Dr. R. Taylor Ripley is an acclaimed thoracic surgeon and director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

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About Dr. R. Taylor Ripley

Dr. R. Taylor Ripley was hand-picked by legendary mesothelioma specialist Dr. David Sugarbaker as his successor at Baylor College of Medicine’s Mesothelioma Treatment Center.

It was the highest possible endorsement.

Sugarbaker, who died in 2018, was the former director of the Baylor Lung Institute and the world’s most prominent mesothelioma treatment pioneer. He hired Ripley six months before he died, knowing what the future held for both.

“Dr. Sugarbaker wanted someone to help grow his program. He recruited me to do that,” Ripley said. “It is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had.”

Ripley, who spent the previous four years at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, came to Baylor with a reputation for clinical, surgical and research excellence.

He plans to finish what Sugarbaker started just a few years before — to build America’s No. 1 program for advancing mesothelioma treatment.

Ripley performs aggressive, open-chest surgeries for mesothelioma, but also minimally invasive procedures for lung, thymic, esophageal and other thoracic malignancies.

He also is building a vibrant robotics program, which has expanded Baylor’s thoracic surgery capabilities.

Ripley sees patients at Baylor and performs most of his surgeries at nearby St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Ripley’s Personalized Approach to Medicine

Ripley is a big believer in the personalized approach to medicine and developing strong patient-doctor relationships. That belief attracted him early in his career to mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer with no definitive cure.

He works to educate each patient and family as thoroughly as possible about the disease and its treatment.

Ripley encourages dialogue and multiple consultations, and provides his cellphone number to patients.

“I enjoy seeing patients. I was drawn to that,” he said. “The harder the management of a disease becomes, the more time it takes, and the better I get to know patients and their families.”

Exceptional Mesothelioma Training

Ripley earned his medical degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He trained under Dr. Valerie Rusch, another noted mesothelioma specialist, during his residency at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

He credits Rusch, along with Dr. Steven Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the National Cancer Institute, for his surgical excellence and approach to mesothelioma.

Ripley’s research today is a carryover from his time at the National Cancer Institute. It was one of the reasons Sugarbaker recruited him to Baylor.

He is an expert in cell biology and tumor metabolism, which expands cancer’s vulnerability to certain types of therapy. Baylor is using that research to improve the treatment of mesothelioma.

“Expectations should be high here,” he said. “This position comes with extreme responsibility to maintain the highest quality for all patients.”