Daniel B. Jones '82, as a minimally invasive general and bariatric surgeon, likes to do big operations through very small incisions. He is Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is also the Co-Director of the Carl J. Shapiro Simulation and Skills Center, and Director of the BIDMC Bariatric Program.
Jones entered Hotchkiss in September 1980 as a lower mid. "I learned about New England prep schools from an article in Time magazine. I was attending public school when I applied to Hotchkiss. I am not sure how I got in, but it probably had more to do with playing the violin and football than my SSAT scores," he says. Jones knew he wanted to be a surgeon, and he founded the Hotchkiss Medical Club, which went on field trips to hospitals to meet physicians. Jones credits Hotchkiss AP Science courses and the faculty members who taught them. "Mr. Merrill and Mr. Morrill were terrific, and they provided me with the foundation needed to do well in college chemistry and biology." And, Jones is grateful to several faculty members who taught analytical thinking, allowing him to build his confidence enough to put ideas on paper.
Having earned an A.B. in Biology & Society from Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences in 1986, Jones received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1990. He completed his internship, general surgery residency, and MIS Research Fellowship at Barnes Hospital-Washington University School of Medicine. During his research, Jones advanced the emerging field of minimally invasive surgery with new techniques, operations, and devices, and by teaching concepts. "I was in the right place at the right time, and it was incredibly fun," he says.
"Laparoscopy is commonplace today," says Jones, "but the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of gallbladder and gallstones) occurred in 1989 and was still investigational during my surgery training. With laparoscopy, the belly is inflated like a balloon with carbon dioxide gas through a needle, and we then place ports through which we introduce surgical instruments and devices. We can suture, clip, and staple tissues to do the same operations that previously required a big incision, and this results in less pain and faster recuperation. The first part of my career we worked out how to use this technology to do complex operations, but the latter part has been spent developing better ways to teach operations and teamwork using simulation and virtual reality.
"I am most proud of three educational products I have developed and launched with surgical societies. The ACS/ASE Skills-based Simulation Curriculum for Medical Students Years 1-3 maps out tasks that can be taught to medical students in simulation centers during their preclinical rotations. The Essentials App teaches medical students, nurses, anesthesiologists, surgeons, and other physicians everything they need to know about bariatric surgery and the care of patients of size. The Fundamental Use of Surgical Energy teaches the entire operating room team about how to safely use energy devices in the operating theatre."
After training, Jones joined the faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital. He founded the Southwestern Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery with a five-million-dollar grant from United States Surgical Corporation, and over the next five years he trained over 1,500 surgeons in minimally invasive surgery using the Sim Center and vivarium. When he was not teaching, he earned a Master's in Medical Management from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Jones was recruited to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 2003 as Chief of Minimally Invasive Surgical Services. He founded the Carl J. Shapiro Simulation and Skills Center (SASC) to teach Harvard medical students, residents, and physicians in practice. SASC also runs educational programs with local schools, the Boston Red Sox, and scout troops. "A few years ago the Hotchkiss AP Biology class visited SASC for the day," he notes.
Simulation centers are a concept that Jones has been promoting. "Mr. Torrey had us do drills and practice plays, and he led us to an undefeated football season as the Ericson League Champions my senior year, and learning surgery is no different. In a simulation center you can hone your suturing skills and practice operations on virtual reality simulators, so that when trainees come to the OR they have the skills and knowledge needed." Jones helped establish the Accreditation for Education Institutes which set standards for simulation centers. He also had nearly $15 million in NIH RO1 collaborative funding to develop simulators for surgery training.
A leader in bariatric surgery, Jones was the first to perform the laparoscopic gastric bypass operation in Texas. He was an early adopter of the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band and gastric sleeve operations for weight loss. He helped establish guidelines and oversee the MBSAQIP accreditation of more than 900 bariatric programs throughout the United States.
Jones is a busy academic surgeon with more than 300 published scientific articles, book chapters, and editorials, and he is also editor of 25 books. He is past President of the Association for Surgical Education (ASE) and current President of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES). He has been honored by being chosen as a James IV Association Traveler and as recipient of the SAGES Medical Leadership Award, ASE Lifetime Distinguished Educator Award, and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Quality and Patient Safety Award. Jones is also a member of the Society of Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, American Surgical Association, Halstead Surgical Society, and International Surgery Group. America's Top Doctors and the Boston Top Doctors have recognized Jones for his clinical expertise (hernia, gallbladder, stomach, colon, reflux, and weight loss surgery). For advancing the field of surgery, Harvard University recognized Jones with an honorary Master's degree.
Jones met his wife, Stephanie, in German Literature class at Cornell. She is Vice Chair of the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Management at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Son, Ryan Jones '13, recently graduated from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Twin daughters, Cara and Leah, stayed closer to home and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2017 and were both recruited to Columbia University to play Division I lacrosse. Other Hotchkiss graduates include his sister, Kimberly (Jones) Rudolph '87 and nephew Tyler Rudolph '13.
"It's no surprise that Hotchkiss has graduated so many physicians and surgeons," notes Jones. "Hotchkiss students are well prepared for the college coursework. More important, Hotchkiss instills a confidence in graduating students to seek to make a difference in the world."