David J. Sugarbaker, MD, 94th President, 18th Treasurer, Former Councilor, of the AATS and current President of the AATS Foundation passed away on August 29, 2018.  His contributions to the AATS, the AATS Foundation, and the field of cardiothoracic surgery are immeasurable. The AATS Council, Members and Staff join with the cardiothoracic community in mourning his loss. Below are several testaments to his legacy.

Letter from AATS President Dr. David H. Adams and AATS Secretary Dr. David R. Jones

August 30, 2018

Dear AATS Members,

We are saddened to inform you that David J. Sugarbaker, MD, 94th President of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, passed away suddenly yesterday, after a long and hard-fought battle with cancer.

A legendary pioneer who helped define the management of patients with mesothelioma and other complex thoracic tumors, Dr. Sugarbaker’s legacy now endures through the numerous Division Chiefs and Professors of Thoracic Surgery he trained that are now in leadership positions throughout the United States.  No other contemporary leader has left a larger footprint on the field of Thoracic Surgery than Dr. Sugarbaker. Likewise, his impact on the American Association for Thoracic Surgery cannot be underestimated, through his service as Councilor, Treasurer, President, and then President of the AATS Foundation. Our Association’s core values – Leadership, Education, Research and Innovation, Excellence in Patient Care, and Mentoring – define in every respect the teacher, physician, and compassionate healer that he was. He loved the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and through his leadership and focused attention he played a major role in transforming our organization into the contemporary, international, and philanthropic organization that it is today. His mentorship of so many leaders in the Association will have a lasting effect on the trajectory of the organization for years to come.

The funeral and celebration of Dr. Sugarbaker’s life will be held on Saturday, September 1st at 10:00 am at First Parish, 535 Canton Ave, in Milton, Massachusetts.  Following the service, his beloved wife Linda and his family, will be hosting a reception at their home in Milton. We were asked by the family to extend an invitation to any of our members who would like to attend.

We have lost one of our greatest leaders in our storied history, and will be planning a lasting tribute to him in the future.


Kind regards,


David H. Adams, MD               David R. Jones, MD
President                                    Secretary




Read the Presidential Perspectives from the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery



Read Dr. David J. Sugarbaker's Chapter in the Book, "In the Words of the Presidents"



Watch the Presidential Address  from the 2014 AATS Annual Meeting