David B. Nelson, M.D.

David B. Nelson, M.D.

  • Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery
  • General Thoracic Surgery
  • Complex Lung, Esophageal, Chest Wall, and Mediastinal Malignancies


David Nelson, M.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He specializes in thoracic surgery and minimally invasive surgery.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in molecular biology at Vanderbilt University with summa cum laude honors, Dr. Nelson earned his medical degree at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He completed a clinical residency in general surgery at Loma Linda University Health and a research fellowship and cardiothoracic surgery fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. While in fellowship training, he was on the winning team of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Masters Showdown competition, which was an international competition. He was also a semifinalist in the European Master Cup competition for the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

He also earned a master’s degree in clinical research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. As part of his master’s thesis defense, he wrote and designed a trial investigating a novel ablation device to treat lung malignancies, which is currently being funded and enrolling patients at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Board certified in cardiothoracic surgery, he joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 2023.

Dr. Nelson is a member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He serves on the editorial board for Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and is an ad-hoc reviewer for other thoracic surgery journals.

Dr. Nelson has a special interest in minimally invasive surgery and innovation in thoracic surgery. As part of a team effort with other health care providers, Dr. Nelson’s practice includes the multidisciplinary management of benign and malignant disorders of the lung, esophagus, foregut, pleural space, mediastinum, diaphragm, and trachea.

He has delivered numerous presentations both nationally and abroad, contributed to several book chapters on thoracic surgery, and remains active in research in thoracic surgery.

Personal Note

When he’s not at work, Dr. Nelson enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, going to baseball games, and being involved in his children’s sports activities. He was recently the assistant coach for his son's baseball team. He is also an avid runner and was on the varsity crew team in college.

Education & Training
  • Other Post Graduate Training - University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (2021-2023)
  • Residency - Loma Linda University Medical Center
  • Clinical Research Fellowship - University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Graduate School - University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • Internship - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Medical School - Northwestern Univ.-Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Undergraduate School - Vanderbilt University
Professional Associations & Affiliations
  • American College of Surgeons
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Honors & Awards
  • Semifinalist, Post-Graduate Symposium Master Cup 2023, European Society of Thoracic Surgeons, 30th Annual Meeting
  • Winner, Cardiothoracic Surgery Masters Showdown 2023, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, 59th Annual Meeting
  • Winner, Surgical Jeopardy 2018, Southern California Chapter American College of Surgeons
  • Robotics Fellowship Award 2023, American Association for Thoracic Surgery
Books & Publications
  • Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS)
  • Thoracic surgery
  • Minimally invasive and robotic surgery
  • Lung cancer molecular mutations
  • Lung cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection
  • Thymic disease
  • Chest wall malignancies
  • Neoadjuvant therapy

Clinical Focus

  • General Thoracic Surgery
  • Complex Lung, Esophageal, Chest Wall, and Mediastinal Malignancies
  • Robotic Surgery
  • Esophageal Reflux Disease
  • Pulmonary Nodules
  • Esophageal Perforation

See More