MD Anderson names Valerae O. Lewis, M.D., chair of Orthopaedic Oncology

Dr. Lewis is internationally recognized for her expertise in pelvic sarcoma surgery and substantial contributions in shaping orthopaedic education throughout the United States, particularly in the area of culturally competent care. 

MD Anderson News Release 08/10/2015

Internationally respected surgeon, Valerae O. Lewis, M.D., has been named chair of Orthopaedic Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Lewis has been a faculty member at MD Anderson for 15 years, serving in a variety of roles. The unit she will lead, the Department of Orthopaedic Oncology, is a new department at MD Anderson created within the Division of Surgery in 2014. 

Dr. Lewis is best recognized for her expertise in the complex surgical management of pelvic sarcoma and limb salvage for the pediatric patient.  She also happens to be the first woman to chair an orthopaedic department at a freestanding cancer center and in The University of Texas System.
Her clinical focus is sarcoma and her expertise is pelvic and limb surgery for adults and pediatric patients. Her past research has investigated the gene functions tied to osteosarcoma and the development of medications that might interrupt this process. More recently, Dr. Lewis has collaborated with others to identify the role of gene mutations in bone sarcoma patients. To date, her research has resulted in 83 research papers published in peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Lewis joined MD Anderson in 2000. She has led MD Anderson’s orthopaedic oncology efforts since 2006, first as Section Chief ad interim and then as Section Chief since 2008. She has served as Department Chair ad interim since Sept. 1, 2014. For more than 10 years, she also has served on the orthopaedic faculty at UTHealth and the Baylor College of Medicine.  Dr. Lewis was named holder of the Dr. John Murray Professorship in Orthopaedic Oncology in 2010.

“I am thrilled and excited to be starting this new role as Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Oncology,” said Dr. Lewis “I am fortunate to have an incredible faculty and staff with whom to collaborate and achieve the MD Anderson’s mission of Making Cancer History.”

MD Anderson’s orthopaedic oncology group is the largest in the United States, made possible through Dr. Lewis’ successful recruitment efforts, which expanded the department from two to six faculty members.  The department is renowned for its expertise in saving limbs impacted by cancer, the treatment of metastatic diseases and the management of pelvic and spinal sarcoma patients.

In addition to Dr. Lewis’ clinical efforts, she has focused on enhancing safety and improving patient outcomes. Her efforts also have helped improve efficiency and increased access to MD Anderson’s orthopaedic clinical services.

She has also played a major role in educational efforts at MD Anderson and within her field.  Since 2002, she has served as director of MD Anderson’s Musculoskeletal Oncology Fellowship Program.  She worked with colleagues in the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society (MSTS) to establish the educational standards for musculoskeletal oncology fellowships. Through the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), she has helped shape educational opportunities for orthopaedic surgeons in the United States.

Dr. Lewis has served a pivotal role in developing a curriculum to facilitate culturally competent care. She has educated current and future physicians on this topic and is one of the editors of the AAOS’s Guidebook to Culturally Competent Care.

She earned her medical degree with honors from Harvard Medical School, where she also completed her residency through the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program. She completed a Musculoskeletal Oncology Fellowship at The University of Chicago.

Dr. Lewis serves in several national leadership roles within her profession. In 2013, she was named president of the Western Orthopaedic Association. She has previous service on the Board of Directors of the American Orthopaedic Association and MSTS and has served in leadership roles for MSTS.

“Dr. Lewis has an outstanding track record of strong leadership within her department and within her professional field,” said MD Anderson Provost and Executive Vice President Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D. “We are confident that in her new role, she will work closely with our Orthopaedic oncology faculty to build further on their impressive foundation of excellence.”