The Division of Thoracic Surgery is a recognized leader in minimal access thoracic surgical procedures, inclusive of pulmonary, mediastinal and esophageal resections.
Under the leadership of Dr. Ken Stewart, associate professor and co-lead of the Alberta Thoracic Oncology Program, members of the division continue to support efforts to improve the clinical path for patients in Northern Alberta with thoracic malignancies. Dr. Stewart’s vision and leadership led to the creation of the Alberta Thoracic Oncology Program (ATOP).
The first of its kind in Canada, ATOP transformed existing lung cancer care services to one that provides patients with timely, coordinated and streamlined access to multidisciplinary treatment. Expansion of the ATOP diagnostic imaging direct notification process to all major centres in Northern Alberta, has led to significant reductions in wait times for patients with potential lung cancers to be assessed by caregivers in Edmonton.
In collaboration with the Division of Cardiac Surgery, Dr. Bryce Laing continues to be an active member of Canada’s second-largest lung transplant program.
Teaching remains a priority for the Division of Thoracic Surgery. Despite its small size, the division contributes to the education of both students and residents with all members participating in discovery learning and/or didactic teaching sessions. Dr. Eric Bédard also continues as a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Thoracic Surgery Specialty and Examination Committees. Members of the division have been recognized for their quality of teaching by the following awards: Dr. Azim Valji was awarded with the MSA Discovery Learning Preceptor Excellence Award and Dr. Ken Stewart was awarded both the Dr. William A. Shandro Award for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Surgery, as well as, the Drew Sutherland Award for Teaching Excellence.
Dr. Eric Bédard continues to lead both clinical and translational research efforts. In 2017, the Alberta Lung Cancer Program Study (Dr. Bédard, local PI) achieved its target enrollment of 800 participants that will continue to be followed over the coming years.
Dr. Bédard, in collaboration with a multidisciplinary group worked to establish a remote fellowship research collaboration with the city of Kunming, China. This group is examining the potential for a blood-based, non-invasive test for lung cancer and hopes to validate encouraging early findings through a large-scale clinical study to take place in China.
Other Areas of Leadership
The division remains active in administrative roles at many levels, inclusive of the University of Alberta, Royal College and others. Dr. Scott Johnson continues as President of the Section of Thoracic Surgery at the level of the Alberta Medical Association. By embracing innovation, and working with a collaborative spirit, the division has evolved to become a significant contributor to the specialty at the local, provincial and national levels.