April 18, 2019
Today we are turning the spotlight on Dr. Erik Wilson, director of the Division of Elective General Surgery in our Department of Surgery. Dr. Wilson is professor of surgery and the Lynn and Oscar Wyatt Chair in Metabolic Research.
What is MIST?
MIST stands for Minimally Invasive Surgeons of Texas, a UTHealth brand for surgeons who are dedicated to performing surgery with the smallest incisions possible to ensure the safest and most effective procedures.
MIST encompasses six sections of surgery based on organ systems: bariatrics, reflux, hernia, colorectal, breast/endocrine, and surgical oncology. Surgeons within these groups use technologies such as laparoscopy, robotics, flexible endoscopy, with smaller incisions than what others would use to produce excellent results and speed patient recovery times. The minimally invasive techniques are “the present and future of surgery.”
How has MIST changed over the years?
Our group of forward-thinking surgeons has grown from three to now over 30. Over the years, we’ve changed the way we think of our patients. In the past, surgeons performed surgery and “problem solved.” Now we see many of our patients over years– the course of their chronic disease. With obesity and reflux, for instance, we may care for patients over decades, treating these chronic disease states. We build long-term relationships with our patients and with our medical colleagues. We work with our patients to offer choices in their care. For example, we discuss both more aggressive approaches to bariatric surgery as well as an endoluminal procedure, where there is no incision at all, going through the mouth to reach the stomach to produce a shorter-term weight-loss result. We give the patient options and help them make the most appropriate personal decision.
What about research?
We help develop new devices and are involved in clinical-based research through FDA and other trials involving new devices and procedures. We are working in partnership with other departments on research and considering more basic science opportunities.
How are you preparing the next generation in this specialty?
We have one of the largest fellowship programs in the country, with 12 fellows dedicated to minimally invasive approaches in colorectal surgery, bariatrics, reflux, hernia, and medical weight loss. In partnership with Memorial Hermann, we have established the Surgical Innovation and Robotics Institute, which includes nine robots as well as other devices for training, research, and development. There we train physicians, nurses, and staff from around the world on the latest technologies for minimally invasive techniques. Last month we hosted our annual Surgical Disruptive Technology Summit, which draws about 200 colleagues from across the country to learn the latest technologies to improve patient outcomes.
What is the future for MIST?
We hope to continue to grow and specialize our clinical offerings. Currently, we have four bariatric clinics and six colorectal clinics throughout the Greater Houston area. We plan to use this same approach to create hernia and reflux centers. We are also working collaboratively with other clinical specialties, such as gastroenterology, to grow programs together.
Please join me in thanking Dr. Wilson for his leadership and innovation. The advancements that he and his colleagues are bringing to the field are helping countless patients live healthier lives.
P.S. Congratulations to Dr. Kunal Sharma, assistant professor of emergency medicine, for winning the 2019 Think Innovation Transformation Award last week at the 5th Annual Harris Health System Innovation Summit.