July 2, 2020
Dr. Stephen J. Thomas, a nationally recognized cardiac anesthesiologist, began his retirement on June 30 after more than three decades at Weill Cornell Medicine. Known to friends and colleagues as Butch, Dr. Thomas was the inaugural recipient of the Marjorie J. Topkins, M.D. - Alan Van Poznak, M.D. endowed Chair in the Department of Anesthesiology.
During his distinguished career at Weill Cornell Medicine, Dr. Thomas served as executive vice chair of anesthesiology in the Department of Anesthesiology and as an active member of the Physician Organization Operating Board. Most recently, he served as associate dean of compliance for Weill Cornell Medical College.
"Dr. Thomas' contributions have had an immeasurable impact on the Department of Anesthesiology in setting a high standard for clinical excellence and education in cardiac anesthesiology," said Dr. Hugh Hemmings, Jr., professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and senior associate dean for research at Weill Cornell Medicine. "He has trained a generation of clinician scholars who have been inspired by his passion for teaching. He built the foundation for the outstanding educational programs we have today."
Dr. Thomas graduated from Cornell University and received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College. After completing his anesthesiology residency and a cardiac anesthesiology fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital, he joined the faculty of Harvard Medical School. In 1976, he joined the anesthesiology department at the New York University School of Medicine, where he served for over a decade. Since 1989, he has been a member of the faculty of Weill Cornell Medical College.
Dr. Thomas’ impact in the field of anesthesiology is far-reaching. He was named a Fellow of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the Royal College of Anaesthetists. He has held numerous national and international leadership positions, including chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Anesthesia Research Society, and chairman of the Residency Review Committee for Anesthesiology. His keen interest in the economic aspects of anesthesiology led him to serve for many years as a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists Committee on Economics, which he later chaired. His contributions to the field also include a popular text, The Manual of Cardiac Anesthesiology, which was published in two editions. Generations of trainees learned the fundamental principles of anesthetizing patients with valvular heart disease through his lucid descriptions of the pressure-volume loop.
Throughout his career, and particularly in recent years, Dr. Thomas has been a valuable mentor to trainees and faculty alike. His guidance and counsel have had significant influence on many careers both inside and outside of anesthesiology. His commitment to the next generation of anesthesiologists also extended to roles on the American Board of Anesthesiology, where he served as both a director and president of the board.
Dr. Thomas is a role model for those who would combine clinical excellence, education and serivce to the greater anesthesiology community. It is our greatest hope that even in retirement, this important work will continue in his new role as a professor emeritus in the Department of Anesthesiology.