Dr. Harvey Pass

Dr. Harvey Pass

Thoracic Surgeon

Dr. Harvey Pass is a well-known thoracic and cardiac surgeon. With over 500 publications to his name, he is at the forefront of new diagnosis and treatment methods for mesothelioma. This includes his research on immunochemotherapy, which he pioneered as a treatment method for mesothelioma.

  • Procedure Immunochemotherapy
  • NYU Langone Health 160 East 34th Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10016

Get a Free Mesothelioma Guide

About Dr. Harvey Pass

Dr. Harvey has been in practice as a thoracic and cardiac surgeon for more than 20 years.

He currently works at the NYU Langone Medical Center in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery as the Stephen E. Banner Professor of Thoracic Oncology. He is also the Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and a professor in their surgery department.

In addition to seeing patients and teaching future thoracic oncologists, Dr. Pass spends time researching new treatment methods, writing about his studies and editing the works of fellow researchers.


Dr. Harvey Pass has received many prestigious awards over the years including:

  • National Institutes of Health Directors Award
  • Wagner Medallion
  • Landon Research Award
  • Mesothelioma Foundation’s Pioneer Award
  • International Association for Lung Cancer Merit Award

He also has won several consecutive top doctors awards, including:

  • Top Doctors: New York Metro Area award
  • New York Magazine: Top Doctors award
  • America’s Top Doctors for Cancer award
  • America’s Top Doctors award


Dr. Harvey Pass is currently one of the editors for the academic journal Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, which is written for the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.

Although the association’s name says American, it’s actually an international organization made up of more than 1,300 cardiothoracic surgeons from 41 different countries.

On top of being an editor for Seminars in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Dr. Pass has authored and co-authored more than 500 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has also edited a variety of books including Lung Cancer: Principles and Practice and IASLC Thoracic Oncology.

Dr. Harvey Pass co-authored ‘100 Questions & Answers About Mesothelioma’ — a renowned book combining medical and patient perspectives.

It guides patients and families through mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment, covering standard treatments and side effects, available support resources, quality of life expectations, legal rights and how to talk about a diagnosis with friends and family.

As shown by the number of publications he has, Dr. Pass is an avid researcher, which is part of the reason he helped found the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF).

Throughout his career, he has actively researched pleural mesothelioma and novel treatments. In fact, he has been credited with being one of the first to use immunochemotherapy as a treatment for mesothelioma.


Dr. Harvey Pass received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University Duke Medical School, where he graduated as a Phi Beta Kappa in 1973.

Upon graduation, he served on Staten Island at the United States Public Health Service Hospital for 2 years as a Lieutenant Commander in the commissioned corps.

He completed his general surgery residency at the University of Mississippi. He then completed another residency in cardiothoracic surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina. During his time at the Medical University of South Carolina, he also worked as an assistant professor.

After becoming certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery in 1983, he did a Cardiothoracic Surgery fellowship at the National Institute of Health (NIH).

While at the NIH, he became Chief of Thoracic Oncology for the Surgery Branch for the National Cancer Institute. Once he finished working for NIH, he went to the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, Michigan.

Medical Specializations

As a cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Pass specializes in treating diseases that affect the chest like pleural mesothelioma.

While he is continually trying to find new diagnosis and treatment methods, like using biomarkers, he is also known for treating mesothelioma with photodynamic therapy and immunochemotherapy.


Dr. Pass’s current research is focused on blood-based biomarkers.

Dr. Pass heads the Early Detection Research Network: Biomarker Developmental Laboratory, which researches how blood-based biomarkers can be tested to diagnose chest cancers and predict the disease outcome more accurately.

Some of the biomarkers that Dr. Pass works with to detect mesothelioma are osteopontin and Fibulin 3.


Studies have shown that patients who have pleural mesothelioma also have higher levels of osteopontin. This means doctors can check individuals who have been exposed to asbestos for increased osteopontin to determine if they have mesothelioma.

Furthermore, checking for increased levels of osteopontin is reasonably straightforward and cost-effective because it is part of the body’s plasma, meaning doctors only have to do a blood test.

Fibulin 3

Another biomarker that Dr. Pass studies is Fibulin 3. At this moment, this biomarker is the most accurate blood-based biomarker for detecting and diagnosing mesothelioma.

Depending on how much Fibulin 3 is present in the patient’s blood, doctors are able to determine whether a patient has an effusion (fluid buildup) in the lining of the chest and lungs.

The test tells them whether the effusion is benign (non-cancerous), mesothelioma, a malignant effusion that isn’t mesothelioma, or if they were exposed to asbestos in the past.

Did You Know?

Because biomarker blood tests are so simple to administer, more individuals who were exposed to asbestos can be screened for mesothelioma.

Like many cancers, the earlier a patient is diagnosed, the earlier they can begin treatment leading to a better prognosis.

Photodynamic therapy

Dr. Pass also uses photodynamic therapy to treat thoracic cancers and pleural mesothelioma. In fact, he was one of the first surgeons to do so.

In photodynamic therapy, the doctor injects the patient with a special drug called a photosensitizer. This drug reacts to a specific type of wavelength and creates an active form of oxygen that’s deadly to the surrounding cells.

Because the photosensitizer survives for more time in cancer cells than it does in healthy cells, the therapy targets only the tumor. This means that patients can suffer fewer side effects due to minimal damage to healthy tissues.


In addition to his work with photodynamic therapy, Dr. Pass was also one of the first surgeons to treat mesothelioma with immunochemotherapy.

Immunochemotherapy combines immunotherapy — which stimulates the body’s immune system to attack the cancer cells — with chemotherapy drugs that kill tumors by attacking their rapidly dividing cells.

Getting Specialized Mesothelioma Treatment

Dr. Pass believes that the best way to improve a patient’s quality of life is by choosing minimally invasive techniques like photodynamic therapy and immunochemotherapy. If the situation allows for it, he and his team will select those treatments over ones like surgery.

Like many mesothelioma specialists, Dr. Pass works with a larger team consisting of doctors, radiologists, nurses, and others to treat the disease.

While such comprehensive treatment can take longer, patients who work with Dr. Pass will discover that they can meet multiple members of their care team on the same day.

For more information on working with Dr. Harvey Pass and undergoing novel mesothelioma therapies, contact the Justice Support Team today.

Call us at (888) 360-4215 or receive our Mesothelioma Justice Guide for more helpful information.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

View 4 Sources
  1. MUSC. “About Harvey Pass.” Retrieved from: http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/surgery/education/research-day/pass.html. Accessed July 7, 2018.
  2. National Cancer Institute. “Photodynamic Therapy for Cancer.” Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/mesothelioma-treatment/types/surgery/photodynamic-fact-sheet. Accessed July 11, 2018.
  3. NYU Langone Health. “Harvey I. Pass, MD.” Retrieved from: https://nyulangone.org/doctors/1104826460/harvey-i-pass. Accessed July 7, 2018.
  4. U.S. News. “Dr. Harvey Pass.” Retrieved from: https://health.usnews.com/doctors/harvey-pass-10125. Accessed July 7, 2018.
Back to Top