October 14, 2020

Bacchetta named associate chair of Thoracic Surgery

Matthew Bacchetta, MD, MBA, MA, associate professor of Thoracic Surgery, has been named associate chair of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Department of Thoracic Surgery, effective Sept. 1.


by Jill Clendening

Matthew Bacchetta, MD, MBA, MA, associate professor of Thoracic Surgery, has been named associate chair of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Department of Thoracic Surgery, effective Sept. 1.

Matthew Bacchetta, MD, MBA, MA

Bacchetta, an internationally renowned National Institutes of Health-funded investigator, joined the department in 2018. He was recruited to help expand both the pulmonary surgery program and the department’s research. He will also serve as medical director of a new respiratory institute at VUMC that will be launched soon.

Bacchetta’s research involves developing platforms for organ recovery, regeneration and replacement. Of note, he has been instrumental in developing a new technique called ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) that has the potential to increase the supply of donor lungs by rehabilitating organs previously considered too damaged for transplant. The first lung transplant using EVLP at VUMC was performed by Bacchetta in June. VUMC is one of the few medical centers in the United States that offer EVLP, and Vanderbilt is part of a clinical trial studying a more expanded use of the technique.

“The addition of the EVLP procedure is just one example of the truly transformational and lifesaving contributions Matt has made at the Medical Center since joining the department two years ago,” said Seth Karp, MD, H. William Scott Jr. Professor and chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences and director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center. “He has significantly expanded the breadth of our clinical innovations including our ECMO program in association with our colleagues from anesthesia, as well as our research enterprise. With his unique skillset and knowledge, he has enhanced an outstanding and expertly run department.

“Dr. Jon Nesbitt, who has chaired Thoracic Surgery during the past four years of growth, is one of those exceptional leaders. He plans to step back from administration but continue to be active clinically in 2021.”

In addition to being an accomplished transplant surgeon, Bacchetta’s clinical work focuses on end-stage lung and pulmonary vascular diseases, and he has particular expertise in the use of mechanical devices for patients with both acute and chronic respiratory illness. He holds patents and has patents under review for several therapeutic devices.

“I want to express my appreciation to Dr. Nesbitt for his outstanding leadership over these past four years and congratulate and welcome Dr. Bacchetta into this new role. Matt’s contributions are helping transform lung transplantation here and throughout the nation. His broad and varied career before joining VUMC has provided a unique skillset that will help him propel Thoracic Surgery forward,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC.

Bacchetta’s career spans a variety of associated fields, from engineering and business to medical ethics and transplant surgery. Before coming to VUMC, he served as the director of Adult ECMO, surgical director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Comprehensive Care Center, and director of the Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy Program at Columbia University Medical Center. During that time, he was also co-director of the Center for Acute Respiratory Failure at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

After graduating from Duke University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, Bacchetta grew his engineering career to the point of building and running a manufacturing plant. Along the way, he earned a master’s in business administration from the University of Virginia. Although he was on track for a corporate leadership role, he chose to change course. He first fulfilled a lifelong interest in philosophy by studying medical ethics and receiving a master’s degree from the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at the University of Virginia. Then, he earned his medical degree at Cornell University Medical College in New York. Bacchetta is also a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has served tours of duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.

He is board certified in Surgery and Thoracic Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is also a member of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Bacchetta was recently inducted to the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions awarded to a medical and biological engineer. Bacchetta was recognized for his “seminal contributions to the fields of organ transplantation and organ regeneration and engineering.”

“I am honored by this opportunity to continue to build on the Department of Thoracic Surgery’s strong foundation established by Jon Nesbitt and other leaders,” said Bacchetta. “It is also our aim to build a world-class respiratory institute at VUMC, and we are well on our way to achieving that goal. I look forward to working with our team to continue to grow our clinical, research and educational programs as we lead advances in thoracic medicine to save lives and improve the quality of daily living for our patients.”

Nesbitt has been in the practice of thoracic surgery since 1989 and is a well-known leader in the field. He has broad experience in the management of thoracic diseases including lung cancer, esophageal cancer, minimally invasive surgery, diseases of the mediastinum, airway tumors, airway stents, chest wall tumors and pleural diseases.

Nesbitt also has extensive experience in resection of complex thoracic tumors including locally advanced cancers, reoperative surgery and multi-modality therapy. His research has focused on the evaluation of multidisciplinary treatment for thoracic malignancies.