Robert J. Downey, MD, FACS

About Me

I am a chest surgeon who specializes primarily in the treatment of three groups of patients: those with lung cancer, those with cancers that have spread to the lung from other sites, and those with tumors that arise from structures in the chest other than the lung, such as the thymus gland or the chest wall.

My clinical work outside of the operating room is focused on administering Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Surgical Advanced Care Unit, which provides a heightened level of postoperative monitoring and care for patients who either have undergone extensive operations, or who present with significant debilities (for example, advanced age or preexisting lung disease) prior to surgery.

My research interests involve investigating whether adult cancers arise from the stem cells that all adults have in their bodies, and, if so, what the implications are for understanding the behavior and treatment of cancer.

  • Clinical Expertise: Lung Cancer; Mediastinal Tumors; Mesothelioma; Pulmonary Metastases; Pulmonary and Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, including Laser Endoscopy; Critical Care Medicine; Thoracic Surgical Oncology; Tracheobronchial and Esophageal Stents
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: MD, Columbia University
  • Residencies: Surgery - Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center
  • Fellowships: Surgery - Mayo Clinic; Surgery - Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center
  • Board Certifications: Thoracic Surgery; Surgical Critical Care; General Surgery


Selected Book Chapters
“Resection of colorectal metastases to the lung.” Downey RJ. In: Colorectal Cancer: Multimodality Management. Saltz L, ed. Clifton, NJ: Humana Press; 2002.

“Physiology of bed rest.” Downey RJ. In: The Physiological Basis of Rehabilitation Medicine. 2nd ed. Downey JA, Myers SJ, Gonzalez EG, Lieberman JS, eds. Boston: Butterworth-Heineman; 1994: 448-454.

“Surgical problems in the critically ill oncologic patient.” Downey RJ, Espat J, Hsu FI.  In: Textbook of Critical Care Medicine. 4th ed. Grenvik A, Ayres SM, Holbrook PR, Shoemaker WC, eds. Philadelphia: WB Saunders; 2000.

“Perioperative care of the patient undergoing lung resection.” Downey RJ. Pulmonary Diseases and Disorders. Fishman AP, Elias JA, Fishman J, Grippi MA, Kaiser LR, Senior RM, eds. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1998.

“Oncologic emergencies.” Downey RJ, Groeger JS. In: Critical Care. 3rd ed. Civetta JM, Taylor RW, Kirby RR, eds. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 1997: 2245-2253.

“Physiology changes associated with bed rest and major injury.” Downey RJ, Weissman C. In: Downey and Darling’s Physiology Basis of Rehabilitation Medicine. 3rd ed. Gonzalez EG, Myers SJ, Edelstein JE, Lieberman JS, Downey JA, eds. Boston: Buttersworth-Heinemann; 2001.

“Follow-up after lung cancer resection.” Downey RJ. American Cancer Society Atlas of Clinical Oncology: Lung Cancer. Ginsberg RJ. Hamilton, Ontario: BC Decker; 2002.

“Non-small cell lung cancer—stage III disease.” Downey RJ. In: Current Therapy in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. Yang SC and Cameron DE, eds. Philadelphia: Mosby; 2004.


Visit PubMed for a full listing of Robert J. Downey’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

As home to one of the world’s top cancer research centers, Memorial Sloan Kettering is typically involved in more than 900 clinical trials at a given time. Currently, clinical trials focused on the conditions I treat are enrolling new patients. If you’re interested in joining a clinical trial, click to learn about the trial’s purpose, eligibility criteria, and how to get more information.

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Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicaid and New York State Medicare also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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