November 30, 2022

Section of Surgical Sciences professional biography for R. Daniel Beauchamp, MD

Section of Surgical Sciences professional biography for R. Daniel Beauchamp, MD

R. Daniel Beauchamp, M.D., the John Clinton Foshee Distinguished Professor of Surgery and Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences (2001-18), and Surgeon-in-Chief at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) (2001-18), died on November 27, 2022. He was 66.

A native of Texas, Dr. Beauchamp completed his undergraduate education at Texas Tech University in Lubbock in 1978. He earned his medical degree in 1982 and completed his general surgery residency in 1987, both at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Following residency, he trained under Harold L. Moses, M.D. in the Department of Cell Biology at Vanderbilt University where he began to study mechanisms of tumorigenesis, a field to which he would make important contributions for 35 years. Dr. Beauchamp returned to UTMB as Assistant Professor in Surgery and was recruited back to Vanderbilt in 1994 to join the Department of Surgery as the first Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery. In 1997, he was named the John L. Sawyers, M.D. Professor of Surgery. From 1999-2001, he served as the Director of Surgical Research in the Section of Surgical Sciences. In 2001, he was named the Foshee Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Surgeon-in-Chief at Vanderbilt University Hospital, and Chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences.

Over his 17-year tenure as Chair, the Section of Surgical Sciences dramatically expanded its clinical, research and educational accomplishments. Under his guidance, support, and leadership, the faculty grew from 86 to 159, the clinical services grew rapidly, and the transplant and trauma programs became among the busiest in the country. Advanced techniques were developed across a range of clinical specialties including fetal and pediatric, vascular and endovascular, oncologic, cardiac, thoracic, urologic, plastic, oral and maxillofacial, and general surgery. The Section supported a meaningful presence and leadership in global surgery. In the research arena, Dr. Beauchamp supported work in basic science and translational science, clinical trials, and important investigations in patient-reported outcomes. This led to the Section achieving distinction as one of the top ten in surgery for funding from the National Institutes of Health. Over this time, the residency increased from 106 to 137 trainees, and became one of the most sought after in the United States with its residents going on to important careers in academic surgery.

At VUMC, Dr. Beauchamp’s clinical practice focused on surgical oncology, including gastrointestinal tract cancers, breast cancer, melanoma, and soft tissue sarcoma. In 2008, with increasing leadership and scientific roles both locally and nationally, he narrowed his practice to the care of breast cancer patients.

One of the finest surgeon-scientists of his generation, Dr. Beauchamp’s laboratory received continuous NIH funding for over 25 years. His primary area of research was colorectal carcinogenesis, the biology of cancer cell invasion and metastasis, and the identification of novel molecular biomarkers and therapeutic targets in colorectal and other alimentary tract malignancies. His work applied DNA microarray and proteomic technology to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets in human colorectal cancer. He used molecular genetics and cell biological approaches to examine mechanistic questions in cancer biology in both cell culture and mouse models. Dr. Beauchamp authored over 160 peer-reviewed publications, numerous book chapters and reviews, and presented his work across the world. He achievements were recognized by his election to the National Academy of Medicine, American Society for Clinical Investigation, and as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. In 2015, he received the prestigious Flance-Karl Award for Scientific Achievement from the American Surgical Association. He continued to be productive even very recently, with an important publication identifying the role of SMAD4 in colitis-associated carcinoma.

Both locally and nationally, a significant aspect of Dr. Beauchamp’s legacy will be the importance of the development of surgeon-scientists, for which he was an archetype. He trained and mentored dozens of residents and over 55 research fellows and students. Many have gone on to significant research careers. He imbued the Surgical Services at Vanderbilt with an understanding of the necessity of surgeons performing research and supported this with great energy and personal commitment.

Dr. Beauchamp provided essential service and leadership to national surgical and scientific organizations. He was a member of the Society of University Surgeons, where he served as President-Elect (1998-99) and President (1999-2000) and on the Executive Council for 10 years. He was a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Society for Surgical Oncology, the Association for Academic Surgeons, the Southern Surgical Association, the American Surgical Association, the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Gastroenterology Association, the Halsted Society, the Surgical Biology Club, and the American Society for Cell Biology. He served on the NIH GMA2 and GCMB Study Sections as a regular member and was a member of the NIH CSR College of Reviewers.

Dr. Beauchamp performed editorial service for a number of high impact surgical publications, including as Associate Editor for the Sabiston Textbook of Surgery, 16th-21st editions, and served on the Editorial Boards of Surgery, the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, the Journal of Surgical Research, the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, the American Journal of Surgery, Contemporary Surgery, and the Annals of Surgical Oncology.

At the local level, Dr. Beauchamp was an indefatigable and respected voice. His major roles in the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center included Deputy Director (2011-19), Co-Director of the GI oncology program (2014-22), and Director of the GI SPORE development research program (2017-22). He served on numerous institutional committees including the Perioperative Enterprise Committee, Perioperative Executive Committee, VICC Executive Committee, Vanderbilt Medical Group Executive Committee, Medical School Executive Committee, Clinical Enterprise Group, and Surgical Critical Care Steering Committee. He served as President of the Nashville Surgical Society (2004-05) and in leadership roles with the Tennessee Chapter of The American College of Surgeons including Vice President (2013-14), President-Elect (2014) and President (2014-15).

At his core, Dr. Beauchamp was a kind-hearted, compassionate, and deeply committed soul and the consummate academic surgeon. He demonstrated tireless commitment and achieved seminal contributions to academic surgery and each of its missions. He made everyone around him better and developed a culture of excellence in multiple domains that will endure.

Dr. Beauchamp is survived by his wife, Shannon; his daughter, Bryn Beauchamp (Brian Gibson); his father, Joe “Bud” Beauchamp; and his brother, Joe Beauchamp. He is preceded in death by his mother, Georgia Lee Holland.