Congratulations to our Thoracic Surgery Fellows, Vahram Ornekian & Peter White

July 28, 2020

Congratulations to Vahram Ornekian, MD and Peter White, MD who recently completed thoracic surgery fellowship training at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  These two individuals proceed into the field of thoracic surgery after having completed their two-year fellowship in addition to Dr. Ornekian’s five years of vascular surgical training, and Dr. White’s seven years of general surgery training.

Through the collaborative efforts between our team at UTHealth and MD Anderson Cancer Center, we offer a comprehensive two-year thoracic surgery training program, accepting two fellows each year to train in either the general thoracic or cardiothoracic surgery tracks. This year, Ornekian graduates from the cardiothoracic surgery track, and White graduates from the general thoracic surgery track. The two fellowship-graduates have spent the last two years rotating between the MD Anderson Cancer Center and Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute, where they worked with leaders in the fields of cardiothoracic and thoracic surgery on complex cases.

Dr. White during the virtual graduation celebration, receiving his cowboy hat; a thoracic surgery graduation tradition.

“I’m thankful to my mentors who inspired me and encouraged me to pursue thoracic surgery,” says White. Prior to joining the fellowship program, White completed his medical school degree and subsequent general surgery residency in Ann Arbor Michigan at The University of Michigan. He is a graduate of Kalamazoo College where he obtained dual bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry.  He explains that he has “always had an inclination to build and tinker.” “I appreciate that thoracic surgery allows me to innovate and develop surgical treatment plans tailored to each individual patient,” he says. “I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life with my wife and daughter, and being able to establish a practice where I can provide patients with cutting-edge surgical cancer care.”

Dr. Orenkian during the thoracic surgery virtual graduation; in a gifted cowboy hat, a thoracic surgery graduation tradition.

A Los Angeles native, Ornekian will begin his career this September at the Advanced Cardiothoracic Surgery Group of Los Angeles in downtown LA. “I’m looking forward to being able to serve the community I grew up in,” he says. Ornekian graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in biology, followed by a graduate degree in physiology and biophysics from Georgetown University. He obtained his medical degree from Albany Medical College and completed a five-year integrated vascular surgery residency program at Georgetown. “Vascular surgery interested me because it is elegant, complex, and there is good variety,” he says. “I had a great rotation on cardiac surgery during residency, and became interested in it; specifically in aortic surgery.” Ornekian, his wife, and his dog Gigi relocate to Los Angeles early-August.

We send our warm wishes, congratulations, and gratitude to Drs. Ornekian and White as they begin their thoracic surgery careers. Many thanks to the faculty, staff, family members, and friends who supported both physicians during their training. Thank you to Pearl Adams, education program manager for providing images of the graduation celebration.

-Caliann Ferguson