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Sunil Rao

Sunil V. Rao MD, FACC, FSCAI

Professor of Medicine, Duke University Health System; Section Chief, Cardiology, Durham Veterans Affairs Health System, Durham, North Carolina

Dr. Rao is Professor of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, and the Section Chief of Cardiology at the Durham VA Medical Center. He graduated summa cum laude from Miami University in Oxford, OH, and magna cum laude from The Ohio State University College of Medicine where he won the David Saylor Memorial Award for Cardiology Research. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine and fellowships in Cardiology and Interventional Cardiology at Duke University Medical Center. He served as Chief Fellow at The Duke Clinical Research Institute and was the Warren and Gloria A. Newman Fellow in Interventional Cardiology. After his training, he joined the faculty at Duke University Medical Center as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and rose to become Professor of Medicine in 2017. In 2005, he became the Director of the Catheterization Laboratories at the Durham VA Medical Center, and in 2014, he was appointed Chief of Cardiology at the Durham VA.

As the Chief of Cardiology, Dr. Rao has overseen the expansion of the faculty at the VA to increase patient access, start new clinical programs, and leverage VA research funding. New clinical programs include a structural heart disease service, a same-day discharge after PCI program, and a transradial PCI program. Under his leadership, the Durham VA is the leading transradial PCI center in the VA system nationally. His streamlining of the scheduling process for cardiac catheterization at the Durham VA led to decreased wait times and same-day access for outpatients, resulting in over $1 million saved annually. In 2014, under his guidance, the Durham VA was one of 10 VA medical centers to be awarded a grant to start a Women’s Heart Disease Program. Dr. Rao has also successfully secured over $1.2 million in funding from the VAHS to establish a home-based cardiac rehabilitation program and a nurse-led hypertension control program.

Under his leadership, members of the Durham VA Division of Cardiology have successfully obtained research funding from the NIH, the Department of Defense, and VA HSR&D across basic, translational, and clinical research domains.

Dr. Rao has published over 300 peer-reviewed manuscripts. His main research interests are pharmacological and interventional therapies for acute coronary syndromes, as well as bleeding and blood transfusion complications among patients with ischemic heart disease.  Dr. Rao has been the Principal Investigator of several randomized clinical trials including the first registry-based randomized trial performed in the United States titled the “SAFE-PCI for Women” trial comparing radial and femoral approaches to PCI in women.  He is the Principal Investigator for the Coordinating Center for the National Institute on Aging’s Partnership for Anemia: Clinical and Translational Trials in the Elderly (PACTTE). He is also a coinvestigator on the ACC-funded National Cardiovascular Data Registry’s (ACC-NCDR) CathPCI registry.

Dr. Rao has won awards for mentoring and teaching, including being the only Duke Cardiology faculty member to receive the Duke Cardiology Fellowship Mentoring Award three times. In addition, he won the W. Proctor Harvey MD Teaching Award from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) in 2011.

At the national level, Dr. Rao serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Circulation Cardiovascular Interventions, the interventional journal of the American Heart Association’s flagship Circulation family of journals, and was the chair of the SCAI 2019 Annual Scientific Sessions. In addition, Dr. Rao is currently the Vice President of SCAI and Co-Editor-In-Chief of the ACC Collaborative Management Pathway for board certification.