Departments & Divisions
Aaron M. Abarbanell, MD, MSCR
Division Chief, Congenital Heart Program
UT Health Pediatric Heart Center
Dr. Abarbanell is a board-certified congenital cardiothoracic surgeon. His philosophy centers on serving patients and their families as if they were family members. He enjoys performing the full range of neonatal, pediatric and adult congenital heart surgeries.
Dr. Abarbanell brings a width-depth of leadership tools and experience as a former active-duty Naval Officer (Surface Warfare) and former medical device sales representative for Ethicon Endo-Surgery. These experiences lead him to his vocation as a congenital cardiothoracic surgeon.
He trained at the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Emory University and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (University of Southern California). Dr. Abarbanell comes to UT from Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. He looks forward to humbly serving the community in San Antonio and South Texas as the congenital cardiothoracic surgery program grows.
- 2017 - Postgraduate - ACGME Congenital Cardiac Surgery Fellow - Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles
- 2016 - Postgraduate - Thoracic Surgery Residency - Emory University School of Medicine
- 2013 - Postgraduate - General Surgery Residency - Indiana University School of Medicine
- 2013 - Postgraduate - Global Health Program - Indiana University School of Medicine
- 2010 - Clinical Investigator Training Enhancement Program Master of Science in Clinical Research - Indiana University
- 2006 - MD - University of Michigan Medical School
- 2001 - Post-baccalaureate premedical - Scripps College Post-Baccalaureate Premedical Program
- 1995 - Naval Professional School - Navy Surface Warfare Officer's School (Valedictorian)
- 1993 - Bachelor of Arts in Romance Studies - Undergraduate - Cornell University
1989-1993 Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Scholarship
1997 Navy Achievement Medal, superior performance award.
1999 Navy Commendation Medal, professional achievement award.
2003 Univ of Michigan Med Sch, Eagle Eye Editorial Award
2005 Univ of Michigan, Dean’s Commendation for Excellence in Clinical Skills & the Art of Medicine
2010 Society of Thoracic Surgeons “Looking to the Future” Award
2017 Association for Academic Surgery Cardiothoracic Young Investigator Finalist
- 2020-present - Associate Professor - UTHSCSA
- 2017-2020 - Assistant Professor of Surgery - Washington University in St. Louis
- 2016-2017 - Resident Clinical Instructor, Pediatrics - University of Southern California
- 2015-2016 - Administrative Chief Resident, Thoracic Surgery Residency - University of Southern California
- 1999-2000 - Ethicon Endo-Surgery Sales Representative
- 1993-1999 - United States Naval Officer
Research & Grants
Dr. Abarbanell’s current research focuses on international cardiac surgery in low-and-middle income countries, access to care and clinical outcomes. He is a prior recipient of an F32 and LRP grant (PI: Dr. Daniel Meldrum) for work-on myocardial ischemia and reperfusion and Toll-like receptors.
He is also passionate about resident education and continuity of healthcare across one’s life.
2018-2020 ECMO Steering committee, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
2018-2020 ECMO Anticoagulation committee, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
2018-2020 Infection Control Subcommittee, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
2019-2020 Operating Room Collaborative, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
2019-2020 SSI Taskforce Prevention, St. Louis Children’s Hospital
2003-present Member, Christian Medical and Dental Associations
2010-present Senior member, Association of Academic Surgeons
2010-2016 Officer, Ruben J. Williams Foundation—501(c)3 organization focused on the
provision of surgical care in Eastern Africa.
2010-present Member, Society of Thoracic Surgeons
2014-present Member, Southern Thoracic Surgical Association
2019-present Faculty Fellow, The Carver Project
1. Gollin GG, Moores DM, Abarbanell A. A comparison of postoperative recovery after laparoscopic and open pyloromyotomy. Ped Endosurgery & Innovative Techniques. 2001:389-392
2. Gollin G, Abarbanell A, Moores D. Oral antibiotics in the management of perforated appendicitis in children. Am Surg. 2002 Dec; 68(12):1072-1074.
3. Gollin G, Abarbanell A, Baerg JE. Peritoneal drainage as definitive management of intestinal perforation in extremely low-birth-weight infants. J Pediatr Surg. 2003 Dec; 38(12):1814-1817.
4. Teknos TN, Islam M, Arenberg DA, Pan Q, Carskadon SL, Abarbanell AM, Marcus B, Paul S, Vandenberg CD, Carron M, Nor JE, Merajver SD. The effect of tetrathiomolybdate on cytokine expression, angiogenesis, and tumor growth in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2005 Mar; 131(3):204-211.
5. Markel TA, Crisostomo PR, Wang M, Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Meldrum DR. Right ventricular TNF resistance during endotoxemia: the differential effects on ventricular function. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2007 Nov; 293(5):R1893- 1897.
6. Terrell AM, Crisostomo PR, Markel TA, Wang M, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Meldrum DR. Postischemic infusion of 17-beta-estradiol protects myocardial function and viability. J Surg Res. 2008 May 15; 146(2):218-224.
7. Crisostomo PR, Abarbanell AM, Wang M, Lahm T, Wang Y, Meldrum DR. Embryonic stem cells attenuate myocardial dysfunction and inflammation after surgical global ischemia via paracrine actions. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2008 Oct;295(4):H1726-1735.
8. Wang Y, Crisostomo PR, Wang M, Weil B, Abarbanell A, Poynter J, Manukyan MC, Meldrum DR. Nitric oxide suppresses the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor and hepatocyte growth factor from human mesenchymal stem cells. Shock. 2008 Nov; 30(5):527-531.
9. Zeller CN, Wang Y, Markel TA, Weil B, Abarbanell A, Herrmann JL, Kelly ML, Coffey A, Meldrum DR. Role of tumor necrosis factor receptor 1 in sex differences of stem cell mediated cardioprotection. Ann Thorac Surg. 2009 Mar;87(3):812-819
10. Wang M, Wang Y, Weil B, Abarbanell A, Herrmann J, Tan J, Kelly M, Meldrum DR. Estrogen receptor beta mediates increased activation of PI3K/Akt signaling and improved myocardial function in female hearts following acute ischemia. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Apr; 296(4):R972-978.
11. Weil BR, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Wang Y, Meldrum DR. High glucose concentration in cell culture medium does not acutely affect human mesenchymal stem cell growth factor production or proliferation. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Jun; 296(6):R1735-1743.
12. Wang M, Wang Y, Abarbanell A, Tan J, Weil B, Herrmann J, Meldrum DR. Both endogenous and exogenous testosterone decrease myocardial STAT3 activation and SOCS3 expression after acute ischemia and reperfusion. Surgery. 2009 Aug; 146(2):138-144.
13. Vornehm ND, Wang M, Abarbanell A, Herrmann J, Weil B, Tan J, Wang Y, Kelly M, Meldrum DR. Acute postischemic treatment with estrogen receptor-alpha agonist or estrogen receptor-beta agonist improves myocardial recovery. Surgery. 2009 Aug; 146(2):145-154.
14. Weil BR, Markel TA, Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Meldrum DR. Mesenchymal stem cells enhance the viability and proliferation of human fetal intestinal epithelial cells following hypoxic injury via paracrine mechanisms. Surgery. 2009 Aug; 146(2):190-197.
15. Wang Y, Wang M, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Herrmann JL, Tan J, Novotny NM, Coffey AC, Meldrum DR. MEK mediates the novel cross talk between TNFR2 and TGF-EGFR in enhancing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion from human mesenchymal stem cells. Surgery. 2009 Aug;146(2):198-205
16. Wang Y, Weil BR, Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Tan J, Markel TA, Kelly ML, Meldrum DR. MEK, p38, and PI-3K mediate cross talk between EGFR and TNFR in enhancing hepatocyte growth factor production from human mesenchymal stem cells. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2009 Nov; 297(5):C1284-1293.
17. Herrmann JL, Wang Y, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Tan J, Meldrum DR. Preconditioning mesenchymal stem cells with transforming growth factor-alpha improves mesenchymal stem cell-mediated cardioprotection. Shock. 2010 Jan; 33(1):24-30.
18. Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Manukyan MC, Poynter JA, Wang Y, Coffey AC, Meldrum DR. Gender dimorphisms in progenitor and stem cell function in cardiovascular disease. J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2010 Apr; 3(2):103-113.
19. Abarbanell AM, Wang Y, Herrmann JL, Weil BR, Poynter JA, Manukyan MC, Meldrum DR. Toll-like receptor 2 mediates mesenchymal stem cell-associated myocardial recovery and VEGF production following acute ischemia-reperfusion injury. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2010 May; 298(5):H1529-1536.
20. Kelly ML, Wang M, Crisostomo PR, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Weil BR, Meldrum DR. TNF receptor 2, not TNF receptor 1, enhances mesenchymal stem cell-mediated cardiac protection following acute ischemia. Shock. 2010 Jun;33(6):602-607.
21. Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Wang Y, Poynter JA, Manukyan MC, Meldrum DR. Postinfarct intramyocardial injection of mesenchymal stem cells pretreated with TGF- alpha improves acute myocardial function. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2010 Jul; 299(1):R371-378.
22. Weil BR, Manukyan MC, Herrmann JL, Wang Y, Abarbanell AM, Poynter JA, Meldrum GeneDR. Signaling via GPR30 protects the myocardium from ischemia/reperfusion injury. Surgery. 2010 Aug; 148(2):436-443.
23. Weil BR, Manukyan MC, Herrmann JL, Wang Y, Abarbanell AM, Poynter JA, Meldrum DR. Mesenchymal stem cells attenuate myocardial functional depression and reduce systemic and myocardial inflammation during endotoxemia. Surgery. 2010 Aug; 148(2):444-452.
24. Tan J, Weil BR, Abarbanell AM, Wang Y, Herrmann JL, Dake ML, Meldrum DR. Ablation of TNF-alpha receptors influences mesenchymal stem cell-mediated cardiac protection against ischemia. Shock. 2010 Sep; 34(3):236-242.
25. Manukyan MC, Weil BR, Wang Y, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Poynter JA, Meldrum DR. The phosphoinositide-3 kinase survival signaling mechanism in sepsis. Shock. 2010 Nov; 34(5):442-449.
26. Wang Y, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Weil BR, Poynter J, Manukyan MC, Crisostomo PR, Meldrum DR. Toll-like receptor signaling pathways and the evidence linking toll-like receptor signaling to cardiac ischemia/reperfusion injury. Shock. 2010 Dec; 34(6):548-557.
27. Wang Y*, Abarbanell AM*, Herrmann JL, Weil BR, Manukyan MC, Poynter JA, Meldrum DR. TLR4 inhibits mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) STAT3 activation and thereby exerts deleterious effects on MSC-mediated cardioprotection. PLoS One. 2010 Dec 3; 5(12):e14206. *co-authors
28. Abarbanell AM, Hartley JA, Herrmann JL, Weil BR, Wang Y, Manukyan MC, Poynter JA, Meldrum DR. Exogenous high-mobility group box 1 improves myocardial recovery after acute global ischemia/reperfusion injury. Surgery. 2011 Mar; 149(3):329-335.
29. Herrmann JL, Weil BR, Abarbanell AM, Wang Y, Poynter JA, Manukyan MC, Meldrum DR. IL-6 and TGF-alpha costimulate mesenchymal stem cell vascular endothelial growth factor production by ERK, JNK, and PI3K-mediated mechanisms. Shock. 2011 May;35(5):512-516
30. Manukyan MC, Weil BR, Wang Y, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Poynter JA, Brewster BD, Meldrum DR. Female stem cells are superior to males in preserving myocardial function following endotoxemia. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Jun; 300(6):R1506- 1514.
31. Manukyan MC, Alvernaz CH, Poynter JA, Wang Y, Brewster BD, Weil BR, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Crowe BJ, Keck AC, Meldrum DR. Interleukin-10 protects the ischemic heart from reperfusion injury via the STAT3 pathway. Surgery. 2011 Aug; 150(2):231-239.
32. Crowe B, Poynter JA, Manukyan MC, Wang Y, Brewster BD, Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Meldrum DR. Pretreatment with intracoronary mimosine improves postischemic myocardial functional recovery. Surgery. 2011 Aug; 150(2):191-196.
33. Poynter JA, Manukyan MC, Wang Y, Brewster BD, Herrmann JL, Weil BR, Abarbanell AM, Meldrum DR. Systemic pretreatment with dimethyloxalylglycine increases myocardial HIF-1 alpha and VEGF production and improves functional recovery after acute ischemia/reperfusion. Surgery. 2011 Aug; 150(2):278-283.
34. Manukyan MC, Keck AC, Poynter JA, Wang Y, Weil BR, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Crowe BJ, Alvernaz C, Meldrum DR. Transforming growth factor-alpha does not protect myocardium during acute ischemia/reperfusion. Surgery. 2011 Aug;150(2):339- 346
35. Poynter JA, Herrmann JL, Manukyan MC, Wang Y, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Brewster BD, Meldrum DR. Intracoronary mesenchymal stem cells promote post-ischemic myocardial functional recovery, decrease inflammation, and reduce apoptosis via a signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 mechanism. J Am Coll Surg. 2011 Aug; 213(2):253-260.
36. Weil BR, Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Manukyan MC, Poynter JA, Meldrum DR. Intravenous infusion of mesenchymal stem cells is associated with improved myocardial function during endotoxemia. Shock. 2011 Sep; 36(3):235-241.
37. Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Wang Y, Weil BR, Poynter JA, Manukyan MC, Meldrum DR. Transforming Growth Factor-alpha Enhances Stem Cell-Mediated Postischemic Myocardial Protection. Ann Thorac Surg. 2011 Nov; 92(5):1719-1725.
38. Luo, Y, Wang Y, Poynter JA, Manukyan MC, Herrman JL, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Meldrum DR. Pretreating mesenchymal stem cells with interleukin-1beta and transforming growth factor-beta synergistically increases vascular endothelial growth factor production and improves mesenchymal stem cell-mediated myocardial protection after acute ischemia. Surgery. 2012 Mar; 151(3):353-363.
39. Herrmann JL, Fiege JW, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Wang Y, Poynter JA, Manukyan MC, Brewster BD, Meldrum DR. TGF-alpha equalizes age disparities in stem cell- mediated cardioprotection. J Surg Res. 2012 Dec; 176(2):386-394.
40. Kim HS, Schechter MA, Manning PB, Eghtesady P, Balzer DT, Shahanavaz S, Rockefeller TA, Abarbanell AM. Surgical Versus Percutaneous Closure of PDA in Preterm Infants: Procedural Charges and Outcomes. J Surg Res. 2019 Nov;243:41-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2019.04.069
41. Callahan CP, Merritt TC, Canter MW, Eghtesady P, Manning PB, Abarbanell AM. Symptom persistence after vascular ring repair in children. J Ped Surg. 2020 Jan 10:S0022-3468(19)30932-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2019.12.022
42. Carvajal HG, Canter MW, Abarbanell AM, Eghtesady P. Does ascending aorta size affect Norwood outcomes in hypoplastic left heart with aortic atresia? Ann Thorac Surg. 2020 Mar 22:S0003-4975(20)30411-2. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2020.02.037
43. Schill MR, Douds MT, Burns EL, Lahart MA, Said AS, Abarbanell AM. Is anticoagulation with bivalirudin comparable to heparin for pediatric extracorporeal life support? Results from a high-volume center. Artif Organs. 2020 Jun 18. doi: 10.1111/aor.13758
1. Miller JR, Lancaster RS, Abarbanell AM, Manning PB, Eghtesady P. Anomalous systemic artery to the left lower lobe: Literature review and a new surgical technique. World J Pediatr Congenit Heart Surg. 2018 May;9(3): 326-332
2. Orr WB, Johnson MC, Abarbanell AM, Sintek M. Recanalization of an atretic intramural left main coronary artery after bypass surgery in a pediatric patient with anomalous aortic origin of the left main coronary artery arising from the right sinus of Valsalva. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. 2019 Dec 5. doi: 10.1002/ccd.28633. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 31802625.
3. Sekhon S, Barger PM, Abarbanell AM. Outcomes 60 years after surgical valvotomy for isolated congenital pulmonary valve stenosis: a case series. J Cardiothoracic Surg. (Accepted Dec 2020).
4. MacGregor RM, Wilson NA, Shakhsheer BA, Keller MS, Dillion PA, Abarbanell AM. Extended sternotomy with lateral neck incision: An alternative approach for children with large apical chest masses with thoracic inlet involvement. J Ped Surg. 2021 Jan 19. (In press)
1. Crisostomo PR, Wang M, Markel TA, Lahm T, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Meldrum DR. Stem cell mechanisms and paracrine effects: potential in cardiac surgery. Shock. 2007 Oct; 28(4):375-383.
2. Ray R, Novotny NM, Crisostomo PR, Lahm T, Abarbanell A, Meldrum DR. Sex steroids and stem cell function. Mol Med. 2008 Jul-Aug;14(7-8):493-501
3. Weil BR, Markel TA, Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Kelly ML, Meldrum DR. Stem cells in sepsis. Ann Surg. 2009 Jul; 250(1):19-27.
4. Herrmann JL, Markel TA, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Wang M, Wang Y, Tan J, Meldrum DR. Proinflammatory stem cell signaling in cardiac ischemia. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2009 Aug; 11(8):1883-1896.
5. Abarbanell AM, Coffey AC, Fehrenbacher JW, Beckman DJ, Herrmann JL, Weil B, Meldrum DR. Proinflammatory cytokine effects on mesenchymal stem cell therapy for the ischemic heart. Ann Thorac Surg. 2009 Sep; 88(3):1036-1043.
6. Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Wang Y, Wang M, Tan J, Meldrum DR. Cell- based therapy for ischemic heart disease: a clinical update. Ann Thorac Surg. 2009 Nov; 88(5):1714-1722.
7. Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Weil BR, Wang Y, Tan J, Moberly SP, Fieger JW, Meldrum DR. Animal models of myocardial and vascular injury. J Surg Res. 2010 Aug; 162(2):239-249.
8. Poynter JA, Beckman DJ, Abarbanell AM, Herrmann JL, Manukyan MC, Weil BR, Bumb K, Meldrum DR. Surgical treatment of atrial fibrillation: the time is now. Ann Thorac Surg. 2010 Dec; 90(6):2079-2086.
9. Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Weil BR, Manukyan MC, Poynter JA, Brewster BJ, Wang Y, Meldrum DR. Optimizing stem cell function for the treatment of ischemic heart disease. J Surg Res. 2011 Mar; 166(1):138-145.
10. Weil BR, Manukyan MC, Herrmann JL, Abarbanell AM, Poynter JA, Wang Y, Meldrum DR. The immunomodulatory properties of mesenchymal stem cells: implications for surgical disease. J Surg Res. 2011 May 1; 167(1):78-86.
11. Miller JR, Lancaster RS, Callahan C, Abarbanell AM, Eghtesady P. An overview of mechanical circulatory support in single-ventricle patients. Transl Pediatr. 2018 Apr;7(2): 151-161
12. Costello JP, Carvajal HG, Abarbanell AM, Eghtesady P, Nath DS. Surgical considerations in infant lung transplantation: Challenges and opportunities. Am J Transplant. 2021 Jan;21(1):15-20
2016-2017 Resident Clinical Instructor, Pediatrics, University of Southern California
2017–present Assistant Professor of Surgery, Washington University in St. Louis
- 2019 - American Board of Thoracic Surgery (Congenital Cardiac Surgery)
- 2017 - American Board of Thoracic Surgery
- 2013 - American Board of Surgery