David Huang, MD

FMA Member Physician highlight

David Huang, MD, receives 2024 I.B. Harrison, MD Humanitarian Award

By Shannon Boyle, Capital Medical Society Communications and Event Coordinator

The Capital Medical Society is pleased to announce David Huang, MD, as the recipient of its 2024 I.B. Harrison, MD Humanitarian Award. This award is presented each year to a physician who demonstrates dedication to humanitarian values associated with the late Dr. Harrison, including compassion, service, respect, wisdom, and integrity.

Dr. Huang, an FMA member who practices with Tallahassee Pulmonary Clinic (TPC), is board-certified in internal medicine, pulmonary medicine, critical care medicine, and sleep medicine. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, he moved to the United States at age four with his family, and they eventually found their long-term home in Plant City. Upon high school graduation, Dr. Huang traveled 140 miles north to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida. There, he earned his undergraduate degree in 1982 and his medical degree in 1985. He was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and to this day strives to live by the society's motto, “Be worthy to serve the suffering.”

In medical school, Dr. Huang met his first set of role models in medicine who guided his path to the pulmonary and critical care specialties. His exemplars at UF were Jay Block, MD, former chief of the UF College of Medicine’s division of pulmonary and critical care medicine, Eloise Harman, MD, a pulmonologist and critical care medicine specialist, Ocie Harris, MD, a UF College of Medicine professor who later served as dean of the Florida State University College of Medicine, and Gene Ryerson, MD, a professor of pulmonary medicine at UF. With the positive influence from these leaders, Dr. Huang completed an internal medicine internship and residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. He subsequently completed a fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at UF in 1992.

After fellowship, he moved to Tallahassee to join TPC. Dr. Huang was the fifth physician to join the group. His early TPC partners and next set of role models in medicine were Clifton “Bud” Bailey, MD, J. Daniel “Dan” Davis, MD, F. Ray Dolly, MD, and Ken Wasson, MD. Dr. Huang credits his early partners for his professional growth and development.

As medicine has evolved, Dr. Huang continues to elevate his craft by learning about new equipment and procedures. This open-minded and hardworking mindset allows patients in the Tallahassee area to get the latest procedures without having to travel to specialized medical centers. When he joined TPC, he used the latest video bronchoscope equipment. Later, he used the cardiopulmonary exercise testing, a metabolic exercise test that evaluates the heart and lungs and can diagnose unexplained shortness of breath. To improve the treatment of pulmonary embolism in his community, Dr. Huang has served on the Anticoagulation Subcommittee at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) and the Pulmonary Embolism Response Team (PERT) to help develop protocols for massive and submassive pulmonary emboli. This has helped streamline and clarify treatment plans for patients regarding the need for advanced interventional cardiac procedures, such as Ekosonic Endovascular System (EKOS) or thrombectomies.

Since the start of his career, Dr. Huang has had a particular interest in obstructive sleep apnea and sleep disorders, as well as a passion for improving the practice of sleep medicine locally. With the encouragement of his practice partner John Thabes, MD, and Tallahassee neurologist George Slade, MD, Dr. Huang earned his board certification in sleep medicine in 1999. Soon after, Dr. Bailey created HealthSouth Sleep Disorders Center of Tallahassee, where Dr. Huang served as medical director until its closure in 2007.

There was still a strong need for a large sleep medicine facility in Tallahassee. Dr. Huang, along with others, helped develop the Tallahassee Memorial Sleep Center in 2009 and served as its medical director until 2019. He was pivotal in creating protocols needed for the facility and assisted in the accreditation and re-accreditation processes. He pioneered and advanced the sleep medicine subspecialty by hosting annual sleep symposiums, allowing many providers from all backgrounds to learn about sleep medicine. He extends his knowledge and passion outside of the healthcare community to give numerous lectures at Premier Health & Fitness Center, the Senior Center, Westminster Oaks, and other organizations.

Dr. Huang strongly believes that all patients should receive the primary palliative care they need, and that starts with educating and training healthcare professionals on end-of-life care. He immersed himself in the Education for Physicians on End-of-Life Care (EPEC) project, developed by the American Medical Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. EPEC provides a core curriculum of basic knowledge and skills needed to appropriately care for dying patients. Once Dr. Huang completed the curriculum, he was able to skillfully educate and train his colleagues. In his own words, “Learning about end-of-life care is just as important as any other part of medicine.”

Dr. Huang’s friend and former practice partner Dr. Dolly said it best: “He has the compassion, skill, intellect, and determination to administer the right medical care, even when it is difficult.”

In addition to his clinical responsibilities, Dr. Huang regularly supervises residents in their rotations through the ICU at TMH and serves on the hospital’s Clinical Ethics Committee. He is also on the clerkship faculty at the FSU College of Medicine (FSU COM) Internal Medicine Residency Program at TMH, and on Clerkship Faculty at the FSU COM Tallahassee Regional Campus. Furthermore, he has published several articles in specialty journals, including the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

To Dr. Huang, the meaning of a successful life can be summed up by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, “To Laugh Often and Much:”

“What is success? To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

Dr. Huang and his wife of 30 years, Brenda, are proud parents to four adult children. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, and playing tennis and pickleball. In fact, Dr. Huang plays in a Saturday morning pickleball group with Tallahassee psychiatrist Faisal Munasifi, MD, last year’s I.B. Harrison, MD Humanitarian Award recipient. Dr. Huang stated, “It’s my therapy!”

Dr. Huang tries to live every day by the values Dr. I.B. Harrison personified. He is known for his compassionate care and respect for his patients, his service to the practice of medicine, and his wisdom and integrity that inspire his fellow physicians. He is a humanitarian in every sense of the word.