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Format: 04/18/2014
Format: 04/18/2014

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West Penn Allegheny Health System Recruits Nationally Recognized UPMC Esophageal Cancer Surgeon for Key Leadership Posts

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

One of the nation’s preeminent esophageal disease specialists, Blair Anderson Jobe, MD, announced today that he will transition his clinical practice and research programs from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) to the West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS) and assume key leadership roles in the West Penn Allegheny organization.

Dr. Jobe has been named Director of West Penn Allegheny’s new Institute for the Treatment of Esophageal and Thoracic Disease and he will also serve as Chair of the Department of Surgery at West Penn Hospital. He is expected to assume his new roles within the West Penn Allegheny Health System on July 1, 2012.

A general surgeon, Dr. Jobe is the Sampson Endowed Professor of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and has served as the director of esophageal research and esophageal diagnostics and therapeutic endoscopy at the UPMC Heart, Lung and Esophageal Surgery Institute since 2008. He also is a core member of the research faculty at the UPMC McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Dr. Jobe is widely considered one of the country’s leading specialists and pioneers in the field of minimally invasive surgery and endoscopic therapy for the treatment of esophageal cancer, Barrett’s esophagus, esophageal motility disorders and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). At UPMC, he created the Esophageal Diagnostic Center, a program designed to provide cutting edge diagnostic and therapeutic options for complex esophageal and gastric disorders, and developed the Barrett’s Esophagus Risk Consortium, a highly successful NIH-funded cancer and Barrett’s screening program.

“There are few physician scientists who have played a more prominent role in the advancement of their field over the past decade than Dr. Blair Jobe. He is one of the country’s most talented and innovative specialists in the treatment of esophageal disease and we look forward to establishing a leading regional and national referral center for such care at West Penn Allegheny under his direction,” said Tony Farah, MD, Chief Medical Officer at WPAHS and President of the WPAHS Physician Organization.

Dr. Farah said West Penn Allegheny’s ability to recruit high caliber physicians such as Dr. Jobe reflects a growing confidence among the region’s healthcare providers in the viability and future of the health system. In November, West Penn Allegheny and leading healthcare insurer Highmark Inc. announced an affiliation agreement that, pending regulatory approvals, will considerably strengthen the health system and position it as the center piece of a new and innovative integrated healthcare delivery network.

Today West Penn Allegheny also announced that Howard Edington, MD, a nationally recognized UPMC leader in the field of surgical oncology, skin cancer and wound healing is also joining the System as Chair of its Department of Surgery and Director of its Cutaneous Oncology Center.

“There is no question that more and more physicians across the region are beginning to embrace the potential of a revitalized West Penn Allegheny as an attractive base to practice medicine and pursue their academic and medical research interests, especially in light of our anticipated integration with Highmark. This will allow physicians within our system to provide high quality care in a patient centered, physician led environment” Dr. Farah said.

Dr. Jobe said he is looking forward to building a premiere esophageal disease program at West Penn Allegheny that combines cutting edge treatments and research with the highly personalized, compassionate patient care approach that WPAHS is known for.

“The quality of medicine that is being practiced within the West Penn Allegheny Health System is unsurpassed, and I am extremely proud to join the ranks of these talented, committed and caring individuals. With the Highmark affiliation, there is a unique opportunity here to restructure the way medicine is practiced within the United States,” Dr Jobe said.

“West Penn Allegheny’s leadership is developing a health care delivery paradigm that is patient-centered and user friendly rather than labyrinthine. They are focusing on prevention and the delivery of highly coordinated outpatient care rather than over-utilization and on making tenable changes to the healthcare delivery model that endure and benefit humanity rather than on gaming a compromised system. This is the environment that I wish to work in and consider it an honor to participate in the change it represents,” he said.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the incidence of esophageal cancer has risen by 350% since 1970 and its occurrence is increasing faster than any other cancer. Because more than half of newly diagnosed patients have advanced, incurable disease, doctors have focused significant efforts on early screening and treatment of a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett’s esophagus.

Working in collaboration with colleagues at the McGowan Institute, Dr. Jobe has played a lead role in the first successful application of regenerative medicine techniques to the esophagus in patients with Barrett’s esophagus and early stage cancer. The innovation was recently showcased on CBS “60 Minutes” as part of feature story on regenerative medicine by noted journalist Morley Safer. He also helped develop and was one of the first physicians in the country to perform a breakthrough minimally invasive treatment for GERD called transoral incisionless endoscopic fundoplication.

A prolific medical researcher, Dr. Jobe has authored or co-authored more than 200 scientific abstracts, articles and book chapters and has delivered more than 200 scientific lectures across the globe. He recently served as the principal investigator for two NIH grants that focus on improving early detection of esophageal cancer and throughout his career has received several millions of dollars in research grants.

Dr. Jobe also is currently working on the development of serum and tissue biomarkers that predict the likelihood of disease progression in patients with Barrett’s esophagus as well as on novel agents for preventing and treating esophageal cancer.

In 2005, Dr. Jobe received the Outstanding Researcher of the Year Award by the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons and in 2010 he was named Faculty of the Year within UPMC’s Division of Thoracic and Foregut Surgery.

Dr. Jobe completed his surgical training with a residency at the Oregon Health & Science University and a fellowship in minimally invasive esophageal surgery at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. He is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a member of numerous national and international professional societies

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