Michael S. Mulligan, MD

Michael S. Mulligan, MD
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Michael S. Mulligan, MD

  • Physician, Fred Hutch
  • Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Washington School of Medicine
  • Director, Lung Transplant Program, Advanced Lung Disease Surgery Program, Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Program, UW Medicine


“I do my best for every patient, treating you the way I’d like myself or my family to be treated and doing everything I can to improve your life.”

— Dr. Mulligan

How did you decide to go into surgery?

I was a competitive athlete for years, until a series of injuries ended my college athletic career. At first, I wasn’t sure where to channel the drive that had helped me to excel at sports. I stayed physically active and studied health and wellness, nutrition and exercise as an undergraduate. Then my family doctor pointed me toward medicine, and I haven’t looked back. I had written a thesis on the evolving role of holistic medicine in a world of rapidly changing technology, and the doctor said to me, “If you really want to make a difference, get an MD and bring that holistic sensibility to it.” Once I started medical school, professors and mentors steered me toward thoracic surgery, and I have a passion for it. You have to be passionate about what you do. You can be good it, but if you aren’t passionate about it, you can’t bring the same level of care to your patients.

Why is video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) used?

VATS segmentectomy allows me to perform chest surgery through a series of small incisions; a camera inserted through one incision guides my work. This procedure is much less invasive than traditional open-chest surgery. Patients who undergo VATS spend less time in the hospital, need less pain medication and recover much faster. This option is important because I don’t just want to help you survive — I want you to live and enjoy as much physical capacity as possible. If you enjoy athletics or just being active, we need to try to preserve your muscular and skeletal integrity.

Provider Background

Specialty: Surgery

Area of clinical practice

Thoracic cancers

Lung cancer and cardiothoracic surgery

Clinically, I focus on lung transplantation and lung volume reduction surgery. I regularly perform a range of lung cancer resections and am a national expert in robotic thymectomy, thoracoscopic lobectomy and video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) segmentectomy. I also lead regional and national courses on the subject and run a research laboratory funded by the National Institutes of Health. My research at UW focuses on acute and chronic rejection and tissue injury associated with lung transplantation. At UW, I also enjoy teaching and have received numerous teaching awards, including the John K. Stevenson Award for excellence in resident education and the McGoon Award, given to a cardiothoracic surgeon who exemplifies outstanding teaching and mentorship in the United States. I am among the youngest members ever elected to the American Surgical Association and am proud to be considered a leader in cardiothoracic surgery.

Diseases Treated



Education, Experience and Certifications

Undergraduate Degree
Tufts University

Medical Degree
University of Connecticut School of Medicine

University of Michigan, Thoracic Surgery; Presbyterian Hospital, General Surgery

University of Michigan, General Thoracic Surgery, Thoracic Transplantation, Pathology

Board Certification
Surgery, 1996, American Board of Surgery; Thoracic Surgery, 1999, American Board of Thoracic Surgery

University of Michigan, Department of Thoracic Surgery, Teaching Appointment; Wayne State University, Internship, General Surgery


Seattle Met's 2023 Top Doctors award
Dr. Mulligan has received this peer-nominated award for exceptional patient care for multiple years.

Seattle Magazine's 2022 Top Doctors award
Dr. Muligan has been recognized as a Top Doctor in this peer-nominated award multiple years in a row.

Clinical Trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by Fred Hutch doctors. Many of these trials at Fred Hutch have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.

Find a Clinical Trial


Many of our Fred Hutch doctors conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other doctors and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this Fred Hutch provider has written.

View Dr. Mulligan's Publications

Your Care Team

At Fred Hutch, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a patient care coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.


Fred Hutch accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.

For the Media

The Media Relations team at Fred Hutch is available to assist members of the news media who would like to arrange interviews with providers.

Email media@fredhutch.org or call 206.667.2210