President-elect of American Society of Breast Surgeons To Use Game Theory to Teach Surgeons About Genetics

Dr. Walton Taylor, a breast surgeon, performs surgery at Texas Health Dallas. (Photo courtesy of Texas Health Resources)

Dr. Walton Taylor—a breast surgeon on the medical staff of Texas Health Dallas who’s been elected president-elect of The American Society of Breast Surgeons—wants to use game theory to help breast surgeons better understand the role that genetics plays in cancer.

The American Society of Breast Surgeons, which has more than 3,000 members in 36 countries, is the primary leadership group for surgeons who treat patients with breast disease. Taylor, a physician with Texas Health Physicians Group and a member of the society since 2002, will assume the role of the organization’s president in May of 2018.

Taylor said that while he hopes to continue advancing the society’s education and training programs for breast surgeons, he has a special interest in the emerging science around the significant role that genetics play in cancer. That’s why he’s currently working with Dr. Kevin Hughes, associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and Dr. David Euhus, chief of breast surgery at Johns Hopkins University, to use the field of game theory to teach breast surgeons about genetics.

Using game theory—the study of mathematical models of how people interact, make decisions, and learn—Taylor and his fellow researchers have developed a series of computer-based games that are designed to help breast surgeons better understand their patients’ disease. Society members will have free access to the modules, which also will allow them to compete against other surgeons around the country. “The point is to make learning fun and engaging,” Taylor said in a news release. “That’s what makes it work. This is about fostering learning.”

Taylor, who attended The University of Texas Medical Branch for medical school, added that he doesn’t want breast surgeons to think merely of cutting and sewing. “I don’t want us to practice the medicine of the past or even of today,” he said. “I want to be part of the future. I want breast cancer surgeons to practice tomorrow’s medicine, by using the latest science and partnering with patients to come up with treatment plans that they’re comfortable with and produce the desired outcomes.”

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