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Apr. 25, 2018

TOPIC: Events, Featured News, Get Involved, Medical, Patient Stories, Patients & Members

Robert Campbell, Jr., M.D.: 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

Posted by Christina Jensen
Dr. Robert Campbell, 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

Dr. Robert Campbell, 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

Dr. Robert M. Campbell, Jr. is Director of the Center for Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome (CTIS) and an Attending Physician in the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). He is best known as the inventor of the Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib (VEPTR) device.

Developed for the treatment of rare syndromes and disorders involving a malformed rib cage or missing ribs, this device was created by Dr. Campbell, then a pediatric orthopedist at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, with the help of his colleague, Melvin Smith M.D. Drs. Campbell and Smith, directors of the Thoracic Institute at Santa Rosa, performed the first of many titanium rib implant surgeries in 1989.

The device has been life-saving for many children. Infants as young as six months can undergo a titanium rib implant. As the child grows, the rib is expanded in an outpatient surgical procedure until full skeletal maturity occurs.

In 1993, Drs. Campbell and Smith named the condition treated with this implant “Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome,” and defined it as the inability of the thorax to support normal respiration or lung growth. They have since described it in four landmark papers published in orthopedic journals.

Dr. Robert Campbell, 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

Dr. Robert Campbell, 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

The Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium Rib was approved by the FDA as a Humanitarian Device in 2004. Dr. Campbell has taught the surgical procedure and techniques to surgeons in hospitals throughout the US and around the world.

NORD provided the initial research grant that made development of the Titanium Rib possible. That funding, through the NORD research program, led to additional funding from other sources, including the FDA Orphan Products Development Grants Program.

Seeking to “pass it on” to other young scientists, Dr. Campbell joined the NORD Medical Advisory Committee and has donated countless hours of his time to NORD as a scientific adviser and reviewer of research proposals.Dr. Robert Campbell, 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award HonoreeDr. Robert Campbell, 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree

He has also supported NORD’s educational programs, reviewing information for patients and serving as a chapter editor for a textbook on rare diseases for pediatricians and family physicians that NORD published with Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins in 2003. The book received excellent reviews in The Lancet and other journals, and NORD continues to receive inquiries about it even today.

Dr. Campbell has also supported NORD’s advocacy on behalf of pediatric medical device development on many occasions over the years. In 2010, his advocacy on behalf of children with rare medical conditions was recognized with a Congressional Resolution (H.Res.1499).

NORD is honored to present Dr. Robert Campbell with the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.


Join us during NORD’s 35th Anniversary Celebration presenting the Rare Impact Awards on May 17!
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