Our History

When the creation of the East Carolina Heart Institute was announced in 2004, ECU and Vidant Medical Center promised "a new approach that will offer one center of excellence for innovations in cardiovascular disease research, treatment, prevention, and education".

Part of that promise included the incorporation of the Robotic Surgery Center for Training and Education, which was established in 2002 under the direction of cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. L. Wiley Nifong. Currently, the Robotic Surgery Center is a lead institution in a national, multi-center clinical trial using the da Vinci® Si Surgical System for robot-assisted mitral valve repair. In the past fourteen years, this center has trained over 900 surgical teams from around the world in robotic procedures.

Officially opening its doors in 2009, the building standing on ECU's Health Sciences Campus and six-story hospital tower at Vidant Medical Center are working to provide life-saving cardiovascular care to the patients of eastern North Carolina. By completely reinventing the manner with which cardiovascular disease is perceived and treated, the East Carolina Heart Institute has created a working model for what one day could become a nationwide shift in the way health care, across all disease processes, is delivered.


ECHI State of the Heart

The East Carolina Heart Institute is dedicated
exclusively to cardiovascular care.


Leadership

L. Wiley Nifong

Dr. Wiley Nifong is an Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the East Carolina Heart Institute. He is the Director of Surgical Robotics and Director of Surgical Research and has been involved with the training of over 900 surgical teams in the use of minimally invasive and robotic surgery. He is a pioneer of new technology to aid minimally invasive procedures including atrial fibrillation ablation energy sources, anastomotic devices, adherence devices, sutureless technology, and intracardiac retraction.


Robotic Surgery Training

ECHI, under the leadership of Dr. Randolph Chitwood, was the lead institution in a national, multi-center clinical trial using the daVinci® Surgical System for robot-assisted mitral valve repair. Following early success with the technique, a robotic training center at East Carolina University was established in 2002 under the direction of cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. L. Wiley Nifong. As of today, this center has trained over 900 surgical teams from around the world in robotic techniques for most cardiac procedures and all mitral valve procedures.

Robotics Lab Staff

Robotics Lab Team: Rebecca Gilbird, Susan Bewick, Dr. L. Wiley Nifong, Dr. You Su Sun