John A. Olson Jr., MD, PhD

John A. Olson Jr., MD, PhD

Chair, Department of Surgery, William K. Bixby Professor

John A. Olson, Jr., MD, PhD is the William K. Bixby Endowed Professor, Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Washington University, and Surgeon-in Chief of Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. He specializes in endocrine surgery with a focus on surgical diseases of the parathyroid and thyroid glands, and in surgical oncology including breast cancer and melanoma. Dr. Olson is an experienced, high volume parathyroid and thyroid surgeon.  He also has advanced the use of neoadjuvant endocrine therapy to enable women needing mastectomy to successfully preserve their breast with smaller surgery.  His NIH-funded research laboratory investigates the molecular pathogenesis of parathyroid tumors and his clinical research has focused on novel neoadjuvant therapies for breast cancer and biomarkers of breast cancer clinical outcomes.

Dr. Olson joined the Faculty at Washington University in 2022 following a 10-year tenure at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland, and a 12-year tenure at Duke University Medical School in Durham, North Carolina.  He trained in surgical oncology at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and in general surgery at Barnes – Jewish Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis.  During his residency he also was a Registrar of the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh Scotland.  Dr. Olson received his MD and PhD degrees from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. 


Specialty Areas

  • Endocrine surgery
  • Hyperparathyroidism / Parathyroid surgery
  • Thyroid cancer / Thyroid surgery
  • Breast cancer / Breast surgery
  • Melanoma / melanoma surgery

Board Certifications

American Board of Surgery


Medical School: University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainsville, FL, 1992


General Surgery Residency, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, 1998


Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, NY, 2000

Professional Memberships

2000 – Association for Academic Surgery
2001 – American College of Surgeons Oncology Group
2001 – Society of Surgical Oncology
2002 – Fellow, American College of Surgeons
2004 – Society of University Surgeons
2004 – Sabiston Society
2008 – Surgical Biology Club II
2008 – Southern Surgical Association
2010 – Society of Clinical Surgery
2011 – Halsted Society
2012 – American Surgical Association

Editorial and Review Boards

2010 – Annals of Surgical Oncology, Assoc. Section Editor – Endocrine
2004 – Annals of Surgery, ad hoc reviewer
2011- Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, ad hoc reviewer
2008- Cancer, ad hoc reviewer
2002- Journal of the American College of Surgeons, ad hoc reviewer, September 19, 2021 Page 5 of 26
2013 – Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, ad hoc reviewer

Awards and Honors

Fellow (FACS), American College of Surgeons
2011 – present Castle Connolly America’s Top Doctors
2011 – present Castle Connolly America’s Top Doctors for Cancer
2007 – present Best Doctors
2009 – present Marquis Who’s Who in Medicine and Health Care
2011 – 2013 US News and World Report, Best Doctors, top 1%
(Poll discontinued 2013)
2013 Faculty Marshall, University of Maryland School of Medicine Class of 2013
1992 Graduation with honors, University of Florida
1991 Alpha Omega Alpha, University of Florida
1991 Oppelt Award in Pharmacology, University of Florida
1986 Graduation cum laude, University of Michigan


Areas of Research Interest

A recipient of multiple NIH grants, he achieved recognition for his groundbreaking basic science and clinical research on endocrine tumor formation. In particular, his work has led to a greater understanding of how excessive hormone and calcium levels can contribute to tumor development and disease, with a particular focus on how hyperparathyroidism leads to parathyroid neoplasia. His research team reported the first isolation and functional characterization of parathyroid cell subtypes from parathyroid tumors, findings that have enabled the field to hone in on the disease’s development and trajectory. Further, his clinical research has focused on novel endocrine therapies aimed at shrinking breast cancer tumors and determining biomarkers related to breast cancer outcomes.



Hospital Affiliations

Barnes-Jewish Hospital

Patients Seen At

Center for Advanced Medicine
Joanne Knight Breast Health Center
4921 Parkview Place, Suite F, Floor 5
St. Louis, MO 63110
Fax: 888-352-8360

News and Stories

Surgeon-scientist Olson named head of surgery (Washington University School of Medicine News)


To make an appointment with Dr. Olson, please contact 314-362-2280.