Internationally acclaimed heart surgeon Stuart W. Jamieson will join the staff at UC San Diego Medical Center, a move that promises to vault the Hillcrest hospital to the forefront of heart and lung transplant research and procedures.
Jamieson, 42, has accepted the position of professor of surgery and chief of the division of cardiothoracic surgery at the UCSD, Dr. Gerard N. Burrow, the dean of UCSD's medical school, announced Thursday. Final academic committee approval of Jamieson's appointment is expected within a few months.
Jamieson has performed about 500 heart transplants and more than 50 heart-lung transplants--a relatively new procedure first attempted only eight years ago. Jamieson, who trained with renowned heart surgeon Dr. Norman Shumway, claims a higher-than-average survival rate among his patients.
"Dr. Jamieson is without question one of the leading cardiothoracic surgeons practicing today," Burrow said. "Under (his) leadership, the UCSD School of Medicine's division of cardiothoracic surgery will become one of the premier teaching and research programs in the country, and San Diego will become a national center for these specialized surgical procedures."
Dr. Michael Stringer, director of UCSD's Medical Center, said the recruitment of Jamieson "sends one more signal that this region is a biomedical center of national importance."
Jamieson, who is now at the University of Minnesota, plans to move to San Diego with his team of transplant surgeons and nurses by July 1.
Becoming a Magnet
In addition, two agencies closely connected to the developing body of research in heart-lung transplants will relocate to San Diego to follow the accomplishments of Jamieson and his team. The International Registry for Heart Transplantation, which keeps records on heart and heart-lung transplants throughout the world, and the editorial offices of the bimonthly Journal of Heart Transplantation will move their offices here, according to officials at UCSD Medical Center.
For all of Jamieson's rave reviews, he has known controversy. A UCSD spokeswoman said he recently resigned after two years as the head of the University of Minnesota's highly successful cardiothoracic surgery program after several months of turmoil over administrative and personnel matters. He remained on the medical school faculty.
UCSD Medical Center officials, however, do not seem to be worried about Jamieson's past problems, which were apparently the product of personality conflicts with some of the staff at the University of Minnesota, according to UCSD Medical Center spokeswoman Leslie Franz. "At no point was there a question over his capabilities as a surgeon or the success of his program," Franz said.
There was "a great deal of discussion" among the administrators at UCSD Medical Center re garding Jamieson's turmoil-filled tenure at the University of Minnesota, Franz said, but no objections were raised to extending an invitation to Jamieson to come west.
"The administration felt very comfortable that these were all very institutionally specific kinds of agreements and would not really have any impact on Dr. Jamieson's ability to do the job here," Franz said.
"All surgeons somehow are controversial figures . . . and I think Dr. Jamieson is no exception," Burrow said. The academic program for heart surgery in Minnesota was "virtually nonexistent" at the time of Jamieson's arrival, he said. "Jamieson built the program from nothing, and he did it very quickly. It's hard to do that and not step on some people's toes, and I think that he simply stepped on too many toes, and I think he's aware of that.
"We looked into this very carefully, and everyone we talked to has said he really is a brilliant surgeon."
Looked at Jamieson 3 Months Ago
Burrow said the administration decided within the past year to establish a major cardiovascular disease program and began specifically looking at the possibility of recruiting Jamieson about three months ago.
UCSD Medical Center now operates the only kidney transplant center in San Diego County and plans to develop a pancreatic transplant program.
"One of our key missions here is teaching and training, and in order to do it to our full capability, it's important that our department of surgery have a comprehensive transplant program," Franz said. "It's important to not only have a program like this so that young surgeons can be trained to do these procedures, but also a program where research is being done and the procedures can be perfected."
Jamieson, born in Rhodesia and educated in London, took a fellowship at Stanford University in 1978 and helped develop the fledgling field of heart-lung transplantation along with pre-eminent heart surgeon Norman Shumway. In 1982, he was appointed director of Stanford's Heart-Lung Transplantation Program.
In 1986, Jamieson took over as head of the University of Minnesota's heart surgery program, which quadrupled its surgical activity during his tenure.
UCSD's heart surgery program has been directed for the past few years by Dr. Pat Daily, who is also head of the heart surgery program at Sharp Memorial Hospital. Daily will continue to work for Sharp Memorial Hospital and will remain on the clinical faculty at UCSD.
Sharp Memorial is the only hospital in San Diego where heart transplants are performed. No lung transplants have ever been performed in San Diego County.