During his over 20 years of dedicated service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, David John Sugarbaker, MD, left behind a legacy with significant contributions to patient care, research and teaching. We hope to keep his memory alive by fully endowing the David John Sugarbaker, MD Lectureship, where a national or international thoracic surgeon would be invited as a visiting lecturer each year to do a Grand Rounds presentation and spend a few days with our faculty and staff.
David, founder of the International Mesothelioma Program at BWH, made major developments in mesothelioma treatment that included extra-pleural pneumonectomy and developed intra-operative heated chemotherapy to bathe the inside of the chest for an hour at the time of operation. His surgical innovations at BWH helped lower the operative mortality rate, extended the lives of many patients, and moved the mesothelioma community closer to finding a cure. David was dubbed “Dr. Mesothelioma,” as he was considered one of the most forefront experts in Mesothelioma.
Unfettered by traditional approaches to advanced cancers, David developed new operative teams with innovative methods, created several unique instruments for the operating room, including a clamp to remove lung nodules, a device to facilitate lung volume reduction surgery, and established a minimally invasive surgical technique used for diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions in the chest. He also fostered the practice of using intraoperative CT scans in the operating room to locate microscopic lung nodules. His clinical expertise and advances made BWH’s mesothelioma program the last resort for patients and their families who had otherwise lost hope.
David’s legacy lives on at BWH through the hundreds of physicians he mentored and trained. Under the direction of Raphael Bueno, MD, current Division Chief of Thoracic Surgery, BWH’s Division of Thoracic Surgery remains one of the best in world, with the International Mesothelioma Program being the largest program of its kind.