James Kang

James Kang

Kang Appointed Chair of Department of Orthopedic Surgery
James D. Kang, MD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, effective Sept. 1.

A nationally recognized orthopedic spine surgeon, Kang joins BWHC from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), where he is the executive vice chair for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, the endowed chair in Orthopedic Spinal Surgery and the director of the Ferguson Laboratory Musculoskeletal Research Center for Spine Research.

Kang is an internationally renowned leader in the basic science and clinical treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration—osteoarthritis of the spine—with a research team that focuses on the biochemistry of disc degeneration and the biomechanics of the spine. Kang has been leading the development of novel therapies for disc degeneration based on the latest gene transfer and stem cell technologies. He has also been an invaluable teacher to residents and fellows, as well as graduate students and post-doctoral research fellows at the University of Pittsburgh.

“A collaborative leader, Dr. Kang brings a depth of experience in patient care, research and teaching that will surely enrich our orthopedic services and benefit our patients for years to come,” said BWHC President Betsy Nabel, MD. “Additionally, his boundless energy and enormous contributions to excellent clinical care and cutting-edge scientific work have been recognized by several leading spine societies, including the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, where he was just installed as president, the Cervical Spine Research Society and the North American Spine Society.”

Kang received his MD from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. He completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a spine surgery fellowship at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Kang will succeed Thomas S. Thornhill, MD, who announced his intention to step down last year after 20 years of extraordinary leadership in the department.

“We are so grateful to Dr. Thornhill for his unwavering commitment to the department and his dedication to innovation, his passion for training and education and his commitment to providing exceptional care to our patients and their families, setting a standard that other institutions seek to emulate,” said Nabel.

Thornhill will remain part of the Brigham family as a clinician, surgeon, investigator and mentor, in addition to continuing to lead Operation Walk Boston, which he founded in 2007.


Prem Shekar

Shekar Named Chief of Division of Cardiac Surgery
Prem Shekar, MBBS, MS, MCh, FRCSEd, a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon in BWH’s Division of Cardiac Surgery, was appointed chief earlier this spring. He was also appointed surgical director of BWH’s Heart & Vascular Center.

“Highly skilled and respected, collaborative and a truly caring surgeon, Prem will be an excellent leader for our continuing work to further strengthen the Heart & Vascular Center vision,” said Michael Zinner, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery.

Shekar’s clinical and research interests include surgery for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy—a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick—and surgical correction of aortic root and mitral valve disease in patients with Marfan’s syndrome and other connective tissue disorders. He is also interested in minimally invasive valve surgery and radiation-induced heart disease, as well as conventional surgery. He is well-known among his colleagues for his thoughtful approach to complex cases.

Shekar is involved in clinical outcomes research and has published numerous papers. He was the principal investigator in the CIMIT-funded Hybrid Cardiovascular Operating Room project and the site principal investigator for the HeartMate II Pivotal trial, which investigated the role of a novel ventricular assist device as a permanent therapy for patients with advanced heart disease who are not candidates for transplantation.

Shekar joined BWH in 2001 as a cardiothoracic surgical fellow and became a faculty member in 2004. He has served in leadership roles in the division, including interim surgical director of the Integrated Cardiovascular Services Program and surgical director of the BWH Patient Progression initiative.

He received his medical degree from Bangalore University, India, and completed his postgraduate training at the Command Hospital–Indian Air Force and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research in India. He completed advanced cardiothoracic fellowships at the Fremantle Hospital and Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia and at BWH. He is also a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Shekar succeeds John G. Byrne, MD, who resigned as chair in May.

“John’s leadership and experience, which encompass the broad spectrum of cardiac surgery, have been instrumental in the transformation of the Heart & Vascular Center,” said Zinner. “His commitment upon his arrival to BWH was to focus on enhancing the collaboration and teamwork between Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery. He achieved that goal, helping to establish a patient-centric, integrated-care delivery system.”

Byrne will continue to assist BWH in its ongoing efforts to strengthen relationships with community cardiac surgery programs.

A New Chapter for Legendary Educator Marshall Wolf, MD

Marshall Wolf

Marshall Wolf, Photo credit: Stu Rosner

After an esteemed 52-year career of caring for patients with the highest standards of excellence and selfless dedication, Marshall Wolf, MD, emeritus vice chairman for medical education at BWH, has decided to retire from his clinical practice on Sept. 30.

In Wolf’s honor and with the strong support of his patients, the Department of Medicine is establishing the Marshall A. Wolf, MD, Master Clinician Educator Program at BWH. Wolf will become the inaugural incumbent.

The program will ensure that medical students and residents have direct contact and individual mentoring opportunities with the hospital’s highly regarded senior teachers, including Wolf. Faculty who participate in the program will hold bedside teaching rounds and conferences, serve as role models and clinical coaches, and advise the department and hospital on educational matters. Wolf served as director of BWH’s Medical Residency Programs from 1972 to 2000.

“So many of us have had the privilege of learning from Marshall over the years,” said Joel Katz, MD, Internal Medicine residency director. “We are profoundly grateful that he has agreed to remain a presence as our inaugural master clinician educator, sharing his gifts with us and future generations of trainees.”

Known as the “dean of medical residency program directors,” Wolf has shaped the careers and professional identities of more than 2,000 physicians, including more than 1,000 who now hold full professorships at the country’s leading medical schools. His graduates are also leaders of many initiatives to improve health care, including the Indian Health Service, the World Bank and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

BWHC President Betsy Nabel, MD, met Wolf in 1981 when he hosted a dinner at his house to welcome interns, including Nabel, into BWH’s Internal Medicine Residency Program. She said Wolf’s vision and passion guided the program to become one of the finest in the world.

“His alums have made a profound impact on medicine in leading institutions around the world,” Nabel said. “While Dr. Wolf is a renowned and rigorous educator, gifted leader and skilled clinician, perhaps what is most remarkable about him is the compassion and warmth he brought to everyone he touched at the Brigham. Throughout his 52 years of dedicated service, he mentored and nurtured long-lasting relationships with his colleagues, patients, trainees and alumni, knitting together our Brigham family.”

Wolf looks forward to spending time with his wife of more than 50 years, Katie, and their children and grandchildren. He is especially grateful that he will also be able to “continue teaching and learning at BWH,” he says.