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New Orthopaedic Surgery Chairman Appointed

Building on a Strong Foundation: James D. Kang, MD, Appointed New Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery

James D. Kang, MD, has been appointed as Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and succeeds Thomas S. Thornhill, MD, who stepped down after more than 20 years of groundbreaking leadership.

Dr. Kang, an internationally recognized expert on the basic science and clinical treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration, discussed his vision of building on the strong foundation that was established by his predecessor.

How do you view optimizing patient care?

“I want to promote interdisciplinary collaborations as a way to improve the care of our patients,” Dr. Kang said. “One example of this is our multidisciplinary Metastatic Spine Tumor Board which is very unique in this country. It was originally inspired by one of our faculty, Dr. Mitchel Harris, and involves orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, radiologists, oncologists, radiation therapy, rehab medicine, and bioengineers – so we have all bases covered. The board meets once a week to discuss specific cases in order to optimize the treatment for patients with metastatic tumors of the spine. As a result of this unified team approach, the patient feels comforted knowing that his or her treatment was not determined by just one surgeon or one doctor. I believe that health care professionals in the future will need to work in synergy and across departmental lines to optimize cost and effective patient care.”

How does research support this optimization?

“I would like to raise the bar in terms of basic science research with the goal of fostering translational innovations in orthopaedic surgery that will shape how patients are treated in the future,” he said. “I am going to key in heavily on innovation, starting at the basic science level and will no doubt require a close working partnership between our clinicians and basic scientists. My focal point will be around tissue-engineering and regeneration and on utilizing the resources available here at Brigham and Women’s in a multidisciplinary fashion to recruit researchers to help shape the future of musculoskeletal care.”

What is one of the biggest challenges facing orthopaedic surgeons?

“As we move toward value-based medicine, we must continue to do everything we can to maintain the high quality of care that we are already providing, but also do it in a cost-effective manner,” he said. “This implies that we surgeons need to be acutely aware of the costs associated with the care that is provided. As a major push for the Department, Drs. Jeffrey Katz and Elena Losina, who currently have an outstanding clinical broad initiative in making the collection of patient reported outcomes an integral part of delivering advanced orthopaedic care. This will not only allow our clinicians to critically evaluate individual surgical outcomes in their patients but will also allow for maintaining a large database for population-based clinical outcomes research.”

What are your overarching goals for the future of the Department?

“At BWH there is a unique opportunity to make a positive impact and to guide strategic changes for the future,” said Dr. Kang. “Dr. Thornhill built an outstanding clinical orthopaedic program here at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. My goal is to take what he has built and continue to raise the bar in every aspect of academic medicine.”


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