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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Establishes Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery

James D. Luketich, M.D., Named Founding Chair

PITTSBURGH, July 6, 2010 – The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recently established a Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery dedicated to using advanced diagnostic, surgical and medical techniques to treat diseases and disorders of the heart, lung and esophagus at a number of UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) tertiary care hospitals.

The department will expand upon the clinical, academic and research accomplishments of the Heart, Lung and Esophageal Surgery Institute (HLESI), which will remain within it. The department is made up of the Division of Thoracic and Foregut Surgery and the Division of Cardiac Surgery, which has sections in adult cardiac surgery, cardiothoracic transplantation and pediatric cardiothoracic surgery.

“Departments of cardiothoracic surgery are still novel in medical schools, with only 18 such academic departments in American institutions. This modest number reflects the recent and rapid evolution of cardiothoracic surgery as an independent discipline,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh. “While the department is new, its programs have long been pioneering: from the establishment of one of the first artificial heart programs in the country, to developing techniques for minimally invasive esophageal and lung cancer surgery, to having one of the most active cardiothoracic transplant programs in the world.”

James D. Luketich, M.D., Henry T. Bahnson Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, has been appointed the department’s founding chair.

“Heart, lung and esophageal disorders and diseases are among the most common causes of death in the United States. Through research, teaching and training, this department will emphasize the preoperative, operative and postoperative follow-up of patients with such conditions,” Dr. Luketich said.

Dr. Luketich’s areas of expertise focus on thoracic and esophageal surgery, including the management of gastroesophageal reflux disease, hiatal hernias, giant paraesophageal hernias and other disorders of the esophagus. He has particular expertise in the multi-disciplinary management of esophageal and gastroesophageal cancer, Barrett’s esophagus and lung cancer. He has been a pioneer in developing and performing numerous complex operations for esophageal and lung disorders using minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Prior to his appointment as department chair, Dr. Luketich served as director of HLESI and chief of the Division of Thoracic and Foregut Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Before joining UPMC in 1995, he was a senior instructor in surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He has held academic appointments and positions at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical College and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Luketich received his master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and his medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. He completed his surgical training and research at the University of Pennsylvania and his cardiothoracic and thoracic surgical training at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. 

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see

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