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Internationally Recognized UPMC Cancer Surgeon Joins AHN as Cancer Institute Chair

Thursday, November 7, 2019

David L. Bartlett, MD, a pioneer in abdominal cancer treatment, also serves as president of the Society of Surgical Oncology

PITTSBURGH, Pa.  – David L. Bartlett, MD, an internationally recognized cancer researcher and a pioneer in the use of highly advanced surgical therapies for abdominal cancers, has been appointed Chair of the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cancer Institute, effective the Spring of 2020.

A respected leader in his field, Dr. Bartlett in April 2019 was named president of the Society of Surgical Oncology, a professional group whose mission is to improve patient care by advancing the science, education, and practice of cancer surgery worldwide. Dr. Bartlett will be coming to AHN from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where he holds several leadership positions, including vice chair for surgical oncology and gastrointestinal surgery services, director of the David C. Koch Regional Perfusion Cancer Therapy Center, chief of surgery for Shadyside Hospital, and the Bernard Fisher Professor of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.                         

Before joining UPMC in 2001, Dr. Bartlett was a senior investigator in the surgery division of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute, where he developed innovative surgical techniques to treat patients with abdominal and liver cancers, and performed cutting edge laboratory research in viral based immune therapy.

At AHN, Dr. Bartlett will lead the network’s Cancer Institute, which is currently in the midst of a significant growth strategy that will culminate next year with the opening of an $80 million Academic Center on the Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) campus. The academic center will be complimented by the launch of a new state-of-the-art cancer genomics lab and precision medicine and immunotherapy program at the hospital.

The network’s investment in the cancer program also includes the construction of five regional comprehensive cancer centers – three of which have opened this year in Monroeville, Butler County, and Beaver County, and two which will open in the coming months in Erie and Hempfield Township.  The expansion, supported by Highmark Health’s $300 million commitment to the program, has greatly enhanced and expanded AHN’s leading cancer-treatment capabilities across western Pennsylvania.

As chair, Dr. Bartlett will take the reins of AHN’s unique partnership with the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, which has greatly enhanced and streamlined patient access to new therapies being explored in cancer clinical trials as well as to consultations and second opinions from Hopkins’ team of leading cancer specialists. 

“Dr. Bartlett is a brilliant surgeon and a proven physician leader who shares our commitment to delivering high-quality, patient-centered cancer care, to creating new standards of care through innovation and research, and to developing the next generation of cancer experts and pioneers,” said AHN President and CEO Cynthia Hundorfean. “We are absolutely thrilled to welcome a physician of his caliber and immense accomplishments to our team, and look forward to further advancing our cancer program under his leadership.”

Dr. Bartlett will succeed David Parda, MD, the long-time system AHN Cancer Institute chair who was named President of AGH last month. Dr. Parda and Dr. Bartlett will work together to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

“AHN has a long legacy of outstanding, nationally recognized leadership in cancer treatment and research, under Dr. Parda and many others on the Cancer Institute’s medical staff in their respective disciplines.  Dr. Bartlett is a highly regarded, innovative and visionary cancer surgeon who will serve the organization well in this important new role, and we are excited to begin working with him as we continue our great collaboration with AHN on behalf of cancer patients in western Pennsylvania, Maryland, and across the country,” said William Nelson, MD, director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

A graduate of the University of Texas School of Medicine, Dr. Bartlett completed a residency in general surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and a fellowship in surgical oncology at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.  He also performed clinical research at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Dr. Bartlett specializes in all aspects of surgical oncology, with expertise in peritoneal surface malignancies, the management of complex abdominal malignancies, gastric cancer, and abdominal sarcomas. He also helped to develop and refine new regional perfusion techniques, among them the modern version of the hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion (HIPEC) therapy, in which chemotherapeutic drugs are heated and delivered directly into the abdominal cavity in an effort to eradicate cancer cells.

While his first months at AHN will be focused exclusively on Institute leadership, Dr. Bartlett will eventually resume his clinical practice at AHN.

As chair, Dr. Bartlett will oversee a multidisciplinary team of more than 200 physicians and 500 advanced-practice oncology professionals.  Clinicians within the Institute annually deliver more than 150,000 cancer treatments to more than 11,000 patients at 24 clinical sites across western Pennsylvania. Over the last two years, the Institute has hired more than 200 additional caregivers, including physicians, nurses and others, to manage increasing patient volumes, and to staff the network’s newly opened cancer facilities and expanded clinics. His role will also include overseeing the Network’s robust clinical trials and laboratory research programs in oncology.

“I have been extremely blessed throughout my career to work alongside so many incredibly dedicated and talented health care professionals, all united by a core mission of providing patients facing the most difficult news of their life with compassion and hope.  That same spirit and commitment to excellence in oncology care is what defines the AHN Cancer Institute and its people,” said Dr. Bartlett.  “I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to lead and help further advance such a distinguished and vital program, and to join an outstanding organization that puts the health of patients and communities at the center of every equation.”