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New Clinician Spotlight: Caitlin Demarest

Oct. 14, 2021, 1:04 PM

Caitlin Demarest, MD, PhD

Caitlin Demarest, MD, PhD, recently joined the Department of Thoracic Surgery as an assistant professor, having been recruited to Vanderbilt by her mentor, Matthew Bacchetta, MD, MBA.

Demarest met Bacchetta, professor and chair of the Department of Thoracic Surgery, while doing her general surgery residency at Columbia University, New-York Presbyterian.

“When I began residency at Columbia in 2011, my first rotation was on thoracic surgery with Dr. Bacchetta. It was during this time that my love for thoracic surgery and lung transplantation was born. Over the ensuing 10- year journey, my love for thoracic surgery was explored, deepened, validated,” said Demarest.

“I pursued surgery because it encompasses several things I am passionate about — healing, problem solving and using my hands to accomplish these ends. To me, being a technically talented surgeon is undoubtedly important. However, having the opportunity to create therapies and devices that could affect a broader group of patients through inventiveness and forward visioning is tremendously motivating for me.”

Demarest earned her MD from New York Medical College, followed by her residency at Columbia and then a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at the University of Michigan. She then completed a surgical research fellowship and earned her PhD in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

The goal of Demarest’s doctoral research was to design and test an artificial lung that is capable of supporting patients with chronic lung disease for up to a few years as either a bridge to lung transplantation or destination therapy.

“My ultimate career goal has always been to be a thoracic surgeon at a major academic institution — one who is not only skilled in clinical practice and surgery, but also innovative with the ability to develop novel treatment therapies. I have found that opportunity — and more — at Vanderbilt. It is truly a dream job and it already feels like home.”

“Dr. Demarest distinguished herself from the first time she rotated on the Thoracic surgery service, demonstrating enormous potential as an academic surgeon” Bacchetta said. “She exhibited a curiosity and drive for understanding that differentiated her from her peers, and it is wonderful to have watched her grow into the outstanding clinician and researcher that she is today. I look forward to her continued success, and I couldn’t be happier that we were able to recruit her to VUMC.”

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