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FG Pearson - RJ Ginsberg Chair in Thoracic Surgery

Griff Pearson
Griff Pearson

Shaf Keshavjee was recently appointed the first occupant of the Pearson-Ginsberg Chair in Thoracic Surgery. The chair celebrates the accomplishments of F. Griffith Pearson and Robert J. Ginsberg, former chairmen of the university Division of Thoracic Surgery. Griff Pearson developed thoracic surgery as a defined field of study. His creativity, surgical talent and clear thinking led to the development of a school of thoracic surgery that has populated thoracic surgery divisions throughout the world. His defining characteristic, in the words of Shaf Keshavjee, is "the courage to do things that hadn't been done before and make them work. When I went to my first international meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery as a resident, I was sitting among 2000 surgeons when I heard the moderator say from the podium, 'I wonder what Griff thinks about this? Griff, are you here?' That is when Griff Pearson's place in the world of thoracic surgery became clear to me. Not only is his name known to every thoracic surgeon, he always remembered everybody's name, even medical students who have been on his service."

Bob Ginsberg
Bob Ginsberg
Bob Ginsberg was an inspiring surgeon, bold and fearless in the quest of cure for thoracic cancers. Shaf describes his technical skill, clarity of thinking, organization and honesty in dealing with people as his defining characteristics. "He taught us all to respect the value of a multidisciplinary team, rather than focusing the treatment of cancer exclusively on the surgical component. He was instrumental in moving Princess Margaret Hospital to University Ave. - a lasting monument to his multidisciplinary vision. He organized his practice, his day, the Lung Cancer Study Group and especially his division at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute in New York City as a model of how to run a tightly organized program. Both Pearson and Ginsberg contributed to the leadership of Toronto in the specialty, winning worldwide respect." The chair recognizes the foundational significance of the thoracic specialty within surgery. Donors showed their humility and generosity, reflecting that of Pearson and Ginsberg, in their willingness to contribute to recognize someone else's name. Bob Ginsberg's schoolmate and friend Lionel Robins, former Chair of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation board, spearheaded the fundraising. David Ginsberg, Bob's son, was a significant donor, as were the members of the Division of Thoracic Surgery. The chair strengthens the academic activity of the division, allowing original research on innovative projects. It will make the position of Chairman of Thoracic Surgery attractive to outstanding candidates for years to come, enabling us to attract and keep top talent.

In addition to the Pearson-Ginsberg Chair, Shaf Keshavjee has won the Colin Woolf Award in recognition of his contributions to Continuing Medical Education. He believes that the education of fully-trained surgeons is as important as that of residents and fellows. "It's the 35th year of the Thoracic Surgery Refresher Course, so the credit is certainly not mine." Ten years ago the course was nearly cancelled under the press of other responsibilities among the faculty. Shaf rescued it and kept it going as the longest running and most respected course of its kind. The style of the conference is casual and friendly, with open discussion with audience members. It perpetuates the spontaneous culture of scholarship that Griff Pearson created and its attendees carry this back with them to their practice venues.

Shaf Keshavjee
Shaf Keshavjee
The Lister Award, the highest honour in our department for research, was also earned this year by Shaf. His deconstruction and remediation of ischemic lung injury is a stellar example of using the unique position of the surgeon scientist to take surgical problems to and from the laboratory to solve a clinical problem. "It has been a thrill to see two moments of great progress in lung preservation. When I entered the lab, cold, static immersion was the mode of preservation of donor lungs, bringing on the worst reperfusion injury imaginable." Shaf developed low-potassium dextran solution, (1) which has subsequently become the world standard for lung preservation. The technique was accepted by an imaginative faculty, including Joel Cooper Alec Patterson and Mel Goldberg. The more recently developed ex vivo lung perfusion technique allows assessment of function of the human lung outside the body and the possibility to apply reparative techniques to improve the function of lungs that would otherwise not be considered suitable for harvest. (2, 3) This work is the culmination of 15 years of collaborative work in the laboratory by previous research fellows: Andrew Pierre, Stephen Cassivi, Stefan Fischer, Jonathan Cardella, Narcelo Cypel and Jonathan Yeung and the scientific mentorship of Joel Cooper, Alec Patterson and Art Slutsky. Shaf learned relentless perseverance in research from Joel Cooper. "His tireless, indescribable energy and brilliant intellect sets an admirable example and certainly shaped my career." Alec Patterson, a technically superb, humanistic, and remarkably easy-going surgeon, was another role model. Art Slutsky was a scientific mentor for Shaf's MSc thesis and the development of his independent career as an investigator, teaching him how to navigate the complexities of academic life. Bryce Taylor, a very important mentor to Shaf and his wife Donna McRitchie, has been a supporter from medical school through the present day. Donna is the head of General Surgery and Critical Care at North York General Hospital and the Chair of the Medical Advisory Committee. Their daughter Sara is in grade six at Havergal College. Their dog Data is a retired guide dog and her constant companion. Shaf takes pride in the six-member team of thoracic surgeons at the University Health Network, all of whom are friends and highly-productive and respected leaders in the specialty. He is helping St. Joseph's Hospital and Toronto East General develop into level one thoracic centres.

M.M.

(1) Keshavjee SH, Yamazaki F, Cardoso P, McRitchie DI, Patterson GA, Cooper JD. A Method for Safe 12 Hour Pulmonary Preservation. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1989; 98:529-34.

(2) Cypel M, Yeung JC, Hirayama S, Rubacha M, Fischer S, Anraku M, Sato M, Harwood S, Pierre A, Waddell TK, de Perrot M, Liu M, Keshavjee S. Technique for prolonged normothermic ex vivo lung perfusion. J Heart Lung Transplant. 2008 Dec;27(12):1319-25

(3) Martins S, DePerrot M, Imai Y, Yamane M, Quadri SM, Segall L, Dutly A, Sakiyama S, Chaparro A, Davidson BL, Waddell TK, Liu M, Keshavjee S. Transbronchial administration of adenoviral mediated interleukin -10 gene to the donor improves function in a pig lung transplant model. Nature Gene Therapy 2004 Dec; 11(24):1786-96.




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