In late August, David J. Sugarbaker, MD, a pioneer of mesothelioma therapy and analysis, a gifted surgeon, and an excellent mentor, handed away from most cancers at age 65. This was an surprising shock for all the mesothelioma group. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside Dr. Sugarbaker for over 20 years at Brigham and Girls’s Hospital (BWH) the place he was the founding chief of the division of thoracic surgical procedure, in addition to the founder and director of the Worldwide Mesothelioma Program (IMP). Dr. Sugarbaker had a profound influence on the best way we deal with mesothelioma at this time, pushing the boundaries of surgical procedure and multi-disciplinary care to delay the lifetime of his sufferers. He devoted his life to discovering a remedy for mesothelioma and had an amazing affect on all of us right here on the Brigham via coaching, collaboration, mentorship, and help.
David Sugarbaker was born in Jefferson Metropolis, Missouri in 1953. He was the eighth of ten kids— 5 of whom turned physicians. His father was a distinguished surgical oncologist and inspiration to David who assisted his father within the clinic, working room, and analysis lab beginning at a younger age. Dr. Sugarbaker double majored in biology and philosophy at Wheaton Faculty and proceeded to Cornell Medical Faculty, the place he was inducted into the celebrated Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society for the very best college students in medical research. He, like his three brothers, graduated from Cornell on the prime of his class and was accepted into the famend Basic Surgical procedure residency on the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (which later turned half of what’s now often called Brigham and Girls’s Hospital) in Boston.
Whereas serving as Chief Surgical Resident at BWH, Dr. Sugarbaker’s medical data, surgical ability, and unbounded vitality influenced a era of surgical residents. After graduating from common surgical procedure coaching at BWH in 1986, he accomplished two further years of superior coaching in Thoracic Surgical procedure at Toronto Basic Hospital. Following the completion of his residency coaching, Dr. Sugarbaker was recruited again to Boston to function the primary Division Chief of Thoracic Surgical procedure at BWH. As the pinnacle of the primary non-cardiac division of thoracic surgical procedure within the United Sates, he would go on to change into one of many leaders within the area, incomes his fame and doing a few of his most essential work at BWH.
In 2002, Dr. Sugarbaker based the Worldwide Mesothelioma Program at BWH, the place he led main developments in mesothelioma therapy that included extra-pleural pneumonectomy, an aggressive surgical procedure that removes a cancerous lung, the liner across the lung and coronary heart, together with close by lymph nodes and a portion of the diaphragm. His expertise on this operation led to a fives instances discount within the related operative mortality price and led to its acceptance as the suitable surgical therapy of mesothelioma across the globe. Dr. Sugarbaker succeeded in acquiring even increased mesothelioma remedy charges and developed intra-operative heated chemotherapy to wash the within of the chest for an hour on the time of operation. His surgical improvements at BWH helped decrease the operative mortality price, prolonged the lives of many sufferers, and moved the mesothelioma group nearer to discovering a remedy. Dr. Sugarbaker was dubbed “Dr. Mesothelioma,” as he was thought of one of the forefront specialists in mesothelioma.
With an in depth data of all present mesothelioma therapies and a capability to successfully deal with sufferers, Dr. Sugarbaker eagerly shared his analysis and experience with the medical group. Throughout his tenure at BWH, he printed over 300 scholarly articles. He additionally constructed a tissue financial institution that helped to delineate the character of cancers and the physique’s response to these cancers. This financial institution has allowed quite a few collaborators all through the world to advance our data of lung most cancers, esophageal most cancers, and mesothelioma.
Whereas he was typically acknowledged for his scientific excellence, innovation, educating, and analysis, Dr. Sugarbaker was additionally recognized for the best way he cared for his sufferers. He was dedicated to offering them with the very best therapy in addition to creating an surroundings that would offer hope and luxury to the sickest of the sick. He modeled compassion and enthusiasm, inspiring each sufferers and college. Understanding the important nature of the illness, he created a single postoperative intermediate care unit at BWH for Thoracic Surgical procedure sufferers to offer specialised intensive care, in addition to an extra 10-bed devoted Thoracic ICU. He designed individualized therapy applications in session with sufferers, whereas guaranteeing the households’ entry to help teams. Offering emotional help for the sufferers and their households is a vital a part of this system, as it’s critical to method therapy with the suitable perspective, and BWH continues to supply completely different applications to help sufferers and their households all through their journey.
Dr. Sugarbaker in the end constructed a one-of-a-kind surgical program at BWH that to today brings in sufferers from all around the globe who’ve been turned down for surgical procedure in different hospitals and gives them with a new-found hope. To many people right here on the IMP, he was an inspiration and we’re deeply dedicated to persevering with to push the boundaries in mesothelioma care and analysis. To honor his legacy, we hope to maintain his reminiscence alive via the annual David J. Sugarbaker, MD Lectureship, the place a number one nationwide or worldwide thoracic surgeon is invited every year because the Sugarbaker visiting lecturer to spend just a few days with the school and residents in addition to ship a grand rounds lecture at BWH.