Dr. David Harpole Jr.

Dr. David Harpole Jr. is currently a Professor of Thoracic Surgery at Duke University Medical Center and has been the director of the Duke Lung Cancer Research Laboratory and Biorepository for more than 20 years. At the start of his career, Dr. Harpole Jr. was mentored by renowned mesothelioma expert Dr. David Sugarbaker and is now one of the world’s leading experts on mesothelioma treatment.

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Dr. Harpole Jr. is also known throughout the medical community for the strong relationships he builds with his patients.

Dr. Harpole Jr. has made significant contributions to lung cancer research, conducted more than 100 clinical studies to further the treatment options for various cancers, and is published in numerous medical journals, book chapters, conferences and academic publications. He is one of the world’s top surgical oncologists.

“One of the things that attracted me to this is the long-term relationships. I tell all my patients that really, I’m their doctor for life, and I see patients for many, many years,” said Dr. Harpole Jr.

Dr. Harpole Jr.’s Location

Mesothelioma patients interested in booking an appointment with Dr. Harpole Jr. can reach him at:

Duke Cancer Center

20 Duke Medicine Circle

Durham, NC 27710

(919) 668-8413

Dr. Harpole Jr.’s Career Highlights

Dr. Harpole Jr. has had an impactful career so far.

Some of the highlights of hid medical experience include:

  • Completed mesothelioma research with mentor Dr. David Sugarbaker
  • Furthered the world’s understanding and treatment of cancer through hundreds of clinical trials and extensive research
  • Director of Duke Lung Cancer Research Laboratory for more than 20 years
  • Teaches the next generation of surgical oncologists at Duke University, as a professor of Surgical Oncology and assistant professor of Pathology

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Dr. Harpole Jr.’s Background

Dr. Harpole Jr. began his post-secondary education at Washington & Lee University, degrees in biology and chemistry from Washington & Lee University. He started his medical training at the University of Virginia where he earned his MD, before completing an internship in general surgery at Duke University Medical Center, where he was Chief Resident. He continued his education with a fellowship in Thoracic Surgery at Duke and was appointed Teaching Scholar in Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. Harpole Jr. then completed a fellowship in thoracic oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, a leading research hospital affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. For three years, Dr. Harpole Jr. was mentored by Dr. David Sugarbaker, often considered the top mesothelioma surgeon in the country. Dr. Harpole Jr. and Dr. Sugarbaker co-authored five articles during this time and continued to work together on research that has resulted in another nine publications in the years since.

After completing his fellowship, Dr. Harpole Jr. was recruited by Harvard Medical School as an Instructor of Surgery. He complemented this work with an Associate in Thoracic Surgery position at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and as a thoracic surgeon at West Roxbury Veteran’s Medical Center. In 1996, he joined the Duke University Cancer Center, quickly becoming an influential and integral leader of Duke’s research division.

For the past 20 years, Dr. Harpole Jr. has directed the Duke Lung Cancer Research Laboratory, which strives to further understanding of the genomics of mesothelioma and lung cancer. Their goal is to figure out how and why these cancers spread, while simultaneously developing drug treatments that will eliminate their existence.

Dr. Harpole Jr. is also Vice Chief of the Division of Surgical Services and Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Durham VA Medical Center.

Medical Specializations

Dr. David Harpole Jr. is a board-certified surgeon by both the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and American Board of Surgery. He is renowned for his research on lung cancer and other thoracic conditions, including mesothelioma. This research often focuses on developing more effective treatments and diagnostic systems and has resulted in over a hundred publications.

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Dr. Harpole Jr.’s Career Accomplishments

Dr. Harpole Jr. has led an extraordinarily distinguished career that spans more than three decades. His accomplishments are best noted in the advancements he’s made towards cancer research, improving the treatment options and outcomes for his many patients over the decades. He has had the opportunity to work with many renowned oncologists and surgeons, including Dr. David Sugarbaker, and has made a name for himself within the medical community and beyond.

Awards & Honors

Dr. Harpole Jr. has won dozens of awards and honors throughout his career, including:

  • Director’s Distinguished Service Award
  • Patient Choice Award
  • Who’s Who in the World
  • International Who’s Who
  • America’s Top Doctors
  • America’s Top Cancer Doctors
  • International Health Professional of the Year
  • Guide to America’s Top Physicians
  • Maxwell’s Who’s Who of North America
  • Who’s Who in Medical Sciences Education
  • Guide to America’s Top Surgeons
  • J. Maxwell Chamberlain Memorial Paper
  • Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare
  • Cancer Doctors for Women
  • Outstanding Young Men of America
  • Who’s Who in North America
  • Finalist, Paul C. Sampson Resident Research Award
  • Raymond W. Postlethwait Fellow in Thoracic Surgical Research
  • Raven Honorary Society
  • National Science Foundation Research Scholar
  • Robert E. Lee Research Scholar
  • James P. Davidson Academic Scholarship
  • Finalist, Leibig Vascular Research Award

Dr. Harpole Jr.’s Current Work

Dr. Harpole Jr. currently works at Duke University Medical Center, where he has been director of the Duke Lung Cancer Research Laboratory and Biorepository for the past 20 years. Much of his work revolves around research into the genomics of mesothelioma and other lung cancers. The research lab has developed several FDA approved drugs and has made notable advancements in cancer detection, diagnostics, and treatment.

Dr. Harpole Jr.’s professional associations include:

  • Vice Chair – Faculty & Education, Duke University
  • Director – Lung Cancer Prognostic Research Laboratory
  • Co-chair – Thoracic Tumor Committee of the National Cancer Database
  • Co-chair – National Cancer Institute’s Thoracic Malignancy Steering Committee
  • Member – American Association for Thoracic Surgery
  • Member – Duke Gastrointestinal Malignancy Research Committee
  • Member – American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Vice-chairman – American College of Surgeons Oncology Group
  • Former Director – American Board of Thoracic Surgery

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Dr. Harpole Jr.’s Notable Work

Dr. David Harpole Jr. co-published “Impact of Age on Long-Term Outcomes of Surgery for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma,” a seven-page academic paper that was published in the September 2016 edition of Clinical Lung Cancer.

For this paper, Dr. Harpole Jr. and his team evaluated patients of various ages to determine how the outcomes varied for patients younger than 70 versus those over the age of 70. All the patients in their research had stage 1, 2 or 3 malignant pleural mesothelioma, and either had already undergone surgery for the cancer or were prescribed a non-operative treatment plan.

The research noted that individuals who underwent surgery had higher overall survival rates than those who didn’t, even in individuals over the age of 70, yet most individuals over the age of 70 were treated with non-operative methods. The research ultimately concluded that surgical treatment is more likely to improve survival lengths for all patients, regardless of age.

The findings of Dr. Harpole Jr.’s research further prove the necessity of surgical treatments as part of mesothelioma treatment plans.

Dr. Harpole Jr.’s Healing Philosophy

Dr. David Harpole Jr. believes the patient-doctor relationship is one that extends for decades and has worked with individual patients for many years. This continuity of care allows him to treat patients better with a deeper understanding of the personal needs, and develop treatment plans that will improve both the length and quality of their lives.

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