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David Rice, M.B. B.Ch.

Dr. David Rice is a cardiothoracic surgeon and associate professor of surgery at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston. Rice is also a researcher and a specialist in understanding and treating mesothelioma. His research has delved into some of the more innovative treatment methods being used to fight this difficult type of cancer. Like others in his field, Dr. Rice focuses on using less invasive surgical procedures to manage mesothelioma and to help patients live longer lives and with a better quality of life.


Dr. Rice is from Ireland and that is where his medical education began before he came to the U.S. to specialize and practice. He earned a medical degree from the Trinity College School of Medicine at the University of Dublin and completed his first internship at the St. James Hospital, also in Dublin. From Dublin, Dr. Rice moved to the U.S. and completed a residency program in general surgery at the prestigious Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. At the same time he won and completed a fellowship at Mayo in tumor immunology.

Dr. Rice’s next move was to Texas where he completed a second residency, this time specializing in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, at the Baylor College of Medicine and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. During this program he excelled and was honored with the title of Chief Resident. Dr. Rice stayed in Houston and took a position in 2001 at M.D. Anderson.

Current Career in Houston

As an associate professor in the University of Texas’s Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Dr. Rice has been a leader in educating medical students while also working as a practicing surgeon and researcher. Although he started out as an associate professor, Dr. Rice is now a full professor at the University and M.D. Anderson. In addition to the Cancer Center, Dr. Rice is affiliated with St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital and performs surgeries in both locations. He has also been the director of the M.D. Anderson Mesothelioma Program and Minimally Invasive Surgery Program.

Research Interests and Clinical Specialties

Dr. Rice is a surgeon, board certified in cardiac and thoracic surgery, but he is also an educator with a passion for research. He began specializing in mesothelioma early on, and much of his research has focused on developing better treatments for this disease. His research also focuses on better and more accurate ways to diagnose and stage mesothelioma.

Much of Dr. Rice’s research and clinical approaches are focused on using less invasive procedures to treat patients. His goal is to treat cancers like mesothelioma while making the treatment process less painful and traumatic for the patient. He and his colleagues at M.D. Anderson have been instrumental in advancing the use of VATS, video assisted thoracoscopic surgery, the use of video to make surgery less invasive. Dr. Rice was the first surgeon at M.D. Anderson to use VATS for an esophagectomy.

Dr. Rice is on the board of and was instrumental in organizing the Minimally Invasive and New Technology in Oncologic Surgery working group at M.D. Anderson, a group working together to improve treatment with a multidisciplinary approach.

Dr. Rice’s research projects have included using targeted biological agents in the prevention of cancer recurrence. He also leads clinical trials, including a trial to improve the complicated surgery called extrapleural pneumonectomy. Another study he has led investigated using this procedure along with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Professional Organizations and Honors

Dr. Rice is a member of several distinguished professional medical associations, including the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, the Texas Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the American College of Chest Physicians, and the Society for Laparoendoscopic Surgeons. He holds the position of diplomat in the American Board of Surgery and has been honored as one of America’s Top Doctors and America’s Top Doctors for Cancer several times. He also won the Surgery Chief Resident Teaching Award at the University of Texas two times and the Award on Aging from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

During his career already Dr. Rice has gained the distinction of being a leader in surgical treatments, but also in advancing the understanding and treatment of mesothelioma, a rare cancer. His work is helping patients live longer, and live with less pain and fewer limitations, thanks to less invasive procedures.

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