Skip to content
Several pictures of doctors who are featured on the Local Legends web site

MEET LOCAL LEGEND: Susan Pingleton, M.D.

Picture of Susan Pingleton
Scrapbook not available

Susan Pingleton, M.D.

“When I was a child, I had open-heart surgery followed by complications. I was in the hospital for nearly four months, and the thing I remember most is all those people trying to help me. I decided then I'd try to pay them back by helping others like me”


Pat Roberts



Susan Pingleton knows what it is like to face open heart surgery, and that knowledge has shaped her approach to medicine and her medical specialty-pulmonary critical care. At the age of 10, in 1956 before the widespread use of the heart lung machine, she underwent open-heart surgery in Denver to repair an atrial septal defect. In those early days on the frontiers of heart surgery there were as many fatalities as successes, but she was fortunate. Her surgery was a success, and not only saved her life, but started her down a path that has brought her renown and honors in pulmonary critical care and medical education.

As Chair of Internal Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Susan Pingleton has been a leading contributor to medical education at Kansas Medical School where she serves as Chair of the Faculty Council, a member of the University's Physicians Board of Trustees and of the Executive Medical Staff. She also serves as director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit, and is a member of the Graduate Medical Education Committee.

Nominated by Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan), Susan Pingleton was born in Wilson, Kansas and received her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Kansas. In 1972, when she earned her MD, she was "one of 5 or 6 women in a class of 140 in medical school. The whole era was so different-women were not actively encouraged to go into medicine back then."

She began her career with an internship, residency and fellowship training at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She served as a professor of medicine and head of the division of pulmonary disease at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, before returning to the University of Kansas in 1982 to become director of clinical investigations in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine as well as an associate professor of medicine. She is widely published and serves as a reviewer on several medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.

She has served as President of the American College of Chest Physicians, only the second woman to serves as president of the organization. That experience was particularly rewarding as she traveled internationally and met and worked with outstanding physicians. "I grew immensely that year," she recalled of her one-year tenure as president of the organization in 1999.

Susan Pingleton brings a passion for teaching advanced medical care to medical students, residents, and fellows in pulmonary medicine, and she continues her advocacy role on state and national medical issues. She is currently involved in critical care of patients with end-stage pulmonary disease and in teaching future pulmonary physicians ways improving the delivery of health care.



Docent and Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine


Appointed Director, Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, University of Kansas Medical Center


Elected President, American College of Chest Physicians


Appointed Chair, Internal Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center




University of Kansas School of Medicine


Pulmonary Critical Care and Internal Medicine

Sub Specialty

Medical Education and Academic Medicine