Michael S. Mulligan, MD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
University of Washington School of Medicine
I do my best for every patient, treating you the way I’d like myself or my family to be treated and doing everything I can to improve your life.”
How did you decide to go into surgery?
I was a competitive athlete for years, until a series of injuries ended my college athletic career. At first, I wasn’t sure where to channel the drive that had helped me to excel at sports. I stayed physically active and studied health and wellness, nutrition and exercise as an undergraduate. Then my family doctor pointed me toward medicine, and I haven’t looked back. I had written a thesis on the evolving role of holistic medicine in a world of rapidly changing technology, and the doctor said to me, “If you really want to make a difference, get an MD and bring that holistic sensibility to it.” Once I started medical school, professors and mentors steered me toward thoracic surgery, and I have a passion for it. You have to be passionate about what you do. You can be good it, but if you aren’t passionate about it, you can’t bring the same level of care to your patients.
Clinically, I focus on lung transplantation and lung volume reduction surgery. I regularly perform a range of lung cancer resections and am a national expert in robotic thymectomy, thoracoscopic lobectomy and video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) segmentectomy. I also lead regional and national courses on the subject and run a research laboratory funded by the National Institutes of Health. My research at UW focuses on acute and chronic rejection and tissue injury associated with lung transplantation. At UW, I also enjoy teaching and have received numerous teaching awards, including the John K. Stevenson Award for excellence in resident education and the McGoon Award, given to a cardiothoracic surgeon who exemplifies outstanding teaching and mentorship in the United States. I am among the youngest members ever elected to the American Surgical Association and am proud to be considered a leader in cardiothoracic surgery.
Why is video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) used?
VATS segmentectomy allows me to perform chest surgery through a series of small incisions; a camera inserted through one incision guides my work. This procedure is much less invasive than traditional open-chest surgery. Patients who undergo VATS spend less time in the hospital, need less pain medication and recover much faster. This option is important because I don’t just want to help you survive — I want you to live and enjoy as much physical capacity as possible. If you enjoy athletics or just being active, we need to try to preserve your muscular and skeletal integrity.
University of Connecticut School of Medicine
University of Michigan, Thoracic Surgery; Presbyterian Hospital, General Surgery
University of Michigan, General Thoracic Surgery, Thoracic Transplantation, Pathology
Surgery, 1996, American Board of Surgery; Thoracic Surgery, 1999, American Board of Thoracic Surgery
University of Michigan, Department of Thoracic Surgery, Teaching Appointment; Wayne State University, Internship, General Surgery