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Chair's Spotlight: Rahul Sood, MD

Rahul Sood, MDBy Merin C. MacDonald

In this month’s Chair’s Spotlight, we highlight Rahul Sood, MD, director of interventional pulmonology, co-director of pulmonary procedures, and assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care. Dr. Sood is an interventional pulmonologist who works with patients who have lung cancer and other conditions including emphysema and airway stenosis. He also performs several procedures including bronchoscopy in the ambulatory setting. In March, we spoke with Dr. Sood to learn about the path that led him to become a physician and his work as a pulmonologist at UMass Chan Medical School/UMass Memorial Health.   

Dr. Sood grew up in New Delhi, India, and was influenced to pursue a career in medicine through a close relationship he had with his grandfather, an ophthalmologist. After completing his initial medical training in India, he came to the United States for his internship and internal medicine residency at UMass Chan. He continued with fellowships in pulmonary and critical care medicine and interventional pulmonology at UMass Chan and Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, respectively, and joined the faculty at UMass Chan/UMMH in 2018.  

Dr. Sood has been heavily involved in innovative initiatives on the Memorial and University campuses. In 2021, at Memorial, he and his colleagues began performing robot-assisted navigational bronchoscopies to sample small lung nodules. According to the American Lung Association, robotic-assisted bronchoscopy technology utilizes a smaller tube than traditional bronchoscopy and allows for greater precision, while enabling the physician to reach parts of the lungs that are challenging to access with traditional methods. “This was a big step up for us,” said Dr. Sood. “Our diagnostic yield for determining the cause of lung nodules went up from about 70% to over 90% once we started using the robotic bronchoscopy system.” In late February 2024, Dr. Sood and his team acquired a second robotic bronchoscopy system for the University Campus, which will greatly increase access to this important diagnostic tool for patients.  

Dr. Sood also works closely with colleagues in thoracic surgery who have developed a pathway called robotic one anesthetic diagnosis and treatment (RODAT) to assess lung nodules. In this pathway, interventional pulmonology teams perform bronchoscopies and work with pathologists to determine if a lung nodule is cancerous, and if it is, the nodule is removed in the same anesthetic setting by a thoracic surgeon. This is a significant advancement in the care of patients with early-stage cancerous lung nodules, cutting down the diagnosis-to-treatment time from weeks to a one-day occurrence.  

Additionally, Dr. Sood and his colleagues have an ongoing collaboration with radiology for the lung cancer screening program, participating in weekly lung nodule and lung tumor boards to discuss patients with new lung nodules to determine the best next steps in a multidisciplinary fashion.  

The collaborative efforts of the teams' initiatives such as RODAT and lung cancer screening, are, in large part, what inspires Dr. Sood as he continues to build his career. “It's a very collaborative atmosphere at UMass…there's a lot of interdisciplinary collaboration with other divisions, especially with our colleagues in thoracic surgery and radiology, as well as medical oncology and radiation oncology,” Dr. Sood said. “I think that the atmosphere is very collegial here and that's a big draw for me.”  

For his leadership in UMass Memorial’s robotic bronchoscopy program, support of the lung cancer screening program, and collaboration with the RODAT team, Dr. Sood was honored with a Department of Medicine Faculty Citizen’s Award at the January 2024 Town Hall. 

We are grateful to Dr. Sood for his service to the Department of Medicine and for his direction of cutting-edge initiatives that have a positive impact on the quality of care for our patients.