David M. Stern, MD, executive dean for the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), has named Benny Weksler, MBA, MD, FACS, as the first Eastridge-Cole Professor and chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at UTHSC. Dr. Weksler will also serve as chief of Thoracic Surgery for UT Methodist Physicians. He will begin his new responsibilities on November 11, reporting to Timothy C. Fabian, MD, professor and chair for the UTHSC Department of Surgery, and reporting to the Cancer Council of the West Cancer Center, which is a collaboration among UTHSC, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and The West Clinic.
Dr. Weksler is an internationally known figure in thoracic surgery who most recently held senior-level positions at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center including associate professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and director of Robotic Surgery. He was also chief of the Section of Thoracic Surgery at the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System.
Dr. Weksler received his medical degree in 1987 from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. He completed postgraduate training and fellowships at New York Medical College (internship and residency in surgery); Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York (Research Fellow in the Department of Surgery); New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center/Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (Fellow in Cardiothoracic Surgery); and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Fellow in Minimally Invasive Surgery, Thoracic Surgery).
“Dr. Weksler represents a level of surgical skill and training in oncology that will provide a new level of care for patients at risk and those who have cancers of the lung and esophagus,” said Dr. Stern. “His training and experience enable him to develop screening and treatment programs that will decrease the morbidity and mortality of these highly lethal cancers. He is a welcome addition to our group of specialized and skilled surgical oncologists who specialize in a range of cancer surgery including tumors of the head and neck, gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts, breast, and melanoma. We are delighted that UTHSC and the West Cancer Center have been able to attract him from UPMC,” noted Dr. Stern.
“When Methodist, UT and The West Clinic established a partnership in 2012, our shared vision was to expand cancer care and research in our region,” said Gary Shorb, president and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare. “Attracting a clinician and physician scientist of Dr. Weksler’s stature is a key step in bringing that vision to life. Cancer patients in our region will benefit greatly from his expertise.”
“I am very excited with the opportunity to join UTHSC, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, and the West Cancer Center, to jointly develop a world-class Thoracic Oncology program,” said Weksler. “It is a great time to be in Memphis, and I hope to be able to use my skills in minimally invasive thoracic surgery and knowledge in the management of thoracic cancers to make a difference in the Memphis community”.
A recognized authority in his field, Dr. Weksler has received prestigious recognition being selected for inclusion on lists of America’s Top Doctors issued by both Castle Connolly and U.S. News & World Report. With experience gleaned from faculty, hospital and administrative appointments, he maintains memberships in a number of scientific and professional societies including the Eastern Cardiothoracic Surgical Society, Association for Academic Surgery, Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery. Dr. Weksler is a Fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Chest Physicians. Serving as a reviewer for various industry journals, he has also authored some 70 lectures, articles, abstract presentations and manuscripts.
The UTHSC College of Medicine, through approval of the UT Board of Trustees, was able to create the Eastridge-Cole Endowed Professorship in Thoracic Oncologic Surgery, a new endowed professorship, by merging the earnings of two existing funds named for Memphis physicians who began a lifelong friendship when they were together in the UTHSC Thoracic Residency Program: Charles E. Eastridge, MD, and Francis Hammond Cole, Sr., MD. The Dr. Francis Cole Professorship was established in memory of Dr. Cole through generous donations from friends, vendors and other contributions to the Methodist Healthcare Foundation, and is managed by the Foundation. The Dr. Charles Eastridge Professorship was established through a $1 million bequest made by Dr. Eastridge in 1998, and is held by the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. Both foundations supported the merger.
About UT Methodist Physicians
Launched in September, UT Methodist Physicians (UTMP) is an academic physician practice group created to enhance primary care and hospital-based medical services in the Memphis area. A partnership among Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, UT Medical Group, Inc., and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, UTMP includes UTMG physicians who have a strong history of affiliation with Methodist.
About Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare
Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare (MLH) is an integrated health care delivery system based in Memphis, Tenn. Founded in 1918 by The United Methodist Church to help meet the growing needs for quality health care in the Mid-South, MLH has grown from one hospital into an eight-hospital system that also includes a home health agency, ambulatory surgery centers, outpatient facilities and physician practices serving the Memphis and Mid-South area.
Methodist was recently named the best hospital in Memphis by U.S. News & World Report, the #2 hospital in Tennessee, and #49 nationally in nephrology. Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare has consistently been named one of the Top 100 Integrated Healthcare Networks in the country.
Affiliated with the Memphis, Mississippi and Arkansas Conferences of The United Methodist Church, Methodist Healthcare combines a dedication to the art of healing with a Christ-centered commitment to minister to the whole person.
The Memphis hospitals are licensed as one and with 1,689 licensed beds and 60,431 inpatient admissions, Methodist is the third largest hospital in the country. With 11,000 associates, Methodist is the second largest private employer in Memphis. Methodist Le Bonheur’s major areas of focus are: cardiology, oncology, neurosciences, transplant, and pediatrics. For more information visit www.methodisthealth.org.