What does it take to be an influential surgeon in the 21st century? If you work with a surgeon, you might know what makes a certain individual stand out. The following list of surgeons contain individuals who have pioneered medical procedures, or they give lectures and/or they have become household names, thanks to television or the Internet. In all cases, they maintain a sphere of influence that is national or international, thanks to their work, their innovations and for the lives they have saved and will continue to save.
The following list represents just a handful of surgeons who have created impacts on society, and this list is pertinent to the 21st century. The individuals are listed in alphabetical order by surname.
- Dr. David Altchek has pioneered sports medicine while treating top professional athletes from around the country. He is an attending orthopaedic surgeon and co-chief in the Sports Medicine & Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery, professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical director for the New York Mets and a medical consultant for the NBA. He has won several awards for his work in one of the fastest-growing fields in orthopedics.
- Dr. James Andrews is an orthopedic surgeon who practices at the Andrews Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama. He also practices at the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Gulf Breeze, Florida. Andrews is known as the “most valuable doctor in sports,” and is considered one of the foremost surgeons in the United States for knee, elbow, and shoulder injuries.
- Dr. Leonard Bailey is Surgeon-In-Chief for the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital and is known internationally for placing the heart of a baboon into “Baby Fae’s” chest to save her from a severe heart defect. She lived 21 days, which was a vast improvement over the expected 2-10 day life expectancy. LLUCH’s 500th pediatric heart transplant was performed on 8 July 2009, just shy of 25 years from Dr. Bailey’s first heart transplant.
- Dr. Lance Becker has received numerous national awards and recognition for his work and leadership, and he is a newly recruited Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He was the founder and Director of the Emergency Resuscitation Center at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, an interdisciplinary team of investigators focused on understanding and treating sudden death from cardiac arrest and from traumatic injuries.
- Dr. Gerald Buckberg is a world-recognized pioneer in the development of life-saving heart surgery techniques. An author of more than 400 publications, he’s the 2007 recipient of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery Scientific Achievement Award. His research made it possible for surgeons to stop the heart, preserve heart tissue and restart the heart after complex surgery, as well as reconstruct the heart after major heart attacks where cardiac muscle is saved and recovers function.
- Dr. John C. Chiu is a pioneer in the field of minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS), and has lectured and performed spine surgeries throughout the world. He is the President of California Spine Institute Medical Center and the founding chairman of American Academy of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery and Medicine (AAMISMS). He serves as the Provost of the American International University and President, ISMISS/SICOT (International Society of Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery).
- Dr. Michael DeBakey (1908-2008) began his career when open-heart surgery didn’t exist and many cardiovascular problems were untreatable. He received numerous awards in the last ten years of his life, including the NASA Invention of the Year Award in 2001 for his DeBakey Ventricular Assist Device (VAD), a miniature device implanted into the heart to increase blood flow for those suffering from congestive heart failure.
- Dr. William C. DeVries implanted the first permanent artificial heart in Seattle dentist Barney Clark, and he’s now one of the oldest officers to graduate from the Army Medical Department Basic Officer course. He currently serves in the Division of Cardiac & Thoracic Surgery, Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
- Dr. Atul Gawande is a staff member of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the New Yorker magazine. In 2006, Dr. Gawande received the MacArthur Award for his research and writing topics in areas ranging from surgical technique, to US military care for the wounded, to error and performance in medicine. He also is the director of the World Health Organization’s Global Challenge for Safer Surgical Care.
- Dr. John D. Gearhart is a stem-cell research pioneer and a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Much of his research career focused on how genes regulate the formation of tissues and embryos. For the last 20 years he has attempted to determine the exact causes of mental retardation and other birth defects in Down’s Syndrome. He is an advocate for federal funding for further embryonic stem cell research.
- Dr. Sanjay Gupta may be the most recognized name on this list. As CNN chief medical correspondent and associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA, Dr. Gupta has used his medical expertise to raise awareness about health and wellness issues impacting people around the world. Children’s Law Center honored Dr. Gupta with the 2010 Distinguished Child Advocate Award at its Annual Helping Children Soar Benefit.
- Dr. Charles Koh was presented with the 2009 Distinguished Surgeon Award by the Society of Reproductive Surgeons (SRS), during the 65th Annual Meeting of the ASRM in Atlanta in recognition of his many contributions to the field of reproductive surgery. Dr. Koh specializes in advanced laparoscopic surgery and has created many innovations and techniques to further the field over the past three decades.
- Dr. Mehmet Oz is a cardiothoracic surgeon, author, television personality and the celebrity of the Dr. Oz Show. Time magazine ranked Oz 44th on its list of the 100 Most Influential People in 2008 and Esquire magazine placed him on its list of the 75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century. He also was listed in “Doctors of the Year” by Hippocrates magazine and in “Healers of the Millennium” by Healthy Living magazine.
- Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa is an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Oncology, Neuroscience and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Most recently, Dr. Quiñones was honored with a grant from the National Institute of Health for his work with stem cells and cancer. His awards include being named one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in 2008.
- Dr. Rubén A. Quintero pioneered the selective laser surgery technique to treat Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) and the staging classification of TTTS that is used worldwide. He is the director of the Fetal Therapy Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Women’s Hospital Center and the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
- Dr. David A. Silver is a pioneer in the application of robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgical techniques to Urologic procedures. He currently treats patients with urologic malignancies, including tumors of the adrenal glands, kidneys, bladder, prostate, and testicles, as well as tumors of the pelvis, retroperitoneum, and genitalia at Maimonides Medical Center in New York.