The Bicuspid Aortic Foundation is committed to promoting the well
being of those affected by thoracic aortic disease and supporting
the pioneering work of dedicated aortic physicians on the leading
edge of treatment. There are several aspects to this, as expressed
by the Foundation mission statement.
Bicuspid Aortic Foundation Mission Statement
The Bicuspid Aortic Foundation's mission is to:
• promote the well being and longevity of those affected by
bicuspid aortic valve disease, thoracic aortic aneurysm and
dissection, and any and all related conditions
• provide information and educational resources for patients, their
families, and the general public
• encourage and support medical professionals and research
scientists in exchanging information and advancing understanding
of bicuspid aortic valve disease and thoracic aortic aneurysm and
dissection, their underlying causes, and the optimization of care
for these conditions
• seek research funding for bicuspid aortic valve and thoracic
aortic aneurysm and dissection conditions
The Bicuspid Aortic Foundation originated in Los Angeles,
California, in 2002. It began with a shared recognition of the need
for advocacy in the treatment of all thoracic aortic conditions,
regardless of cause, including bicuspid aortic valve disease. The
Foundation is led and guided by individuals who understand the
challenges faced by those with an aortic condition and the
importance of advancing medical and surgical treatment through
In its early stages, the Foundation focused on broadening the
understanding of bicuspid aortic valve disease, other aortic
conditions, and the needs of those who have them. The launch of
the BAF website in 2004 has given the Foundation the opportunity
to reach out to anyone seeking information about thoracic aortic
disease, regardless of the underlying cause.
The Foundation is a California non-profit corporation with Federal
tax exempt status under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal
Scientific Advisory Board
Chairman - Sharo S. Raissi, MD, FACS, FACCP
Dr. Raissi is a cardiothoracic surgeon practicing in Los Angeles.
He is board certified in general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery,
and surgical critical care medicine.
Simon Body, MD
Dr. Body is Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School, and an
anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. His
vision led to the BAV-Genetics research effort, which has
blossomed into an international collaboration of centers studying
the genetics of BAV.
Randall B. Griepp, MD
Dr. Griepp is Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai
School of Medicine in New York. From its inception in 1988, Dr.
Griepp has been the Program Director of the Aortic Surgery
Symposium, a two day biannual conference with an international
faculty focusing on the surgical treatment of aortic disease.
John Harold, MD, FACC
Dr. Harold practices cardiology in Los Angeles.
Eric Isselbacher, MD
Dr. Isselbacher is Associate Director, Massachusetts General
Hospital Heart Center and Co-Director of the Thoracic Aortic
Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Teruhisa Kazui, MD, PhD
Dr. Kazui has now retired after serving as Professor and
Chairman, Department of Surgery, and Chief of Cardiovascular
Surgery, at Hamamatsu University School of Medicine,
Nicholas T. Kouchoukos, MD
Dr. Kouchoukos practices thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at
Missouri Baptist Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri. His areas
of specialization include surgery of the aortic root, thoracic, and
thoracoabdominal aorta. He is active in many professional
organizations and was President of the Society of Thoracic
Surgery in 1999.
Cheryl Maslen, PhD
Dr. Maslen is professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, and
Molecular & Medical Genetics in the OHSU School of Medicine,
and is Associate Director of the OHSU Heart Research Center.
Wouter Schievink, MD
Dr. Schievink is Director of Neurovascular Surgery at the Maxine
Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in
Jason Sperling, MD
Dr. Sperling is the Sub-Specialty Director of the Thoracic
Aneurysm and Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program at Valley Heart and
Vascular Institute in New Jersey.
Board of Directors
Chairman and President -
Ms. Arlys K.Velebir
Ms. Velebir resides in
southern California. Her
husband has bicuspid
aortic valve disease and
has undergone surgeries
for aortic valve
replacement (twice) and
ascending aortic aneurysm
resection. He also suffered
an extensive stroke due to
valvular strands. Other
family members have also
been diagnosed with
Vice Chairman Emeritis -
Ms. Fiorenza Courtright-
Ms. Courtright Lucas
resides with her husband
in southern California. She
has undergone ascending
aortic aneurysm surgery.
Member - Robert Gies
Mr. Gies lives in western
Montana. He successfully
underwent surgery for BAV,
aneurysm, and the MAZE
procedure was also
Member - Ms. Carrie
Ms. Mettler lives on a
ranch in northern
California. She has
bicuspid aortic valve
disease, which also affects
another member of her
family. She has had a
pacemaker for many years
underwent brain aneurysm
surgery in January, 2004.
Treasurer - Dr. Sharo S.
Raissi, MD, FACS, FACCP
(Please see biography
under Scientific Advisory
Secretary - Ms. Terry
Ms. Lopez lives in Hawaii.
She brings her experience
with familial aortic disease,
which has affected several
family members, to the
Member - Ms. B.J.
Ms. Sanders, a pediatric
physical therapist, resides
with her family in coastal
North Carolina. She has
bicuspid aortic valve
Creating a Climate of Hope, an Atmosphere of Caring, and Information for All