Message from the Chair

Prabhakar BaligaIn this summer newsletter, the Department of Surgery has several opportunities to highlight and celebrate our outstanding faculty, innovative research and accomplished trainees over the past few extraordinary months.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected — directly or indirectly — the lives of people all around the globe. At MUSC, we are adapting to the pandemic with a focus on the health and wellness of our patients, care team members, and our community. As the department pivoted to prepare for our “new normal,” we continued to provide surgical care using best-practices to protect the health of our patients and care teams and transitioned to telehealth visits when possible.

Our faculty members with extensive expertise in public and global health assisted leadership with disaster management, infectious disease policies, and operationalizing the many aspects of the new COVID-19 world in the operating rooms, ICU, and clinics.

In our feature articles, we highlight a heart transplant patient and lung transplant patient during the early phase of the pandemic. Their journeys highlight how MUSC care teams were ready and willing to go that extra mile to provide compassionate care for these seriously ill transplant patients whose families could not be by their bedside due to the COVID-19 visitor restrictions. 

In this issue, we also highlight the MUSC Children’s Health ECMO program, which received the Platinum Level ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). This award is the highest attainable level as an ELSO Center of Excellence and recognizes select programs worldwide who have demonstrated the highest level of performance, innovation and quality in the delivery of extracorporeal life support. 

On the education front, our programs adapted to our new normal with virtual classrooms and simulation trainings. And, even though our world changed dramatically this year, that didn’t stop us from celebrating our graduates’ significant accomplishments virtually. 

In the research arena, our special section Responding to the Pandemic highlights how the Department of Surgery and the Center for Cellular Therapy led the charge to develop a COVID antibody test and how a team of innovators created 3D mask and cartridge system plans to answer the urgent need of the N-95 mask shortage. The newsletter also highlights new NIH awards and recognitions, and an STTR grant to develop a novel cancer immunotherapy technology.

And lastly, the Department of Surgery is delighted to recognize and honor two pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons: Robert M. Sade, M.D., whose vision and remarkable generosity provided the ability to establish the Robert M. Sade, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery, and Scott Bradley, M.D., a gifted surgeon and inaugural chair holder of the Robert M. Sade, M.D. Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery.  

This is a transformational time for the country and American medicine. Holding on to our true north and our mission of providing exceptional patient care, education and innovation, I am confident the MUSC Department of Surgery will emerge in unison and stronger than ever.

Prabhakar Baliga, M.D. FACS
Chair, MUSC Department of Surgery