Phone: (617) 732-6824
Address: 75 Francis Street Boston, MA 02215

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David J. Sugarbaker, M.D., is the Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Sugarbaker is board certified in surgery and thoracic surgery, as well as having specific interests in congenital chest wall deformities, lung and pleural cancer, volume reduction emphysema surgery, video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and mesothelioma.

David J. Sugarbaker, MD, is the Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Sugarbaker is board certified in surgery and thoracic surgery and has specific interests in congenital chest wall deformities, lung and pleural cancer, volume reduction emphysema surgery, video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS), and mesothelioma.

Dr. Sugarbaker’s other appointments include Chief of Surgical Services at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Executive Vice-Chair of Department of Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgical Oncology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Sugarbaker’s rigorous clinical and laboratory research has led to developments in a trimodal treatment approach to malignant pleural mesothelioma. Dr. Sugarbaker has been widely credited with these developments, which may prove promising in the field of curative and palliative treatments for those diagnosed with mesothelioma. He is considered a renowned expert in the diagnosis and treatment of pleural malignant mesothelioma.

Educational Background

Dr. Sugarbaker received his undergraduate degree from Wheaton College, located in Illinois. He then went on to graduate from the Cornell University Medical College in 1979 and has completed several noteworthy residencies, including Senior Resident in Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Chief Resident in Cardiac Surgery at Toronto General Hospital, and Resident in Surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto.


Prior to his academic appointments and board certifications, Dr. Sugarbaker was involved in the following distinguished fellowships:

  • Research Fellow in Gastroenterology, The Charles A. Dana Research Institute and the Harvard Thorndyke Laboratory, Beth Israel Hospital & Harvard Medical School: 1982—1984
  • Arthur Tracey Cabot Fellow in Surgery, Assistant to the Chief of Surgery, Chief Resident Surgeon, Brigham and Women’s Hospital: 1985—1986


Currently, Dr. Sugarbaker is one of the leading U.S. mesothelioma physicians, being largely credited with developing specific surgical techniques for mesothelioma resection. Dr. Sugarbaker is also credited with recognizing the importance of using a multimodality approach to mesothelioma treatment that combines surgery with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Dr. Sugarbaker’s specific trimodal therapeutic approach is based on a three-pronged system, which includes the following:

Extrapleural pneumonectomy–a serious surgical procedure that involves the dissection of the tumor and parietal pleura from the chest wall, diaphragm, and mediastinum. It can also include lymph node dissection and en bloc resection of the lung, pleura, pericardium, and diaphragm. This type of surgical procedure is complex and requires that patients exhibit overall good health to be considered a candidate for surgery. The disease should be limited to just one pleural surface, and an indication of favorable liver and cardiac function should be present.

Adjuvant Chemotherapy–this form of chemotherapy is used post-surgically with the purpose of destroying any remaining cancer cells and, hopefully, preventing the cancer from recurring.

Radiation–involves external beam radiation as a means of killing remaining cancer cells after surgery.

The results of Dr. Sugarbaker’s approach have revealed overall improved survival rates among mesothelioma patients and illuminated new prognostic variables for the disease. Furthermore, these results have led to the formation of the new staging system for mesothelioma that is currently in use.

Additional Work and Distinctions

Dr. Sugarbaker is the Chair of the Surgery Committee of the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, which allows him to be involved in a leadership role for developing clinical investigation concerning the role of surgery in cancer therapy trials. His efforts have aided in the clinical investigation of new therapies in thoracic, GI, and breast malignancies. He has also helped to develop new minimally invasive thoracic surgery techniques. Dr. Sugarbaker also serves as the codirector and operations chair for the Brigham Women’s Hospital Tissue and Blood Repository, which acts as an institutional core facility for the procurement and distribution of specimens.

Dr. Sugarbaker is the founder of the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) which includes both clinical and research aspects to focus on developing treatment plans aimed at extending the life of mesothelioma patients. Dr. Sugarbaker and his colleagues form a multidisciplinary team of physicians, specialists, nurses, pathologists, clinical researchers, and medical and social science experts in the hopes of offering potentially curative therapies for mesothelioma. His work with the IMP and with the Brigham Women’s Hospital has afforded him the opportunity to deliver lectures worldwide on the topic of mesothelioma treatments, including his personal research and clinical trials.

Additionally, Dr. Sugarbaker has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal for his case studies concerning a comprehensive look at the correlation between mesothelioma patient’s tumors and gene mutation. This division of Dr. Sugarbaker’s work suggests that specific genes mutations within tumors could be casually related to cancer development. This study stressed the importance of customizing patient treatment plans with specifically tailored drug options and chemotherapies.

Dr. Sugarbaker has been named one of America’s Top Doctors by Castle Connolly in 2002 through 2009 and has been listed in Castle Connolly’s other distinction, America’s Top Doctors for Cancer, for 2005 through 2007.



Dr. Sugarbaker, as the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School has been involved in several publications and journal articles concerning various aspects of mesothelioma research and clinical trials. A sample of the over 200 papers published by Dr. Sugarbaker et al. include:

– Gill RR, Umeoka S, Mamata H, Tilleman TR, Stanwell P, Woodhams R, Padera RF, Sugarbaker DJ, Hatabu H. Diffusion-weighted MRI of malignant pleural mesothelioma: preliminary assessment of apparent diffusion coefficient in histologic subtypes. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2010 Aug; 195(2):W125-30.
– Mujoomdar AA, Tilleman TR, Richards WG, Bueno R, Sugarbaker DJ. Prevalence of in vitro chemotherapeutic drug resistance in primary malignant pleural mesothelioma: result in a cohort of 203 resection specimens. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2010 Aug; 140(2):352-5.
– Christensen BC, Houseman EA, Poage GM, Godleski JJ, Bueno R, Sugarbaker DJ, Wiencke JK, Nelson HH, Marsit CJ, Kelsey KT. Integrated profiling reveals a global correlation between epigenetic and genetic alterations in mesothelioma. Cancer Res. 2010 Jul 15; 70(14):5686-94.
– Sugarbaker DJ, Wolf AS. Surgery for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Expert Rev Respir Med. 2010 Jun; 4(3):363-72.
– Bueno R, De Rienzo A, Dong L, Gordon GJ, Hercus CF, Richards WG, Jensen RV, Anwar A, Maulik G, Chirieac LR, Ho KF, Taillon BE, Turcotte CL, Hercus RG, Gullans SR, Sugarbaker DJ. Second generation sequencing of the mesothelioma tumor genome. PLoS One. 2010; 5(5):e10612.
– Richards WG, Godleski JJ, Yeap BY, Corson JM, Chirieac LR, Zellos L, Mujoomdar A, Jaklitsch MT, Bueno R, Sugarbaker DJ. Proposed adjustments to pathologic staging of epithelial malignant pleural mesothelioma based on analysis of 354 cases. Cancer. 2010 Mar 15; 116(6):1510-7.
– Tilleman TR, Richards WG, Zellos L, Johnson BE, Jaklitsch MT, Mueller J, Yeap BY, Mujoomdar AA, Ducko CT, Bueno R, Sugarbaker DJ. Extrapleural pneumonectomy followed by intracavitary intraoperative hyperthermic cisplatin with pharmacologic cytoprotection for treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma: a phase II prospective study. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2009 Aug; 138(2):405-11.
– Gordon GJ, Dong L, Yeap BY, Richards WG, Glickman JN, Edenfield H, Mani M, Colquitt R, Maulik G, Van Oss B, Sugarbaker DJ, Bueno R. Four-gene expression ratio test for survival in patients undergoing surgery for mesothelioma. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 May 6; 101(9):678-86.
– Hartman ML, Esposito JM, Yeap BY, Sugarbaker DJ. Combined treatment with cisplatin and sirolimus to enhance cell death in human mesothelioma. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2010 May; 139(5):1233-40.
– Christensen BC, Marsit CJ, Houseman EA, Godleski JJ, Longacker JL, Zheng S, Yeh RF, Wrensch MR, Wiemels JL, Karagas MR, Bueno R, Sugarbaker DJ, Nelson HH, Wiencke JK, Kelsey KT. Differentiation of lung adenocarcinoma, pleural mesothelioma, and nonmalignant pulmonary tissues using DNA methylation profiles. Cancer Res. 2009 Aug 1; 69(15):6315-21.

Contact Information

David J. Sugarbaker, M.D.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02215
Office Phone: (617) 732-6824
Appointment Phone: (617) 732-6824
Fax: (617) 566-3441
E-mail: [email protected]

  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Department of Thoracic Surgery. Boston, MA.
  • Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Department of Thoracic Surgery/Thoracic Oncology
  • Dr. David J. Sugarbaker. Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery. Harvard Medical School. Boston, MA
  • Winstein, Keith. “Study: More Complexity in Tailoring Cancer Drugs.” Wall Street Journal 26 Feb. 2008: B1. Online.
  • International Mesothelioma Program

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