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Dr. David Harpole Jr

Dr. David Harpole Jr.

Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. David Harpole Jr. is a top thoracic surgeon at Duke Cancer Center in North Carolina. Mentored by renowned mesothelioma expert Dr. David Sugarbaker, Dr. David Harpole Jr. is now one of the world’s leading experts on surgery for pleural mesothelioma. Learn more about Dr. Harpole and get our help connecting with him today.

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About Dr. David Harpole Jr.

As one of the world’s top surgical oncologists, Dr. David H. Harpole Jr. is known throughout the medical community for the strong relationships he builds with his patients at Duke Cancer Center.

He has made significant contributions to lung cancer research, conducted more than 100 clinical studies to further the treatment options for various cancers, and has been published in numerous medical journals, book chapters, conferences, and academic publications.

“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.”
—Dr. David Harpole Jr., mesothelioma specialist

Career Highlights

The career of Dr. Harpole Jr. spans multiple decades.

Some of the highlights of his medical experience include:

  • Completing mesothelioma research with mentor Dr. David Sugarbaker
  • Educating the next generation of surgical oncologists at Duke University School of Medicine
  • Furthering the world’s understanding and treatment of cancer through hundreds of clinical trials and extensive research
  • Serving as director of Duke Lung Cancer Research Laboratory for more than 20 years
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Dr. Harpole Jr.’s Background

Dr. Harpole Jr. began his post-secondary education at Washington & Lee University, earning degrees in biology and chemistry. He started his medical training at the University of Virginia where he earned his medical degree, before completing an internship in general surgery at Duke University Medical Center, where he served as chief resident.

He continued his education with a fellowship in thoracic surgery at Duke University and was appointed as the school’s teaching scholar in thoracic surgery.

Dr. Harpole Jr. 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, he was mentored by the late Dr. David Sugarbaker, who, prior to his retirement, was one of the top mesothelioma doctors 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.

Upon completing his fellowship, Dr. Harpole Jr. was recruited by Harvard Medical School as an instructor of surgery. He complemented this work by serving as a thoracic surgery associate at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and as a thoracic surgeon at West Roxbury Veteran’s Medical Center.

Current Role at Duke University Cancer Center

In 1996, he joined the Duke University Cancer Center, quickly becoming an influential and integral leader of the institution’s research division. At Duke University Medical Center, Dr. Harpole Jr. served as Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs, Vice Chief of the Division of Surgical Sciences, and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Surgery.

Dr. Harpole Jr. currently works in multiple capacities at Duke University Medical Center, where he has served as the Director of the Duke Lung Cancer Research Laboratory and Biorepository for more than 20 years. His research focuses on the genomics of mesothelioma and other chest-related cancers.

The Duke Lung Cancer Research Laboratory and Biorepository has developed several FDA-approved drugs and has made notable advancements in cancer detection, diagnostics, and treatment.

Medical Specializations

Dr. Harpole Jr. is board-certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and the 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.

Get connected with specialized mesothelioma doctors like Dr. Harpole Jr. with our Free Doctor Match service.

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Career Accomplishments

Dr. Harpole Jr.’s accomplishments focus on the advancements of cancer research, expanding treatment options, and improving patient outcomes.

Awards & Honors

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

Professional Affiliations

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

In the study, Dr. Harpole Jr. and his team evaluated patients of various ages to determine how the outcomes varied for patients younger than 70 years old versus those over 70.

All the patients in their research had stage 1, 2, or 3 malignant pleural mesothelioma, and either had already undergone a related surgery or were prescribed a non-operative treatment plan.

The researchers noted that patients who underwent surgery had higher overall survival rates than those who did not, even in individuals over the age of 70.

However, 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.

In November 2022, he also co-authored a study on why U.S. veterans are at a higher risk of pleural mesothelioma. Notably, this study revealed that veterans with mesothelioma may have a unique phenotype (set of genetic cancer characteristics) when compared to civilians.

Get Connected With Dr. David Harpole Jr.

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

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important to seek out treatment administered by top specialists like Dr. David Harpole Jr.

Contact our Patient Advocates today to learn how to set up an appointment with a mesothelioma specialist and pay for treatments that may improve your prognosis.

Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. David Harpole Jr.. Any contact information listed is for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. David Harpole Jr. directly.

Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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  1. Duke Health. (n.d.). David H. Harpole Jr., MD. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from
  2. Duke University Office of the Provost. (n.d.). David Harpole. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from
  3. Duke University School of Surgery. David Harold Harpole. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from
  4. Harpole, D., et al. (2022, November 01). Title: Military Exposure-Related Pleural Mesothelioma: An Innovative Translational Approach to Inform Novel Molecular-Targeted Treatment Development.
    Retrieved May 22, 2024, from
  5. Yang, C. J., Yan, B. W., Meyerhoff, R. R., Saud, S. M., Gulack, B. C., Speicher, P. J., Hartwig, M. G., D’Amico, T. A., Harpole, D. H., & Berry, M. F. (2016). Impact of Age on Long-Term Outcomes of Surgery for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma. Clinical lung cancer, 17 (5), 419–426.
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