Thomas J. Watson, MD, is a highly experienced thoracic surgeon who has built a strong reputation of excellence and innovation in his field. His specific interests include endoscopic therapies for early esophageal cancer and minimally invasive surgical approaches to lung and esophageal disease. As Regional Chief of Surgery and Regional Chief of Thoracic Surgery for MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Dr. Watson oversees a large multispecialty and multihospital academic department, including clinical care, research, education, patient satisfaction, quality, outcomes and safety for surgical procedures at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, and MedStar St. Mary's Hospital.
Dr. Watson specializes in the surgical and endoscopic treatment of benign esophageal and foregut conditions, such as GERD and motility disorders including achalasia, as well as cancers involving the esophagus or stomach. In addition, he performs operations for lung cancer, airway conditions, interstitial lung disease and pleural effusions through the use of open and minimally invasive approaches, robotics, and endoscopic modalities. Further interests include surgery for disorders of the thymus, mediastinum and chest wall.
During his 20 years with the University of Rochester, Dr. Watson served as Chief of Thoracic Surgery for 11 years and as Program Director of the Surgery residency for 4 years. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Western Thoracic Surgical Association, the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, the International Society for Minimally Invasive Cardiothoracic Surgery, the International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus, the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, the General Thoracic Surgical Club, and the Thoracic Surgery Directors Association.
Dr. Watson completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University with Distinction. He received his medical degree from Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, where he graduated with honors as valedictorian and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society, before completing an internship and residency training in general surgery at the University of Southern California Hospitals. He stayed with the University of Southern California Hospitals to complete residencies in esophageal surgery and cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, in addition to research in esophageal motility. His research interests include endoscopic therapies for early esophageal cancer, advances in esophageal reconstructive procedures (such as colon interposition), complex esophageal and foregut reconstructions, clinical benefits and cost reductions associated with minimally invasive lung surgery, and diagnostic testing for benign esophageal diseases.
Dr. Watson is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. "America's Top Doctors for Cancer" (2007 - 2016) and Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. "America's Top Doctors" (2008 - 2016).
He has published more than 75 original research and scholarly papers, nearly 20 reviews and editorials in refereed journals, more than 25 book chapters, and 65 abstracts. He is also an avid speaker and has been invited by numerous organizations to speak locally, nationally, and internationally.
Dr. Watson is passionate about building a multidisciplinary thoracic surgical practice that is second to none in the region. He treats patients in a comprehensive manner through collaborations with colleagues in associated specialties.
When not researching ways to perform procedures using less invasive techniques in order to achieve lower morbidity, less pain, and quicker recovery, Dr. Watson enjoys running, biking, tennis, golf and practicing the electric bass and piano.
Philosophy of Care
"What motivates me is doing the best for my patients. As a surgeon, I have the ability to positively impact an individual's health, potentially curing an underlying condition or improving quality of life. In order to find the right treatment for each individual, I utilize collaborations with specialists from other disciplines and have at my disposal an array of surgical and endoscopic therapies, including minimally invasive approaches.
"Communication is a very important aspect of my practice. I spend a lot of time educating my patients on their diagnosis and treatment options. My goal is for them to be involved in their care and to fully understand the treatment options they are choosing. Ultimately, the patient must be well-informed and feel comfortable with whatever decisions are being made regarding their medical and surgical management. Easy accessibility to me and my team before and after surgery is also a goal that is of paramount importance."