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R. Taylor Ripley M.D.

Dr. R. Taylor Ripley is a board-certified thoracic surgeon who specializes in oncology surgery, and in particular in mesothelioma surgical treatments. He earned his medical degree from Vanderbilt and completed a surgical residency at the University of Colorado. Fellowships at Sloan-Kettering and the National Cancer Institute helped him discover a passion for thoracic oncologic surgery, robotic surgery, and mesothelioma.

Dr. Ripley recently took over leadership roles at the Mesothelioma Treatment Center in Texas after the passing of its founder Dr. David Sugarbaker. He will also see patients and perform surgeries at the St. Luke Baylor Medical Center. He brings his expertise in minimally-invasive robotic surgery and mesothelioma to the multi-disciplinary teams at Baylor and the Mesothelioma Treatment Center in order to provide patients with better options and the best care.

Early Education and Career

Dr. Ripley earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Boston College. He then attended Vanderbilt University’s medical school in Nashville to earn his M.D. Dr. Ripley completed his residency at the University of Colorado Denver where he focused on general surgery.

Following the completion of his residency in Denver, Dr. Ripley began a fellowship at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. During this fellowship he specialized in thoracic surgery and first began working with mesothelioma patients, working under and learning from leaders in the field of mesothelioma surgical treatment.

After the New York fellowship Dr. Ripley moved on to the Thoracic and Oncologic Surgery Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This is where he developed an even greater interest in studying mesothelioma and working with patients to provide better treatments and surgical options. He also became an associate professor at the NCI and began cancer research studies.

During his tenure at the National Cancer Institute Dr. Ripley was involved in more than just research and treatment. He was also responsible for starting and leading the Foregut Team. This is a part of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center that helps manage cases for patients with esophageal cancer.

In addition to specializing in thoracic surgery, robotic surgery, and mesothelioma Dr. Ripley has several other professional interests: lung cancer, esophageal cancer, chest wall tumors, reconstruction of the chest wall, thymic carcinoma, thymoma, infectious lung diseases, hiatal hernais, achalasia, reflux, and robotic mediastinal surgery.

Mesothelioma and Other Specialties

With over ten years specializing in mesothelioma treatment Dr. Ripley is recognized as a leader in the field. He discovered his interest in helping patients with this rare type of cancer while completing his studies as a fellow in thoracic oncology at the NCI’s Thoracic and Oncologic Surgery Branch. After his fellowship he became an associate professor of surgery there.

Dr. Ripley has also specialized in and trained in robotic thoracic surgery. Using robotic machines surgeons can perform procedures with greater accuracy while also doing so in a less invasive way. A major interest for Dr. Ripley is combining his robotic surgery expertise with mesothelioma treatment and finding better, less invasive ways to help treat patients surgically.

Current Position

Most recently Dr. Ripley joined the team at Baylor College of Medicine’s Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Division of General Thoracic Surgery in Texas. He sees patients at the Baylor Clinic and performs procedures at the Baylor St. Luke Medical Center.

Dr. Ripley is also taking over for Dr. David Sugarbaker who recently passed away. Dr. Sugarbaker founded the Mesothelioma Treatment Center in 2014 as a place where patients with this terrible cancer could benefit from experts and a dedicated multi-disciplinary team. Dr. Ripley was hand-picked by Dr. Sugarbaker to take over his role at the Center, which is part of the Lung Institute.

He joins another multi-disciplinary team as well at the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. This cancer center is a part of Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. It provides teams of experts in various areas to provide cancer patients with the best care. Dr. Ripley joins the team as a mesothelioma expert and also as an expert in robotic surgery.

In his new roles at Baylor Dr. Ripley hopes to join his experience and expertise in thoracic surgery, mesothelioma, and robotic surgery to what the rest of the teams have to offer. He intends to expand the role of robotic surgery in all aspects of cancer treatment but particularly in the difficult procedures used to treat mesothelioma.

Honors, Recognitions, and Research

Dr. Ripley began cancer research studies during his tenure at the NCI. His areas of research included targeting mutations in the p53 gene for the treatment of esophageal adenocarcinoma and using mitochondrial pathways to help assess and better understand thoracic cancers. This is a line of research he will continue in his roles at Baylor and the Mesothelioma Treatment Center. His work with the p53 gene earned Dr. Ripley the NCI Director’s Innovation Award.

In addition to his work at the NCI Dr. Ripley also received awards earlier in his education. These included a Dean’s Scholar award, the Dan May Scholarship, which is a grant for scientific research, and the Albert J. McGuinn Award for excellence in humanities and social sciences for students earning a Bachelor of Science degree. Dr. Ripley is currently certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. Ripley has only recently taken over leadership roles left behind by the death of Dr. Sugarbaker, considered by many to have been the leading expert in mesothelioma treatment. While he has large shoes to fill, Dr. Ripley was recruited by Dr. Sugarbaker and has the expertise and passion for his specialties to make a real difference in Texas and for mesothelioma patients.

Page edited by Dave Foster

Dave has been a mesothelioma Patient Advocate for over 10 years. He consistently attends all major national and international mesothelioma meetings. In doing so, he is able to stay on top of the latest treatments, clinical trials, and research results. He also personally meets with mesothelioma patients and their families and connects them with the best medical specialists and legal representatives available. Connect with Patient Advocate Dave Foster

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