Professor Peter Zilla, head of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Chris Barnard Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, has been awarded Austria’s highest national accolade, the Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria.
The Austrian-born Zilla was recognised for his groundbreaking work in the development of innovative concepts for trans-catheter heart valve technologies. He received the award, granted by the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, at a ceremony at Groote Schuur Hospital last week, attended by about 60 people, including UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
Zilla became head of the Chris Barnard Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery in 2000. Under his leadership, the department expanded both its staff and operations following a steep decline in adult cardiac surgery cases in the second half of the 1990s. Over the past decade, the department has become a leading training institution for cardiothoracic surgeons from across Africa.
In 2008, Zilla also co-founded Strait Access Technologies (SAT), of which he remains chief executive officer and medical director. As a UCT start-up company, its objective is to provide access to heart valve therapies for millions of patients in the developing world.
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