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Paul H Sugarbaker speaks to Theo Bond, Assistant Commissioning Editor: Dr Sugarbaker was born in Baltimore (MD, USA). His college education took place at Wheaton College in Illinois. He graduated from Cornell University Medical College in New York (USA) and from there went for his surgical training at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston (MA, USA), now known as Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He received a Masters Degree in Immunology at the Harvard School of Arts and Sciences in 1983. At the NIH he was a Senior Investigator from 1976 to 1986. After a brief stay in Atlanta at the Emory Clinic he moved back to Washington (DC, USA) to become the Medical Director of the Washington Cancer Institute. He has been at the Washington Cancer Institute since 1989. Currently, he is Medical Director at the Center for Gastrointestinal Malignancies and Director for the Program in Peritoneal Surface Oncology. His interests are in gastrointestinal cancer, gynecologic malignancy and mesothelioma. For many years his work focused on liver metastases. Currently, his clinical and investigative work is directed at the peritoneal surface component of gastrointestinal cancer dissemination, referred to as peritoneal metastases. Dr Sugarbaker is a strong critic of surgical tradition; he believes that major changes in the technology of cancer resection are necessary. His theme, ‘It’s what the surgeon doesn’t see that kills the patient’, summarizes the concepts behind many of his publications both in the peer-reviewed medical literature and in the lay press. In the opinion of Dr Sugarbaker, perioperative intravenous and intraperitoneal chemotherapy are an essential planned part of many cancer interventions.