News is quickly spreading that Dr. David Sugarbaker will step down from his position as the Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital effective April 30. Dr Sugarbaker is best known for his relentless fight against mesothelioma.
As a staff nurse who had the pleasure of working alongside Dr. Sugarbaker for the past 20 years, I feel honored and privileged to have had that opportunity. I could certainly go on and on about what a wonderful physician he is and how much he cares, but the bottom line is that he will be sorely missed. Dr. Sugarbaker was truly passionate about his patients he cared for and he did everything within his power to help them win the war against mesothelioma.
During his daily rounds to the ICU and other floors, his energy and radiance set the tone for the day, and that enthusiasm will be hard to replace. His presence was almost electrifying. He would offer hope to the sickest of the sick convincing the patients to move forward. The patient response was remarkable.
Dr. David Sugarbaker has accepted a new position as Director of the Texas Lung Institute at the Baylor College of Medicine and Chief of Thoracic Surgery in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery. He also will be named as The Olga Keith Wiess Professor of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine.
Selfishly, all of us at Brigham and Women’s Hospital will miss him, but I believe the mesothelioma world will benefit greatly by sharing his expertise outside of Boston. Perhaps this played into Dr. Sugarbaker’s decision to move on, and I respect that decision.
During his 25 years of service at Brigham and Women’s, Dr. Sugarbaker has made significant contributions to patient care, research and teaching which include the establishment of the first lung transplant program in New England. He also founded the International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham.
Dr. Sugarbaker first came to Brigham in 1979 as a surgical resident. Upon completion of his residency in 1986, he left to obtain cardiothoracic training at the University of Toronto. He returned to Brigham and Women’s in 1988 as
the Chief of the newly formed Division of Thoracic Surgery, a program which is now recognized as one of the best in the nation.
Dr. Sugarbaker has been focusing on pleural mesothelioma since 1988, and his contributions to the treatment of this devastating disease have helped countless patients and families who had no other options. In 2002, he founded the International Mesothelioma Program with the primary goal of finding a cure for this disease. This program is the largest of its kind and attracts patients from around the world.
Dr. Sugarbaker played a leading role in the establishment of the Tissue and Blood Repository at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1989. This was one of the first tissue repositories in the U.S. and has led to extremely fruitful collaborative research projects. He is deeply committed to teaching the next generation of physicians and has mentored hundreds of residents and fellows during his time at Brigham and Women’s. His contributions to education also include the establishment of a unique fellowship in thoracic oncology and a minimally invasive thoracic surgery fellowship, as well as a visiting scholar program for Thoracic Surgery.