America’s Leading Doctors

From treating heart disease to fighting cancer, these physicians are changing the world of medicine

American 50 list for his groundbreaking technology for regeneration of the anterior cruciate ligament using a bioengineered matrix, the chair of the University of Virginia Orthopaedic Surgery Department launched Laurencin Laboratories, a Center for Musculoskeletal Regeneration and Repair in 2005.

The ACL is the most commonly injured knee ligament, with roughly half a million cases a year reported worldwide. Laurencin has developed a fiber technology that essentially replaces the ACL with a bioengineered ligament. This allows the ligament to generate new growth to repair the knee. So far, he has achieved success in small animal tests and will begin large-animal testing this year, and eventually, treatment of humans.

“The new company catalyzes the work of what we’ve been doing. We hope to bring this to market at an exponential pace,” Laurencin says. He also finds time to speak about health disparities in the African American community, while mentoring African American and other ethnic minority students. Under his leadership, the University of Virginia’s orthopaedic program boasts a 35% African American enrollment (the national percentage is 2%). -Sonya A. Donaldson

Benjamin Carson Sr., M.D.
Title: Director, Pediatric Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Children Center; Professor, Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery, and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Specialty: Neurosurgery
Carson is a world-renowned neurosurgeon best known for his work in surgically separating five sets of twins joined at the head. He is an expert in pediatric congenital spinal deformities, achondroplasia (human dwarfism), and cerebral hemispherectomy, a surgery where half of the brain is removed to help control intractable seizures.

Haile T. Debas, M.D.
Title: Professor of Surgery and Executive Director, University of California San
Francisco Global Health Sciences
Specialty: Surgery
Debas is a distinguished gastrointestinal surgeon, physiologist, and leader in the field of academic medicine. The former dean helped the UCSF School of Medicine become a national model for medical education. He is one of a few surgeons to be elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dale Distant, M.D.
Title: Director of Transplantation Surgery and Professor of Surgery, State
University of New York Health Science Center, Brooklyn-Downstate Medical Center; Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery, New York University School of Medicine
Specialty: Transplant Surgery
Distant is an innovative leader in the field of transplantation. He initiated the technique of laparoscopic donor nephrectomy for living donor transplantation at SUNY Downstate and the use of the dual kidney transplant technique.

Titus Duncan, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Title: Director of Minimally Invasive & Bariatric Surgery, Atlanta Medical Center
Specialty: Surgery
A pioneer in the technique, and armed with
more than 20 years experience, Duncan is called upon to teach laparoscopic surgery techniques to surgeons worldwide. The founder of Peachtree Surgical & Bariatrics Associates P.C., he is a former president of the Atlanta Medical Association.

Debra Ford, M.D.
Title: Associate Professor & Vice Chairman of Surgery, and Head of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Director of General Surgery Residency Program, Howard University Hospital/Howard University College of Medicine
Specialty: Surgery
A dedicated physician with more than 18 years of experience, Ford specializes in colon, rectal, and general surgery. Her clinical research concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of colon and rectal cancer screening

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