Celebrating Robert M Sade MD

Robert Sade, M.D. The Department of Surgery is delighted to recognize and honor 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.

Robert M. Sade, M.D. holds the position of Distinguished University Professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. A native of Newton, MA, Dr. Sade graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons nearly 60 years ago. Upon graduating, he began his general surgery training on the Harvard Surgical Service, Boston City Hospital. Toward the end of his general surgery training he was offered a position in the Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) general pediatric surgery training program, which provided the opportunity to blend his two passions: surgery and caring for children.

Before he started at BCH, however, he fulfilled a two-year obligation to serve in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, including a year on the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CVA-64) in the Gulf of Tonkin.Upon completion of his military service, Dr. Sade had the opportunity to work in the cancer research laboratory of world-renowned cancer researcher, Judah Folkman, M.D., at the Dana Farber Cancer Research Center. Dr. Sade acknowledges Dr. Folkman’s contributions to his present-day ethical philosophy, and describes him as one of the most brilliant, kind, and honest human beings he’s known.

During his training at BCH, Dr. Sade also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Robert Gross, a pioneer of children’s surgery, and Dr. Aldo Castaneda, a world-renowned cardiac surgeon. Dr. Sade was Dr. Castaneda’s first chief resident at BCH, and together they embarked on creating a range of innovative approaches to children’s heart surgery, including developing a method of deep hypothermic circulatory arrest to allow access to the interior of a baby’s non-beating heart in a bloodless field.

During his time at BCH Dr. Sade realized his life’s work: surgical correction of heart disease in children. After finishing his training, he remained on the Harvard faculty and BCH surgical staff; then in 1975, he was recruited to MUSC where he had the opportunity to create and lead the pediatric cardiac surgery program at MUSC, the only such program in South Carolina.During Dr. Sade’s two decades of clinical work, research, and teaching at MUSC, he also served in many administrative roles including President of the Faculty Senate, Medical Director of MUH, Assistant Dean (Admissions) and Associate Dean (Clinical Affairs) of the College of Medicine, among others. His current positions include Professor of Surgery and Director of the Institute of Human Values in Health Care at MUSC.

Dr. Sade has served in many roles at the national level, including as President of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, Associate Editor of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, and Chair of the ethics committees of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, and the American Medical Association. 

His long list of honors includes the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Distinguished Service Award, among many others. Dr. Sade has enjoyed two substantial professional careers over nearly 60 years: first, pediatric cardiac surgery and later, bioethics.

While he continues to teach, lecture, and write in the fields of bioethics and surgical ethics, his most prized legacy will be the surgical correction of heart disease in children — a legacy that continues through the Pediatric Heart Surgery Program at MUSC, led by Dr. Scott Bradley. “My first professional love, pediatric cardiac surgery, remains my greatest and I feel fortunate to have been in a position to make a positive contribution to MUSC and to the field of pediatric cardiac surgery by establishing an endowment in the MUSC Foundation,” said Dr. Sade.

“MUSC has become one of the leading centers in the country for the treatment of congenital heart disease under the leadership of Scott Bradley, who is now recognized as one of the nation’s top children’s heart surgeons. He and his colleagues, including surgeon Minoo Kavarana, have elevated MUSC’s children’s heart program far above the level of excellence I was able to achieve over the two decades I headed the program,” said Dr. Sade. “Needless to say, I’m thrilled that Scott is the first to hold the Sade Endowed Chair. ”