September 26, 2003

Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery to split

Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery to split

By Jan. 1, 2004, the department of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery will split to form separate departments of cardiac surgery and thoracic surgery, pending Board of Trust approval.

The restructuring lays groundwork for growth in research and patient care, and will aid further enrichment of undergraduate and graduate surgical education, said Dr. R. Daniel Beauchamp, J.C. Foshee Distinguished Professor and chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences.

Beauchamp made the formal announcement of the restructuring Wednesday at a meeting of the Executive Faculty of the School of Medicine.

Beauchamp noted that similar restructuring has met with success at such leading academic centers as Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the University of Michigan. It turns out that the restructuring also helps facilitate a vital recruitment need at Vanderbilt. “In order to get the best possible person to head our program in thoracic surgery, it was necessary to provide the position greater autonomy and responsibility,” Beauchamp said.

Heading the new department of Thoracic Surgery will be Dr. Joe B. Putnam, Jr., recruited from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he is vice-chairman of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

“Dr. Putnam’s appointment is the result of a national search that turned up numerous highly qualified applicants,” Beauchamp said. “This appointment will serve a range of strategic goals, from growing patient volume and enhancing case mix, to bolstering clinical and translational research and collaboration with the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s Specialized Program of Research Excellence in lung cancer.” Putnam is due to assume his new post by Jan. 1.

A search is underway for a chairman for the new department of Cardiac Surgery. Dr. Davis C. Drinkwater, Jr., currently chairman of the department of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, will assume the role of chief of the division of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery.

Beauchamp said the restructuring is a prelude to further faculty recruitment in both departments. Expansion of clinical space for the two practice groups is in the works. For the foreseeable future, both departments will remain part of the Cardiac Patient Care Center.