Featured Profile

Isabelle Opitz , MD

“My inspiration to become an academic thoracic surgeon stems from the fact that surgery comprises a wide and technically challenging spectrum from robotic minimally invasive surgery to extensive oncological resection, pulmonary endarterectomy and lung transplantation, and that the physiology behind the diseases we treat is equally broad and intellectually challenging. I would recommend all thoracic surgery aspirants not to miss the opportunity to perform surgical science in parallel to clinical training, as it offers a great opportunity to move our field forward–every scientific project, from lab work to quality control studies, counts! Additionally, it adds another dimension to this very fulfilling and interesting job!

My goals for the future are 1. to deliver the best possible care for my patients, 2. to train a strong next generation of thoracic surgeons in Zurich and trainees everywhere in my executive function in scientific societies, 3. to drive innovation in thoracic surgery for our patients, and 4. to support projects to deliver care to underdeveloped countries. Obviously these ambitious aims are only possible with the right partners in my department, research, different societies, and most importantly, my family!”

Dr. Isabelle Opitz is Director of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland; Associate Professor of Thoracic Surgery; and Chair of the Lung Cancer Center in Zurich. She earned her medical degree from the Medical School University of Cologne in Germany and trained in general, visceral, vascular, and thoracic surgery at Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Charité Campus Mitte, Germany. Further, she completed general surgery residency at Cantonal Hospital Fribourg in Switzerland and clinical fellowship in thoracic surgery at the University of Toronto in Canada before pursuing specialized training at the Marie Lannelongue Center Chirurgical in Paris. Her clinical interests include mesothelioma, chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, lung transplantation, and both minimally invasive and open surgery. She holds numerous leadership positions, recently serving as President of the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Dr. Opitz currently lives in Zurich with her husband and two children and enjoys various sports during her free time, including yoga, pilates, alpine skiing, swimming, and surfing.

As highlighted in her nomination:

“Dr. Opitz is a trail-blazing leader and innovative surgeon. She has paved the way for women surgeons worldwide, while leading diverse teams, changing surgical care for diseases of the chest, and inspiring young surgeons and mentees. She sets the bar incredibly high, she has accomplished an enormously long list of achievements, and she has done so while elevating other women along the way. She is a phenomenal role model for all.”