STS News, Fall 2022 — Douglas J. Mathisen, MD, is a giant in every sense of the word—a giant in his professional career as a master surgeon, a giant in education, and perhaps most significantly, a giant as a mentor and role model.
There are few practicing cardiothoracic surgeons today who have not been touched in a meaningful way by the powerful influence of Dr. Mathisen, said Douglas E. Wood, MD, from the University of Washington in Seattle, about his longtime friend and colleague.
“Dr. Mathisen is an incredible physical presence, easily found in a crowd, standing a head taller than everyone else. His hand engulfs one with a welcoming handshake accompanied by a warm smile,” said Dr. Wood. “The true measure of this giant is the enormous personal and professional respect that he holds from his peers for his integrity and generosity.”
During his long, remarkable career, Dr. Mathisen has authored more than 240 peer-reviewed publications, 160 book chapters, and five books. Perhaps his largest contribution, though, has been in pushing forward thoracic oncology and airway surgery. With world-renowned thoracic surgeon Hermes C. Grillo, MD, Dr. Mathisen helped set the surgical indications, techniques, and outcomes for tracheal and bronchial surgery that have served as the foundation for airway surgery.
Dr. Mathisen also has made broad contributions in thoracic oncology: lung cancer, esophageal cancer, chest wall tumors, thymoma, and mesothelioma. Notably, he and his team were involved in tissue engineering research, building toward the ultimate goal of tracheal replacement.
A Distinguished Career Recognized
In recognition of his dedication to the specialty and its future, Dr. Mathisen recently was honored with a fellowship award in his name—the TSF/STS Douglas Mathisen Traveling Fellowship in General Thoracic Surgery.
This fellowship highlights Dr. Mathisen’s commitment to refining the practice of cardiothoracic surgery, teaching innovative surgical skills, and advancing the careers of bright and motivated young surgeons, which is essential for the specialty to advance and thrive in the future.
The Mathisen Award will provide financial support for early career general thoracic surgeons from North America, and potentially Europe, to travel domestically or internationally to learn a new technique, adapt an innovative technology, and collaborate with surgical investigators to further the progress of general thoracic surgery at the recipients’ home institutions.
"The fellowship in Dr. Mathisen’s honor will be a lasting tribute to him by continuing his legacy as a champion of early career development and connecting colleagues from around the world,” said Dr. MacGillivray.
Applications for the Douglas Mathisen Traveling Fellowship are expected to open in July 2023. In the meantime, fundraising to build the fellowship fund is under way. For more information on donating to this award, visit thoracicsurgeryfoundation.org.