New practices, new ideas 

Profiles of the young and (previously) unlisted.

Rheumatologist Eleanor Lipsmeyer owns the Arkansas Times' Best Doctor lists. She made the cover of the first issue in 1995 and has been nominated by her peers to the list ever since. More perennials: ophthalmologist Carol Chappell, cancer surgeons Kent Westbrook and Suzanne Klimberg, oncologist Laura Hutchins. Ditto neurologist Lee Archer. Physicians with a lot of experience, the big names. Mentors to most of Arkansas's doctors.

So this year, the Times decided to dissect the winners list to find some young and previously unheralded doctors. The doctors profiled here range in age from 34 to 41, and many consider themselves to be at the beginning of their careers.

These aren't the only young doctors to be nominated by their peers to the Best Doctors® and the Times lists. We worked with certain criteria — number of times a name was mentioned and our ability to determine a nominee's age — and so this should be considered merely a sample of what young physicians are bringing to Little Rock. With youth comes advanced techniques learned in recently completed fellowships and many hours spent in clinics and operating rooms. The diverse group, including Arkansans, a Chilean, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, a Ghanan, a Brazilian — even someone from Des Moines — have brought new blood and new ideas to Arkansas medicine.

Jason Badgwell, 38

Pancreatic cancer, melanoma

Jason Badgwell came to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences after completing a fellowship at M.D. Anderson in Houston three and a half years ago. He is a general cancer surgeon who concentrates on pancreatic cancer and melanoma, and does some colorectal surgery and "a lot of weird stuff," rare cases referred to UAMS. (For example: Cancer of the appendix is a 1-in-a-million occurrence; he's seeing four cases a year.) Badgwell operates on cancers for which there is no good chemotherapy and are radiation resistant, cases in which surgery is the only curative treatment.

Yet, 80 percent of patients who present with pancreatic cancer can not be operated on. The disease doesn't create symptoms until it causes an obstruction and pain. And after surgery, survival to five years is rare; only 15 percent of those operated on will get a cure. So that's 15 percent of 20 percent.

With such dim prospects, what makes Badgwell love surgery? "It's the most challenging. That's what drew me to it. It's the hardest surgery you can do, and there's a lot of room for improvement." And the patients he sees "I can potentially cure." The ability to treat patients with advanced cases of cancer makes him feel, he said, "like I'm filling a need in the state of Arkansas."

Some of Badgwell's surgery is palliative — done to ease pain rather than seek a cure. He also has a first at UAMS: An "isolated limb perfusion," a treatment for melanoma that has spread along the lymphatic system to the arms or legs. The blood circulation from the limb is blocked with a tourniquet so that the doctor can inject an artery or vessel with a high dose of chemo that won't spread to the rest of the body. It's a procedure he learned at M.D. Anderson.

Lanessa Bass, 35

General pediatrician

Lanessa Bass likes to teach and see patients, something she can do at Arkansas Children's Hospital, and she likes living in the big city — which Little Rock can feel like to someone who was raised in Hawkins in East Texas.

After getting her MD at the University of Galveston, the oldest medical school west of the Mississippi she tells us, Bass did her residency training at Children's. After a brief detour back to Texas, Bass returned to ACH in 2007 to join the faculty. (She's also working on a master's degree in education from the University of Cincinnati.)



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