UW News

May 6, 2010

19th Annual Visiting Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery is cancer specialist Dr. Valerie Rusch of Sloan-Kettering

UW Health Sciences/UW Medicine

Dr. Valerie W. Rusch, chief of thoracic surgery and the Miner Family Chair in Intrathoracic Cancers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, will be the 19th Annual Visiting Professor in Cardiothoracic Surgery. She will be at the UW Health Sciences Center on Friday, May 14.

During her visit, Rusch will conduct a morning teaching rounds with residents and will attend research presentations with UW cardiothoracic faculty, research fellows and guest faculty.

She will speak on “Creating the 21st Century Thoracic Surgeon” from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Room K-069, UW HSC. A reception will follow the lecture.

Rusch did her residency training in general surgery and in cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Washington from 1975 to 1982. She is now an internationally recognized surgeon whose specialty is treating patients with cancer of the lung, esophagus, mediastinum (the region between the lungs), the chest wall, and the pleura (the thin covering that cushions the lungs).

Her particular areas of clinical and research expertise are lung cancer genetics and mesothelioma, a condition that results from asbestos exposure. Rusch is looking for ways to predict how a patient will fare with treatment. She is also working on developing methods to detect thoracic cancers at an earlier stage and new therapeutic targets for specific types of lung cancer.

In addition, she is a national leader in clinical trials for the treatment of thoracic malignancies. In 2007 she received the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education Socrates Award. She has co-authored 260 papers and more than 60 book chapters and invited texts. Throughout her career, she has received numerous teaching and patient-care excellence awards as well.

She recently served as chair of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and is currently chair of the Workforce on Critical Care of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons and a member of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons. She has given nearly 300 major lectures on thoracic cancers at medical conferences around the world, as well as held 25 visiting professorships and lectureships.

Rusch was born in New York City. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in biochemistry, then earned her M.D. degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. fter completing residency training at the UW, she became a faculty associate at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. From 1983 to 1985, she was an assistant member of the Division of Clinical Research at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and served on the faculty of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery in the UW Department of Surgery. She joined the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Research Center in 1989, and became a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York in 1995.

Rusch’s May 14 visit to the UW is partially funded through an educational grant from St. Jude Medical.

For additional information on Rusch’s visit, please contact the UW Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at 206-543-3093.