Skip to Content

Stephen G. Swisher, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Division Head, Division of Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Professor, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Division of Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Department Chair, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Division of Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Charles A. LeMaistre Distinguished Chair in Thoracic Oncology, Division of Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Dr. Stephen Swisher is chair and professor of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  He is head ad interim of the institution's Division of Surgery and co-leader of the lung cancer initiative in its recently announced Moon Shots Program - the boldest-ever effort to dramatically reduce deaths to cancer.

After graduating from Stanford University Phi Beta Kappa with distinction and dual bachelor's degrees in history and biology, Dr. Swisher earned his medical degree from the University of California at San Diego School of Medicine.  There he garnered Surgery Honors and the Lange Publications Award.  He completed a general surgery residency and a fellowship in surgical oncology at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, where he received the Golden Scapel Chief Resident Award for outstanding teaching.  He also served as a surgery resident as part of his residency at the University of Nottingham in Nottingham, England.

Dr. Swisher assumed his first academic appointment at UCLA Medical Center as a clinical instructor in the Division of Surgery.  He came to Houston in 1994 for a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at MD Anderson and St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital/Texas Heart Institute, focusing on thoracic surgical oncology.  In 1996 he joined the MD Anderson faculty as assistant professor in the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.  He has continually risen through the faculty ranks, achieving associate professor in 2001 and early promotion to professor in 2005.  He was named chair of his department following a national search in 2007 and was awarded the Robert F. Fly Professorship of Surgical Oncology.

Dr. Swisher is repeatedly listed among the top doctors and surgeons in Texas and the nation.  Other accolades include the Resident Clinical Teaching Award from The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, which honored his dedication to educating the next generation of cancer experts.

Research Interests

An author of more than 260 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Swisher is internationally recognized for his pioneering gene therapy clinical trials in lung and esophageal cancer using adenovirus-p53 and adenovirus-TNFa.  His current translational research efforts focus on developing a novel small molecule treatment of lung cancer (Stat-3 inhibitor oncrasin-72) and revealing the prognostic and therapeutic role of the biomarker PKR/eIF2a.  His research has been supported by the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NCI). 

Dr. Swisher is a member of numerous professional organizations and has served on many national and institutional committees.  He is currently vice chair of the Lung Committee in SWOG, an NCI-supported cancer clinical trial cooperative group, and a member of the Lung Cancer Working Group of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists.

Clinical Interests

Dr. Swisher's clinical practice involves complex lung and esophageal cancer cases.  As a clinician investigator, he focuses on integrating multimodality approaches in esophageal and lung cancer and evaluating novel gene therapy strategies in the clinic.  Enrolling patients in clinical trials is a top priority for him, and his participation in multidisciplinary conferences helps advance this program. 

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
1400 Pressler St.
Unit 1447
Unit Number: 1489
Houston, TX 77030
Room Number: FCT10.5040
Phone: (713) 792-8659
Fax: (713) 794-1940

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1986 University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, CA, MD, Medicine
1982 Stanford University, Stanford, CA, BA, History & Biology

Postgraduate Training

1994-1996 Fellow, Cardiothoracic Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and St. Lukes Episcopal Hospital/Texas Heart Institute, Houston, TX
1991 Registrar, General Surgery, Nottingham University Hospital, Nottingham, United Kingdom
1990-1993 Resident, General Surgery, University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
1988-1990 Fellow, Surgical Oncology, University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
1987-1988 Resident, University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
1986-1987 Intern, General Surgery, University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA

Board Certifications

12/2006 American Board of Thoracic Surgery
10/2002 American Board of Surgery
1987 National Board of Medical Examiners


Institutional Committee Activities

Member, Molecular Testing Evaluation Committee, 4/2013-present
Member, Center for Global Cancer Early Detection, 3/2013-present

Honors and Awards

2009-present America's Top Doctors, Castle Connolly
2009-present America's Top Surgeons, Consumers Research Council of America
2007-present America's Top Doctor for Cancer, Castle Connolly Medical Ltd.
2002-2006 The Surgery Chief Resident Surgical Training Award to the Thoracic Surgery Department at M.D. Anderson, University of Texas - Houston Medical School
2002 Resident Clinical Teaching Award, University of Texas
2000 Burroughs Welcome Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research, MDACC nominee
1993 Golden Scalpel Chief Award, UCLA Medical Center Resident
1986 Lange Publications Award, UCSD Medical School
1986 Surgery Honors, UCSD Medical School
1982 Phi Beta Kappa, Stanford University

Professional Memberships

American Association for Cancer Research, Philadelphia, PA
Member, 1990-2009
American Association for Thoracic Surgery, Beverly, MA
Member, 2007-present
American Board of Thoracic Surgery, Chicago, IL
Member, 1997-present
American College of Surgeons, Chicago, IL
Fellow, 2000-present
American College of Surgeons Oncology Group, Durham, NC
Member, 2003-present
American Radium Society, Los Angeles, CA
Member, 2002-2010
American Society of Clinical Oncology, Alexandria, VA
Member, 1997-present
American Society of Gastrointestinal Oncology, Melville, NY
Member, 2003-present
American Surgical Association, Beverly, MA
Member, 2007-present
Cooley Hands, TX
Member, 1996-present
Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Society, TX
Member, 1996-present
General Thoracic Surgical Club, Rochester, MN
Member, 2001-present
Harris County Medical Society, TX
Member, 1994-present
International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, Aurora, CA
Fellowship Application Review Committee, 11/2007-11/2009
Member, 1996-present
International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus, Los Angeles, CA
Member, 1997-present
International Society of Gastrointestinal Cancer, Melville, NY
Member, 2003-present
Longmire Surgical Society, Los Angeles, CA
Member, 1993-present
Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, San Diego, CA
Member, 1982-present
Society of Surgical Oncology, Arlington Heights, IL
Member, 2007-present
Society of Thoracic Surgeons, Chicago, IL
Member, 2005-present
Society of University Surgeons, Maitland, FL
Member, 2003-present
Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, Chicago, IL
Member, 2000-present
Texas Medical Association, TX
Member, 1994-present
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Associates, TX
Member, 1997-present

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Rice TW, Rusch VW, Apperson-Hansen C, Allen MS, Chen LQ, Hunter JG, Kesler KA, Law S, Lerut TE, Reed CE, Salo JA, Scott WJ, Swisher SG, Watson TJ, Blackstone EH. Worldwide esophageal cancer collaboration. Dis Esophagus 22(1):1-8, 2009. PMID: 19196264.
2. Rice DC, Stevens CW, Correa AM, Vaporciyan AA, Tsao A, Forster KM, Walsh GL, Swisher SG, Hofstetter WL, Mehran RJ, Roth JA, Liao Z, Smythe WR. Outcomes after extrapleural pneumonectomy and intensity-modulated radiation therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma. Ann Thorac Surg 84(5):1685-92; discussion 1692-3, 11/2007. PMID: 17954086.
3. Wang KL, Wu TT, Choi IS, Wang H, Reseetkova E, Correa AM, Hofstetter WL, Swisher SG, Ajani JA, Rashid A, Albarracin CT. Expression of epidermal growth factor receptor in esophageal and esophagogastric junction adenocarcinomas: association with poor outcome. Cancer 109(4):658-667, 2007. PMID: 17211865.
4. Wu X, Gu J, Wu TT, Swisher SG, Liao Z, Correa AM, Liu J, Etzel CJ, Amos CI, Huang M, Chiang SS, Milas L, Hittelman WN, Ajani JA. Genetic variations in radiation and chemotherapy drug action pathways predict clinical outcomes in esophageal cancer. J Clin Oncol 24(23):3789-3798, 8/2006. PMID: 16785472.
5. Izzo JG, Malhotra U, Wu TT, Ensor J, Luthra R, Lee JH, Swisher SG, Liao Z, Chao KS, Hittelman WN, Aggarwal BB, Ajani JA. Association of activated transcription factor nuclear factor kappab with chemoradiation resistance and poor outcome in esophageal carcinoma. J Clin Oncol 24(5):748-754, 2/2006. PMID: 16401681.
6. Luthra R, Wu TT, Luthra MG, Izzo J, Lopez-Alvarez E, Zhang L, Bailey J, Lee JH, Bresalier R, Rashid A, Swisher SG, Ajani JA. Gene expression profiling of localized esophageal carcinomas: association with pathologic response to preoperative chemoradiation. J Clin Oncol 24(2):259-267, 1/2006. PMID: 16344314.
7. Liu L, Hofstetter WL, Rashid A, Swisher SG, Correa AM, Ajani JA, Hamilton SR, Wu TT. Significance of the depth of tumor invasion and lymph node metastasis in superficially invasive (T1) esophageal adenocarcinoma. Am J Surg Pathol 29(8):1079-1085, 8/2005. PMID: 16006804.
8. Chirieac LR, Swisher SG, Ajani JA, Komaki RR, Correa AM, Morris JS, Roth JA, Rashid A, Hamilton SR, Wu TT. Posttherapy pathologic stage predicts survival in patients with esophageal carcinoma receiving preoperative chemoradiation. Cancer 103(7):1347-1355, 4/2005. PMID: 15719440.
9. Swisher SG, Erasmus J, Maish M, Correa AM, Macapinlac H, Ajani JA, Cox JD, Komaki RR, Hong D, Lee HK, Putnam JB, Rice DC, Smythe WR, Thai L, Vaporciyan AA, Walsh GL, Wu TT, Roth JA. 2-Fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography imaging is predictive of pathologic response and survival after preoperative chemoradiation in patients with esophageal carcinoma. Cancer 101(8):1776-1785, 10/2004. PMID: 15386332.
10. Swisher SG, Maish M, Erasmus JJ, Correa AM, Ajani JA, Bresalier R, Komaki R, Macapinlac H, Munden RF, Putnam JB, Rice D, Smythe WR, Vaporciyan AA, Walsh GL, Wu TT, Roth JA. Utility of PET, CT, and EUS to identify pathologic responders in esophageal cancer. Ann Thorac Surg 78(4):1152-1160, 10/2004. PMID: 15464463.
11. Kim ES, Putnam JB, Komaki R, Walsh GL, Ro JY, Shin HJ, Truong M, Moon H, Swisher SG, Fossella FV, Khuri FR, Hong WK, Shin DM. Phase II study of a multidisciplinary approach with induction chemotherapy, followed by surgical resection, radiation therapy, and consolidation chemotherapy for unresectable malignant thymomas: final report. Lung Cancer 44:369-379, 6/2004. PMID: 15140551.
12. Vaporciyan AA, Correa AM, Rice DC, Roth JA, Smythe WR, Swisher SG, Walsh GL, Putnam JB. Risk factors associated with atrial fibrillation after noncardiac thoracic surgery: analysis of 2588 patients. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 127(3):779-786, Sep-Oct, 3/2004. PMID: 15001907.
13. Swisher SG, Roth JA, Komaki R, Gu J, Lee JJ, Hicks M, Ro JY, Hong WK, Merritt JA, Ahrar K, Atkinson NE, Correa AM, Dolormente M, Dreiling L, El-Naggar AK, Fossella F, Francisco R, Glisson B, Grammer S, Herbst R, Huaringa A, Kemp B, Khuri FR, Kurie JM, Liao Z, McDonnell TJ, Morice R, Morello F, Munden R, Papadimitrakopoulou V, Pisters KM, Putnam JB, Sarabia AJ, Shelton T, Stevens C, Shin DM, Smythe WR, Vaporciyan AA, Walsh GL, Yin M. Induction of p53-regulated genes and tumor regression in lung cancer patients after intratumoral delivery of adenoviral p53 (INGN 201) and radiation therapy. Clin Cancer Res 9(1):93-101, 2003. PMID: 12538456.
14. Hofstetter W, Swisher SG, Correa AM, Hess K, Putnam JB, Ajani JA, Dolormente M, Francisco R, Komaki RR, Lara A, Martin F, Rice DC, Sarabia AJ, Smythe WR, Vaporciyan AA, Walsh GL, Roth JA. Treatment outcomes of resected esophageal cancer. Ann Surg 236(3):376-384; discussion 384-385, 9/2002. PMID: 12192324.
15. Pataer A, Vorburger SA, Barber GN, Chada S, Mhashilkar AM, Zou-Yang H, Stewart AL, Balachandran S, Roth JA, Hunt KK, Swisher SG. Adenoviral transfer of the melanoma differentiation-associated gene 7 (mda7) induces apoptosis of lung cancer cells via up-regulation of the double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR). Cancer Res 62(8):2239-2243, 4/2002. PMID: 11956076.
16. Nutt LK, Pataer A, Pahler J, Fang B, Roth J, McConkey DJ, Swisher SG. Bax and Bak promote apoptosis by modulating endoplasmic reticular and mitochondrial Ca2+ stores. J Biol Chem 277(11):9219-9225, 3/2002. PMID: 11741880.
17. Swisher SG, Wynn P, Putnam JB, Mosheim MB, Correa AM, Komaki RR, Ajani JA, Smythe WR, Vaporciyan AA, Roth JA, Walsh GL. Salvage esophagectomy for recurrent tumors after definitive chemotherapy and radiotherapy. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 123(1):175-183, 2002. PMID: 11782772.
18. Ajani JA, Komaki R, Putnam JB, Walsh G, Nesbitt J, Pisters PW, Lynch PM, Vaporciyan A, Smythe R, Lahoti S, Raijman I, Swisher S, Martin FD, Roth JA. A three-step strategy of induction chemotherapy then chemoradiation followed by surgery in patients with potentially resectable carcinoma of the esophagus or gastroesophageal junction. Cancer 92:279-286, 7/2001. PMID: 11466680.
19. Swisher SG, Deford L, Merriman KW, Walsh GL, Smythe R, Vaporicyan A, Ajani JA, Brown T, Komaki R, Roth JA, Putnam JB. Effect of operative volume on morbidity, mortality, and hospital use after esophagectomy for cancer. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 119:1126-1132, 6/2000. PMID: 10838528.
20. Nemunaitis J, Swisher SG, Timmons T, Connors D, Mack M, Doerksen L, Weill D, Wait J, Lawrence DD, Kemp BL, Fossella F, Glisson BS, Hong WK, Khuri FR, Kurie JM, Lee JJ, Lee JS, Nguyen DM, Nesbitt JC, Perez-Soler R, Pisters KM, Putnam JB, Richli WR, Shin DM, Walsh GL, Merritt J, Roth J. Adenovirus-mediated p53 gene transfer in sequence with cisplatin to tumors of patients with non-small-cell lung cancer. J Clin Oncol 18:609-622, 2/2000. PMID: 10653876.
21. Putnam JB, Jr, Walsh GL, Swisher SG, Roth JA, Suell DM, Vaporciyan AA, Smythe WR, Merriman KW, DeFord LL. Outpatient management of malignant pleural effusion by a chronic indwelling pleural catheter. Ann Thorac Surg 69:369-375, 2/2000. PMID: 10735665.
22. Swisher SG, Roth JA, Nemunaitis J, Lawrence DD, Kemp BL, Carrasco CH, Connors DG, El-Naggar AK, Fossella F, Glisson BS, Hong WK, Khuri FR, Kurie JM, Lee JJ, Lee JS, Mack M, Merritt JA, Nguyen DM, Nesbitt JC, Perez-Soler R, Pisters KM, Putnam JB, Jr, Richli WR, Savin M, Schrump DS, Shin DM, Shulkin A, Walsh GL, Wait J, Weill D, Waugh MK. Adenovirus-mediated p53 gene transfer in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 91:763-771, 5/1999. PMID: 10328106.
23. Gokaslan ZL, York JE, Walsh GL, McCutcheon IE, Lang FF, Putnam JB, Jr, Wildrick DM, Swisher SG, Abi-Said D, Sawaya R. Transthoracic vertebrectomy for metastatic spinal tumors. J Neurosurg 89:599-609, 10/1998. PMID: 9761054.
24. Roth JA, Swisher SG, Merritt JA, Lawrence DD, Kemp BL, Carrasco CH, El-Naggar AK, Fossella FV, Glisson BS, Hong WK, Khurl FR, Kurie JM, Nesbitt JC, Pisters K, Putnam JB, Schrump DS, Shin DM, Walsh GL. Gene therapy for non-small cell lung cancer: a preliminary report of a phase I trial of adenoviral p53 gene replacement. Semin Oncol 25:33-37, 6/1998. PMID: 9704675.
25. Hunt KK, Deng J, Liu TJ, Wilson-Heiner M, Swisher SG, Clayman G, Hung MC. Adenovirus-mediated overexpression of the transcription factor E2F-1 induces apoptosis in human breast and ovarian carcinoma cell lines and does not require p53. Cancer Res 57:4722-4726, 11/1997. PMID: 9354430.

Letters to the Editor

1. Ajani JA, Correa AM, Swisher SG, Wu TT. For localized gastroesophageal cancer, you give chemoradiation before surgery but then what happens? J Clin Oncol 25(27):4315-6, 9/2007. PMID: 17878485.

Last updated: 1/20/2014