David J. Sugarbaker, MD, had a clear vision for Adult Chest Surgery, a single all-inclusive volume containing all the concepts and procedures that constitute the thoracic surgery discipline—a text that residents, fellows, and practicing surgeons could use as a surgical blueprint for clinical procedures. It was important to him that surgeons of all levels of training would find it a useful resource to guide their planned surgical approaches. A pioneer of modern general thoracic surgery, David had many amazing qualities and insights that evolved into methods used to develop his program, the field, and this volume. These included a focus on multidisciplinary care for patients with thoracic cancers, a systems approach to patient care, the importance of surgical clinical trials, and the value of education and mentorship of students, residents, fellows, and colleagues. From a technical perspective, David developed and propagated simplified and easy-to-teach versions of complex operations including esophagectomy, lobectomy, and extrapleural pneumonectomy. He also assisted in the development of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), including some instrumentation and new techniques. He was a master surgeon who tackled the hardest cases with great success and was the address of last resort for many patients all over the world. He even started his own “school of thoracic surgery” in Boston and went on to populate the United States and the world with his disciples. He viewed the focus on excellent patient care as the most important quality of any physician or surgeon and continued to improve upon his own performance in every way possible. Those of us who had the privilege to work with him appreciated the tremendous enthusiasm, effort, and focus he put into everything he did. He supported his colleagues and students in all their endeavors and took pride in their successes, while letting them take the credit. I remember him saying to me, “Instead of telling your daughters how proud you are of their accomplishments, you should say to them, ‘You must be very proud of your success.’” We miss him.
Chief, Division of Thoracic Surgery
Co-Director, The Lung Center and the Lung Research Center
Vice Chairman of Surgery for Cancer and Translational Research
Fredric G. Levin Distinguished Chair in Thoracic Surgery and Lung Cancer Research
Brigham and Women’s Hospital