Jamieson helps make UCSD Medical Center division tick


Dr. Stuart Jamieson, a surgeon at UCSD Medical Center, recently received a new designation to add to his impressive list of titles.

Currently a Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Director of the Lung Transplant Program and Director-Elect of the Sulpizio Family Cardiovascular Center, Jamieson now also holds the title of endowed Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

“A university chair is a very prestigious position,” Jamieson said. “It kind of acknowledges a senior person and in many ways acknowledges their life’s work. It’s a very great honor.”

As the beneficiary of the $2 million chair, Jamieson will be able to use the money in any way he chooses: hiring staff members, funding start-up clinical programs or seeding research projects. When Jamieson retires, the chair will then be assumed by his successor, making it a valuable recruiting tool.

Jamieson has dedicated his career to the field of cardiothoracic medicine.

Born in what is now Zimbabwe, Jamieson attended medical school in London where he became interested in transplantation.

“While still a medical student, I decided to do heart surgery because it was the most exciting, the most cutting edge and a discipline where you could do the most good,” Jamieson said.

He went on to study under Norman Shumway, M.D., who performed the first heart transplant in the U.S.

In 1989, Jamieson relocated his entire team of surgeons and nurses from the Minnesota Heart and Lung Institute at the University of Minnesota to UCSD Medical Center.

Since then, he has established himself as one of the leading physicians in the area of cardiothoracic surgery, particularly because of his Pulmonary Thromboendarterectomy Program. This procedure, developed to remove scar tissue from pulmonary arties, must be completed in 20 minutes, during which time the patient’s body is drained of blood.

Of all his titles, the one Jamieson says he is most proud of is that of teacher.

“The only lasting legacy that any of us has is not really money,” he said. “It’s what you leave behind in terms of what you’ve taught other people. Few people know to the extent that I do how profound the affect can be, that you can pass your knowledge to the next generation.”

More to life

Jamieson has lived in La Jolla for 10 years, having moved to the village to avoid commuting. He said one of the main draws is the ocean.

“My wife and I often walk on the beach,” he said. “The weather is unsurpassed. It’s a nice place to live.”

A soft-spoken physician, Jamieson expresses his vitality and passion through his work and hobbies. He flies a helicopter, using it to travel back and forth to his working cattle ranch in Santa Ysabel. He also participates in cross-continental car rallies.

While Jamieson has yet to decide where or how he will direct the endowed chair funding, he expressed interest in research and treatment for end-stage heart and lung failure.

A breakthrough would mean hundreds of saved lives, he said.