Inspiration Found at 6th Annual Dr. James B.D. Mark Family Visiting Professor Lecture

by Lynn Nichols
January 12, 2024

Once again, the annual Dr. James B.D. Mark Family Visiting Professor Lecture attracted a nationally-respected guest who inspired a crowd of colleagues, fellows, and residents with the latest advances in thoracic surgery. This year marked the sixth annual occurrence of the event, which is a part of the Stanford Department of Cardiothoracic Visiting Professors and Lecture Series, started in 2008. 

The event began with a riveting lecture by Thomas D’Amico, MD, titled, “The Challenge of Innovation.” His talk drew from his experience as Chief of General Thoracic Surgery and Director of the Thoracic Oncology Program at the Duke Cancer Institute and his special interests in esophageal cancer and lung cancer surgeries, with a focus on minimally invasive thoracic surgery.

Thomas D’Amico, MD, giving lecture titled, “The Challenge of Innovation” at 6th Annual Dr. James B.D. Mark Family Visiting Professor Lecture 

Dr. D’Amico spoke about the latest research and clinical breakthroughs practiced at Duke Cancer Institute - innovations that have sprung from the clinical and research programs for lung and esophageal cancer that he supervises. D’Amico has spent his career at Duke. After completing his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University, he earned his medical degree at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University. From there, he completed his training in general surgery and thoracic surgery at Duke University Medical Center and his fellowship in thoracic surgical oncology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He joined the faculty in 1996. 

“Dr. D’Amico is world famous for being the primary developer and most prolific worldwide teacher of video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy (VATS lobectomy),” says Joseph Shrager, MD, chief of Thoracic Surgery Division and co-director of the Thoracic Oncology Clinical Care Program at Stanford Medicine. “He is also the main individual who established the evidence-based science, proving that this operation was indeed a major advance.”

His talk inspired the department’s thoracic surgeons, fellows, and residents who attended the event. Many walked away with new enthusiasm for their own research efforts in thoracic surgery.

“It was a fantastic talk from visiting professor Thomas D’Amico on how to be a surgical innovator,” says Leah Backhus, MD, MPH, FACS, the Thelma and Henry Doelger Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery.

The event honored the celebrated work of James B.D. Mark, MD, a remarkable Stanford Medicine physician and professor who dedicated his life to furthering the field of thoracic surgery. 

Drs. John Lamberti and Leah Backhus

Dr. Mark was the founding head of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Stanford University in 1972, a position he held until he assumed emeritus status in 1996.

Dr. Mark’s career highlights include acting as the first chairman of the Department of Surgery at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, receiving the Johnson & Johnson Endowed Professorship in 1978, holding the position of associate dean on two occasions, acting as the chair of the Department of Surgery, and becoming the chief of staff of Stanford University hospital from 1988 to 1992. He was a Senior Fulbright-Hays Fellow and Visiting Professor of Surgery at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, during medical training and education.

The morning lecture was followed by professor rounds, where he was presented a variety of clinical cases and research presentations on Stanford projects, exploring and discussing them with residents and faculty. After the presentations, he had a luncheon with residents, who were able to ask him about his work, life, academia, and achievements. Dr. D’Amico then met individually with faculty before they all regrouped for a wonderful dinner in downtown Palo Alto. The event was held on Friday, November 17 on the Stanford campus.

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