Dr. Taylor Ripley Joins the Baylor College of Medicine

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Dr. Taylor Ripley

Dr. Taylor Ripley has accepted a position at Baylor College of Medicine, taking over from renowned oncologist Dr. David Sugarbaker, who passed away on 29th August 2018 at the age of 56. Dr. Sugarbaker, who was commonly known as ‘Mr. Mesothelioma’, worked closely with Dr. Ripley and personally named him his successor.

Baylor College of Medicine is a well-known center for mesothelioma patients. Dr. Ripley will be working in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Division of General Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Todd Rosengart, professor and chair at DeBakey, speaks highly of Dr. Ripley:

“His focus on mesothelioma and thoracic oncology extends back over ten years, and combined with his specialty in robotic surgery, Dr. Ripley will be able to focus on multidisciplinary management of patients with lung, esophageal, thymic, and other thoracic malignancies.”

Director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center

Dr. Ripley’s new role will also see him serve as the director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Centre in the hospital’s dedicated Lung Institute, which was founded by Dr. Sugarbaker. Dr. Ripley brings over ten years of mesothelioma-based experience to this new role, having previously worked at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for four years.

In 2016, he was presented with the NCI Director’s Innovation Award for his research, which he will continue to work on during his new position at Baylor. Dr. Ripley also wishes to continue to grow his mesothelioma program, translating lab work into clinical trials.

Dr. Ripley’s Background

Dr. Taylor Ripley is a highly trained and experienced mesothelioma specialist. His educational background includes studies at the following institutions:

  • University of Colorado—Residency, General Surgery
  • National Cancer Institute—Fellowship
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center—Fellowship, Thoracic Surgery
  • Vanderbilt University School of Medicine—Medical School
  • Boston College—Other Training, Biochemistry

Dr. Ripley trained in general cardiac and thoracic surgery, but is also interested in:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Robotic thoracic surgery
  • Infectious lung diseases
  • Minimally invasive surgeries
  • Clinical trials
  • Video-assisted surgeries
  • Metabolic profiling

Robotic Surgery

Dr. Ripley’s curiosity in robotic procedure or video-assisted operations stems from his interest in technology. Training with some of the best doctors in the world, Dr. Ripley has learned that many procedures are taxing on the patient — not only during the surgery but also afterward. He hopes that the use of robotic systems can help to reduce recovery times by making smaller, more precise incisions than a non-robotic operation.

This is particularly important with mesothelioma surgeries, as these tend to be incredibly invasive and can take up to a month of recovery. In the case of elderly patients or veterans, the recovery period can be almost as dangerous as the operation itself. With the help of technology, Dr. Ripley aims to eliminate this concern.

Research and Treatment Improvements

The successful treatment of mesothelioma and esophageal cancer are two of Dr. Ripley’s primary goals. He hopes to achieve better outcomes for patients with both diagnoses by changing cellular energetics through a technique called Dynamic BH3 Profiling.

This process measures a cell’s susceptibility to perish, which can determine whether a tumor may be more or less likely to die when treated. Dr. Ripley believes that his research on the topic can help to determine the likelihood of a patient reacting to treatment.

Training the Next Generation of Specialists

Aside from running the Mesothelioma Treatment Centre and becoming a Director at Baylor, Dr. Ripley will also join the Baylor College of Medicine as a professor of surgery. Having worked with some of the best doctors in the U.S., Dr. Ripley knows from first-hand experience how important it is for students to understand the intricacies of mesothelioma and other lung-based cancers.

His new position is important to him as it will allow him to develop relationships with his students and train them for the future. At only 41 years old himself—an age when most doctors are only just specializing in a specific area—Dr. Ripley is best placed to speak with students and teach them about the importance of research and clinical trials. He hopes to inspire the next generation of doctors and instill in them the devotion he inherited from Dr. Sugarbaker and others.

Expectations for Dr. Ripley are high, but so is his passion for treating patients. His dedication to finding a cure for mesothelioma, coupled with his expertise in robotic and video technology are but two reasons why Dr. Sugarbaker named him as successor. We look forward to following Dr. Ripley’s career and wish him the very best of luck in his new role.

Veterans Support Team
Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

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  4. Metabolomic and BH3 profiling of esophageal cancers: novel assessment methods for precision therapy. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29933761. Accessed September 12, 2018.