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Dr. Robert Cerfolio

Dr. Robert Cerfolio

Director of the Lung Cancer Center at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center

Dr. Robert Cerfolio, whose innovative work with robotics has led to worldwide advances in thoracic surgery, is the director of the Lung Cancer Center at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center.

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About Robert Cerfolio

  • Pleural and Lung Cancer icon

    Pleural and Lung Cancer

  • Research Excellence icon

    Excellence in Research

  • VAT Surgery icon

    Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery

  • Robotic Surgery icon

    Robotic Surgery

Cerfolio joined the NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center in 2017 after more than two decades at the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham, where he had carved a reputation as one of the most prolific and groundbreaking surgeons in the U.S.

“He has a proven track record of exceptional patient outcomes and will strengthen our robust thoracic surgery and lung cancer programs with his extraordinary expertise in robotic surgery,” said Dr. Aubrey C. Galloway, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, chair, at NYU.

Cerfolio will lead the multidisciplinary team at Perlmutter that handles a variety of thoracic malignancies that include pleural mesothelioma, the rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos.

Role in Robotic Surgery

Robotic surgery involves tiny instruments that a surgeon sitting at a computer board that serves as a remote controller. This type of surgery leads to improved visualization and instrumentation, smaller incisions and a quicker patient recovery.

Gynecologists and urologists have used robotic surgery for more than a decade. But in more recent years, robotic surgery has become standard treatment among many thoracic surgeons who have advanced lung cancer surgery.

Quick Fact:

Dr. Cerfolio is an expert in robotic surgery for pleural mesothelioma.

With mesothelioma, it will simplify the staging and diagnostic process, allowing doctors to better select patients who can be helped by surgery. The robot can be used for lobectomies, lung biopsies and wedge resections, all of which are performed on mesothelioma patients.

The most aggressive surgeries for pleural mesothelioma are extrapleural pneumonectomy and pleurectomy/decortication. Neither of these procedures are done robotically.

Cerfolio did his first robotic surgery in 2010 and has since become renowned for its use with pulmonary resection and esophageal surgery. He has taught his technique to more than 1,200 surgeons around the world.

He developed a four-arm robotic approach for small cell and non-small cell lung cancer as well as other tumor resections.

“I’m honored to be part of a team that brings together all elements of lung cancer care to provide the very best treatment to our patients,” Cerfolio said. “We plan for innovative ways to serve patients in the New York tri-state area and those all over the world.”

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Dr. Cerfolio’s Accomplishments

In his career, Cerfolio has performed more than 17,000 thoracic surgeries in his management of abnormalities of the chest.

He received undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Rochester, where he also was a Rhodes Scholar candidate and All-American baseball player.

He received surgical training at the University of Connecticut St. Francis Hospital, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

He joined the University of Alabama-Birmingham in 1996 and was named thoracic surgery division chief in 2002. He has published 40 book chapters and 150 peer-reviewed articles. He has given more than 400 lectures and presentations at international and national scientific meetings.

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Senior Content Writer

Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His specialty is interviewing top mesothelioma specialists and researchers, reporting the latest news at mesothelioma cancer centers and talking with survivors and caregivers.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at
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4 Cited Article Sources

The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.

  1. NYU Langone Health. (2017, May 8). NYU Langone Welcomes Renowned Thoracic Surgeon as Director of its New Lung Cancer Center. Retrieved from:
  2. Cardiothoracic Surgery Network. (2011). "Robert Cerfolio, M.D." Retrieved from:
  3. Diagnostic Cytopathology. (2008 Jan). "Endoscopic Ultrasound-guided Fine Needle Aspiration is Useful for Nodal Staging in Patients with Pleural Mesothelioma." Retrieved from:
  4. University of Alabama Birmingham. (2010). "Physician Profile – Robert J. Cerfolio, M.D." Retrieved from:

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Last Modified August 7, 2020

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