 

Our principal goals are to: 

  • Provide fellows with a broad experience and deep knowledge base to support them as clinicians and leaders in the management of advanced heart failure. 
  • Demonstrate and instill a multidisciplinary approach to management of patients with advanced heart failure, with fellows working as an integral part of different teams in the environment of value-based care, linking inpatient and outpatient settings. 
  • Encourage a scholarly approach to collecting and interpreting medical data, and contributing to quality improvement to improve delivery of optimal care at the local and national level. 

To date, our faculty have trained over 80 fellows in advanced heart disease, with the majority of fellows advancing to academic faculty positions in Advanced Heart Disease programs. 

Vibrant, growing clinical environment

We have seen record growth in clinical volume, serving as a major referral center across Tennessee and the southeastern United States for patients seeking cardiac transplantation and mechanical circulatory support, evaluation of new and established cardiomyopathies, with special emphasis on inherited diseases, adult congenital heart disease, amyloidosis, cardio-oncology, and collaborative invasive strategies for heart failure with valve disease or arrhythmias. 

Surgeons perform the 1,000th heart transplant at VUMC 

In 2023, the Vanderbilt program was one of the busiest transplant centers in North America

  • 128 adult heart transplants were performed

  • 20 left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) were implanted.

  • 97 VAD evaluations were completed.  

This one-year clinical fellowship is designed to prepare graduates for an academic career in Advanced Heart Disease while meeting all ACGME qualifications to take the board examination for certification. The curriculum is comprised of inpatient and outpatient experiences that focus on management of chronic and advanced heart failure, heart transplantation, durable and temporary mechanical circulatory support in cardiogenic shock. Fellows also participate in electives focusing on adult congenital heart disease, sarcoidosis, amyloidosis, hypertrophic and genetic cardiomyopathies.

Fellows rotate between Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and the Nashville Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center, which is one of only five national VA heart transplant centers. Over the year, each fellow spends approximately four months in the CCU, four months in ambulatory rotations, one to 1.5 months at the VA and 3.5 months on the step-down VAD/transplant service and general heart failure service.

Our fellows also develop robust procedural experience with right heart catheterizations, endomyocardial biopsies and CardioMEMS implantations. In addition, they work closely with faculty and multidisciplinary teams to promote longitudinal followup of chronic HF patients with CardioMEMS.

Research exposure includes mentored participation in ongoing research and quality improvement projects throughout the year. Special areas of interest include advanced therapies for heart failure in adult congenital heart disease, biomarkers for profiling, implantable hemodynamic monitoring, and Vanderbilt's main heart registry and biorepository.

Bioinformatics, pharmacogenomics, and vascular research are additional strengths at VUMC, which offer unique opportunities for collaboration with an academic Emergency Department sponsoring an extensive research program for acute heart failure triage.

Fellows participate in several lecture and discussion based conferences. Over the summer, they attend didactic sessions in a bootcamp conference series, that focus on immunology, immunosuppression, durable and temporary mechanical support, advanced cardiomyopathy and shock, and donor selection, among other topics. Over the year, working with a faculty preceptor, each fellow presents three journal club sessions and one M&M case focusing on an adverse event. They moderate the monthly imaging conference, where the heart failure team reviews MRI/PET results with imaging faculty.

Fellows will attend several weekly conferences including:

  • Noon Heart Failure Series (Mondays)
  • Transplant Committee Selection Meeting (Tuesdays)
  • Cardiology Grand Rounds (Wednesdays)
  • Transplant/VAD Collaborative Care Meeting (Fridays)

Once a month, fellows join faculty for our section research meeting, during which the group discusses ongoing scholarly projects.

All slots have been filled for fellowship starting July 1, 2024. 

To apply for the fellowship, you must have completed an ACGME-accredited, three-year Cardiovascular Medicine Training Program prior to starting the Advanced Heart Disease fellowship. 

Applications for July 2025 will be accepted only through the ERAS website, which opens June 2024. For more information regarding Adult Heart Failure Transplant Cardiology-registered programs, please visit the Heart Failure Society of America website.  

Interview dates are currently planned for September. At this time, following guidelines from the Associate of American Medical Colleges, our interviews are virtual. We will notify candidates if the guidelines change.

Please send the following documents to ERAS when applying: 

  • Three (3) Letters of Recommendation (one preferably by program director) 

  • Personal Statement 

  • Medical School Transcript 

  • Medical Student Performance Evaluation/Dean's Letter 

  • J-1 or H1-B Visa applicants, send copy of DS-2019 and Visa status 

  • Wallet Size Color Photograph attached to your application 

  • USMLE Transcript - Transmitted by the NBME (International Medical Graduates only)

For additional information, please contact:  

Melanie Sunseri 

Program Coordinator   

Program Leadership

Lynn Punnoose, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Advanced Heart Failure/Transplant Fellowship Program 

Lynne Stevenson, MD

Professor of Medicine
Associate Director, Advanced Heart Failure/Transplant Fellowship Program

Kelly H. Schlendorf, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure Section