News Stories Recognition

Puri Named Chief of Thoracic Surgery Section

Close up of surgeon Dr. Varun Puri in operating room

Varun Puri, MD, MSCI, a thoracic surgeon noted for his expertise in minimally invasive approaches to lung cancer treatment, has been named chief of the Section of Thoracic Surgery within the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

His new role begins May 1, 2024.

“I am pleased to announce that Dr. Puri will be the next chief of thoracic surgery,” says John A. Olson Jr., MD, PhD, the William K. Bixby Professor and chair of the Department of Surgery at the School of Medicine. “Dr. Puri is a remarkable surgeon-scientist and a proven leader in lung cancer and lung transplant surgery. His commitment to optimizing lung transplant donor care pathways and improving clinical outcomes will chart the course for the future of lung cancer treatment at Washington University and around the world. Under his stewardship, the section will continue to thrive.”

Puri, who serves as associate surgical director of the lung transplant program at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, has been key to the program’s recent clinical milestones. In 2023, the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Transplant Center completed its 2,000th lung transplant. A specialist in minimally invasive surgery, Puri has also made major contributions to the implementation of robotic thoracic surgery across the region. Puri led the team that performed the 500th robotic thoracic surgery at Christian Hospital in 2021.

“I am humbled and honored to serve as chief of thoracic surgery at our institution,” says Puri. “Our program has a rich history of collaborative multidisciplinary clinical care, biomedical research, and a commitment to education. I look forward to serving alongside our dedicated team of thoracic surgeons to provide our patients with the highest standard of care, advancing our field through innovative research initiatives, and nurturing the next generation of thoracic surgeons through comprehensive educational programs.”

As an investigator, Puri’s research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other sources. In 2014, Puri earned a Master of Science in Clinical Investigation from Washington University to further his clinical research abilities and build research relationships. A recent study led by Puri identified key metrics of high-quality care in lung cancer treatment, which are associated with improved overall survival rates. Another study found that more frequent CT scans were not associated with improved outcomes following lung cancer surgery, suggesting that treatment guidelines could be revised to include less frequent surveillance imaging. Puri is currently co-principal investigator on an NIH-funded study comparing effectiveness of surgery versus stereotactic radiation therapy for stage I lung cancer.

Puri earned his medical degree from All India Institute of Medical Science in New Delhi, India. He completed his surgical training with a cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Dr. Varun Puri as the next chief of thoracic surgery,” says Ralph J. Damiano Jr., MD, who is the Evarts A. Graham Professor of Surgery and chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery. “He will have big shoes to fill following Dr. Meyers, who has led our section for the last 15 years. Dr. Puri is an accomplished clinical surgeon and scientist, and he has rapidly risen through the academic ranks. He has attracted numerous extramural research grants and developed an international reputation as a leader in our field. I have no doubt that he will do a fantastic job as section chief and provide excellent direction to our talented group of thoracic surgeons over the coming years.”

Puri succeeds Bryan Meyers, MD, MPH, who served as section chief from 2008 until this year. Meyers, who led the section through significant growth and the adoption of robotic surgical techniques, will remain on the faculty following this transition.