sutures newsletter


Thoracic Surgery: a Focus on Education and Community Outreach

In keeping with the mission statement of Cedars-Sinai, the Division of Thoracic Surgery is committed to education and community outreach. The division has been at the forefront of thoracic surgery, with education and training of current and future surgeons being one of the major components of the mission of the division. Robert J. McKenna Jr., MD, Harmik J. Soukiasian, MD, and Heather Merry, MD, have published a combined two books and more than 400 articles and chapters.

Having developed minimally invasive surgery for lung cancer, they share their knowledge with 15 courses in video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery per year at Cedars-Sinai and trips to four or five countries per year to operate and lecture. Almost every day, McKenna and his team host visiting professors and surgeons from around the world to demonstrate leading-edge surgical techniques. Each year, several foreign surgeons do extended observational shadowing externships.

The commitment to education extends to residents and fellows in training as well. Soukiasian and McKenna created a general thoracic educational course for cardio-thoracic residents to supplement their training programs. This unique course offers didactic lectures relevant to current topics in thoracic surgery, hands-on surgical techniques tissue laboratory and observation of surgical procedures with leaders in thoracic surgery.

In additional to the Cedars-Sinai faculty, the faculty includes Daniel Miller, MD, chief of thoracic surgery at Emory University, and Scott Swanson, MD, chief of minimally invasive thoracic surgery at Harvard Brigham and Women's Hospital. The success and popularity with residents and fellows led to offering the course twice per year.

Community outreach is also quite important to the division of thoracic surgery. Our newest partner, Heather Merry, MD, is expanding the respiratory failure program through lectures on shortness of breath, emphysema and lung transplantation to both practicing physicians in the community and patients in pulmonary rehabilitation programs and better-breather clubs.

This year, we will host the 12th annual lung cancer survivors day, during which faculty from different specialties at Cedars-Sinai deliver educational lectures. Additionally, Soukiasian, Mark Pimentel, MD, director of GI Motility, and Christopher Chang, MD, PhD, also from the GI Motility service, established an educational seminar for patients and the community on reflux, Barrett's, irritable bowel syndrome and small bowel intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

McKenna and his team continue to develop and improve the thoracic division to maintain the division's world-renowned reputation as a leader in thoracic surgery.