Dr. Sonya Burgess


Research Award2021 Escalator Awards

The Award strengthens my status as an academic cardiologist and lets me lead a project I have not had meaningful funding for in the past.

Back to Winners Page


This research project studies radiation exposure among female interventional cardiologists. The study aims to accurately quantify underlead radiation doses to female interventional cardiologists working in the catheterization lab to allow estimation of likely fetal dose to pregnant cardiologists. There is a paucity of available data for female interventional cardiology trainees, fellows and interventional cardiologists regarding occupational radiation exposure and likely fetal risk when pregnant. In some European countries, a 1mSv limit throughout pregnancy is imposed by law.

In others, such as Italy, national law forbids entry to an area with occupational radiation and mandates immediate reporting of pregnancy. In American and Australasia, interventional cardiologists and trainees work throughout their pregnancies with monitoring of likely fetal dose and an American National council on radiation planning (NCRP) limit of 5mSv, or 0.5mSv per month. Available evidence suggests heritable or developmental risks to the fetus of pregnant interventional cardiology staff are extremely low, and similar to those of the general population where dose limits are adhered to.

However, evaluating the true risk of radiation exposure, while pregnant, from performing cardiac catheterization procedures remains challenging and this evidence gap may contribute in part to the underrepresentation of women in interventional cardiology. There is a paucity of contemporary data adequately demonstrating the radiation exposure to the uterus of interventional cardiologists and thereby the likely fetal dose in interventional cardiologists working in the cardiac catheterization laboratory.


Dr. Sonya Burgess is an interventional cardiologist/academic and clinical cardiologist in Sydney, Australia, working at Nepean Public hospital, Sydney South West Private Hospital, South West Cardiology, and Penrith Specialist Group.

She has recently submitted her PhD with the University of New South Wales studying incomplete revascularization in ST-elevation myocardial infarction. She received her MBChB from the University of Otago in 2001 and has a BSc in biochemistry. Dr. Burgess completed her advanced cardiology training at Wellington Hospital in New Zealand. She went on to complete a 2.5-year interventional fellowship at Liverpool Hospital in Sydney, one of the state’s largest hospitals, led by Stanford-trained interventionalists Dr. Craig Juergens and Dr. Sidney Lo, an internationally recognized CTO-PCI expert and the current Chair of the Interventional council of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand. 

Dr. Burgess is a skilled interventional cardiologist with experience in high volume academic centers. She is an academic cardiologist with recent first author publications in the NEJMJACCCirculationJAMA CardiologyAHJAJCHLC, and IMJ. Academic, ambitious, and passionate about delivering high quality evidence-based medicine to her patients, she has won one of only 2 international positions in the 2019-2021 SCAI Emerging Leader Fellowship Program. Her research examines STEMI, incomplete revascularization, multivessel disease, outcome differences for women with IHD, the gender gap in cardiology, and medical workforce diversity.  

Dr. Burgess is the first New Zealand woman to become an interventional cardiologist and is one of only 19 female interventional cardiologists in Australia and New Zealand. Dr. Burgess also is a founding member of the Women in Interventional Cardiology of Australia and New Zealand (WiiCAN), and the Women in Cardiology (WIC) in Australia and New Zealand. She is an active member of the cardiology community, a member of the ANZET meeting planning committee, NBMLHD Ethics committee, a contributing author for the EAPCI Radiation safety writing group, and part of multiple WAO initiatives including their Leadership Academy, CTO CLIMB program, and global parenting survey writing group.