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Dr. David Sugarbaker

Dr. David J. Sugarbaker

In Loving Memory

Dr. David J. Sugarbaker was a mesothelioma specialist best known for developing the life-extending extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) surgery. He successfully treated thousands of pleural mesothelioma cases before his passing in 2018 at the age of 65. His work impacted the lives of countless patients, some of whom went on to survive 10 years or longer with mesothelioma.

Dr. David Sugarbaker: Remembering a Mesothelioma Treatment Pioneer

Dr. David Sugarbaker was one of the most influential mesothelioma doctors in the world. Many knew him as “Mr. Mesothelioma” for his in-depth knowledge of this rare and deadly cancer. He leaves an enduring legacy of medical innovations that are still used to treat mesothelioma and extend life expectancies.

“As I say to patients, ‘When hope is part of the equation, anything is possible.’ I remain optimistic that we can, in the next decade, put together the right combination of patients and treatments to effect a cure, which is our holy grail.”
– Dr. David Sugarbaker

Although Dr. Sugarbaker is no longer with us, we can help you find other top mesothelioma specialists to treat your cancer, many of whom were trained by Dr. Sugarbaker. Try our Free Doctor Match today.

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Dr. Sugarbaker’s Background

Along with his brother, Dr. Paul Sugarbaker, Dr. David Sugarbaker was one of five siblings to pursue a medical career. All were drawn to surgery at a young age, following in the footsteps of their surgeon father.

Upon graduating from Cornell University Medical School, Dr. Sugarbaker completed his residency at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where his 25 years of service immensely impacted the medical community. He also went on to complete a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Toronto General Hospital and a pediatric cardiac surgery residency at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

During his time at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Sugarbaker was recruited as chief of thoracic surgery — a brand new division at the time — which he successfully developed into one of the top cancer programs in the world.

In 1992, Dr. Sugarbaker established the country’s first general thoracic surgical residency track. He mentored close to 100 surgical residents who are now top doctors and have made their own notable contributions toward mesothelioma treatment research.

Dr. Sugarbaker helped train and mentor mesothelioma specialists such as:

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Dr. Sugarbaker’s Professional Experience

Dr. Sugarbaker founded the International Mesothelioma Program (IMP) in 2002, a world-class mesothelioma treatment and research program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The IMP was formed in response to increasing global rates of mesothelioma and is dedicated to developing new treatment options.

Dr. David Sugarbaker eventually stepped down from his role at Brigham and Women’s in 2014. He then served as the head of thoracic surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine Lung Institute in Houston, where he performed life-saving surgical procedures on mesothelioma patients and spearheaded the mesothelioma clinical research program.

With more than 35 years of professional experience, Dr. Sugarbaker has successfully treated thousands of patients with this rare form of cancer.

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Dr. Sugarbaker’s Specialized Knowledge Treating Mesothelioma

Dr. Sugarbaker dedicated his professional career to studying and treating mesothelioma.

The specialized knowledge he gained helped him understand this complex disease better than anyone else in the field. With this expertise, Dr. Sugarbaker developed and provided the best treatment plans to his patients, particularly stage 1 and 2 pleural mesothelioma patients.

One of his major accomplishments was developing the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP), a life-saving surgical procedure for pleural mesothelioma patients. Dr. Sugarbaker developed this procedure to increase patient survival rates and extend individual life expectancies drastically.

As a staple treatment plan provided to pleural mesothelioma patients, EPP has proven to be especially successful when performed in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Dr. Sugarbaker was also well known for developing a method to combine cytoreductive surgery with heated chemotherapy administered directly into the chest cavity of pleural mesothelioma patients.

As a professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and professor of surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Sugarbaker dedicated his life to sharing his years of expertise with the next generation of thoracic surgeons.

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Dr. David Sugarbaker’s Legacy

Dr. David Sugarbaker continually worked to develop better treatment procedures for future patients and spent his later years researching new drugs for malignant pleural mesothelioma.

“No one else in our lifetime had more impact on the field of thoracic surgery.”
–Joseph S. Coselli, M.D., FACS, on the late Dr. Sugarbaker

Through ongoing medical research, the team at the Mesothelioma Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas honors Dr. Sugarbaker’s legacy by working to improve curative surgical procedures and reduce mesothelioma recurrence.

Contact our Patient Advocates 24/7 to get help connecting with the team at Baylor College of Medicine and other leading mesothelioma specialists nationwide.

Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by Dr. David J. Sugarbaker. Any contact information listed is for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact Dr. David J. Sugarbaker 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. Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “What is mesothelioma?.” Retrieved from: Accessed on February 14, 2024.
  2. Coselli, JS. In Memoriam: David J. Sugarbaker, MD (1953–2018). Tex Heart Inst J. 2019 Feb 1;46(1):1–2. doi: 10.14503/THIJ-18-6879. PMCID: PMC6379011.
  3. International Mesothelioma Program. “Our Philosophy of Care.” Retrieved from: Accessed on February 14, 2024.
  4. Texas Medical Center. “David J Sugarbaker, M.D.” Retrieved from: Accessed on February 14, 2024.
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