Colon and Rectal Surgery

Called to Serve

When Sean Glasgow, MD, is not serving as a faculty member in the Section of Colon and Rectal Surgery, he’s serving the United States military as a citizen Airman at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. For Glasgow, being both a surgeon at Washington University School of Medicine and a member of the medical team at the Air Force Reserve is incredibly rewarding. 

In addition to being a surgeon, serving in the military was always something that Glasgow felt called to do. Throughout his career, he has been able to treat hundreds of patients here and abroad. 

“I’ve always had ties to the military through my family, so it was an easy decision for me,” he states. “Then going through college and medical school I found I really enjoyed it.” 

Before joining the Air Force Reserve, Glasgow was an F-15E Flight Surgeon for the 333rd Fighter Squadron in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and an instructor for 3 years at the U.S. Air Force Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS). He also commanded the 1st Special Operations Group Forward Surgical Team (FST) on a combat deployment to the Philippines and deployed as the Lead Surgeon for the 655th FST during a tour in Ghazni, Afghanistan. 

Glasgow was deployed several times during his service. Being in a combat zone had its own set of challenges, such as being away from family, but looking back now, Glasgow sees these times as a period of growth and fulfillment. 

“I can remember almost every operation I did overseas, the circumstances there and the people involved,” he states. “And it wasn’t just all the U.S. military service members; we took care of a lot of injured civilians in Afghanistan and other places. It’s rewarding when I think back about that, those memories helping those people.” 

Now, as a citizen Airman, he helps to train other Reservists to be prepared if they are deployed overseas. Glasgow commands the 932nd Medical Squadron, a unit of 200 people, making sure everyone has the correct training and coordinating the logistics to be ready to go if they are called up.  

Glasgow spends two to four days a month and two weeks a year taking care of this unit. Because this time can interfere with his schedule on campus, he remains grateful for his supportive colleagues at Washington University. 

“WashU and my partners have been terrific because they’ve allowed me to keep that component of my career active, by covering when I’m not around and taking care of my patients,” he says. 

In addition to feeling supported in his military endeavors, Glasgow likes being a faculty member at the School of Medicine because of the people he gets to work with every day: fellow surgeons, surgical care teams, colleagues in gastroenterology, radiology and pathology, and Department of Surgery trainees. 

“I love the camaraderie among the group, and I very much enjoy working with top specialists in other disciplines,” he says. “It elevates the whole group effort when everyone is trying to work together to achieve a certain level of excellence.” 

In particular, Glasgow likes playing a role in the education of several colon and rectal surgery fellows and general surgery residents. 

“In my opinion, they’re top notch,” he says. “I enjoy watching them progress in their understanding and abilities and seeing them grow as physicians and surgeons.”  

Sean Glasgow, MD, (right) performing surgery with general surgery resident Alston James, MD.

On top of being a surgeon, educator and citizen Airman, Glasgow’s main focus over the past few years has been establishing a successful peritoneal disease program at the School of Medicine. Glasgow has partnered with faculty from the Section of Surgical Oncology to offer the most advanced treatments for peritoneal cancer, including cytoreduction with HIPEC, which involves removing all visible tumors before applying chemotherapy directly to the peritoneal cavity to kill any remaining cancer. 

“With the peritoneal surface disease program, there’s huge opportunity for research in the fields of nanoparticles and the immune system in regard to treating these difficult cancers, so I think that those things are exciting and on the horizon.” 

A gifted writer and researcher, Glasgow has many peer-reviewed publications, has been awarded grants, has presented nationally and internationally, and has served the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons on various committees. 

Glasgow’s experiences as a member of the military, a colorectal surgeon and a researcher and educator within the Department of Surgery demonstrate his commitment to patients everywhere. Not only does he help the patients of today, but through training the next generation of surgeons and advancing the field of surgery, he is also helping the patients of tomorrow.