Center for Surgical Trials and Evidence-based Practice (C-STEP)

The Center for Surgical Trials and Evidence-based Practice (C-STEP) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) is a multi-disciplinary program designed to advance evidence-based practice in surgery by providing young faculty and surgical trainees with formal training in clinical research, mentorship, resources, and funding to perform high quality research.

The goals of C-STEP are:

  • To foster and develop surgical faculty, staff, and trainees (including medical students) interested in clinical research.
  • To advance the surgical evidence base and its application in clinical practice.

C-STEP provides program to medical students, surgical residents, and young surgical faculty including:

  • Fellowship in Clinical Research
  • Advanced Degree Programs
  • Focused Research in Surgery for Medical Students
  • Clinical Research Lecture Series
  • Clinical Research Roundtables
  • Pilot Grant Programs
  • Surgical Journal Club
  • Clinical Research Symposia
  • Research Network


Fellowship in Clinical Research

The C-STEP Clinical Research Fellowship is accepting beginning July 1, 2021. The 2-year program is established for surgical residents interested in a career in academic clinical research with a focus in pediatric surgery. Fellows will obtain a Master’s Degree in a Clinical Research established by the Center for Evidenced-based Medicine and Clinical Research at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. The Master’s program curriculum focuses on training clinical investigators in designing and conducting patient-oriented research of high quality. In addition to the educational foundation, fellows will work with established faculty mentors with advanced degrees in clinical research to develop expertise in the scientific research process. This would include identifying key problems in pediatric surgery, gathering and analyzing the current evidence and literature, and developing/implementing a clinical research study. In addition, fellows will work with mentors to learn the mechanisms of becoming a funded clinical researcher. Applicants should have completed the PGY-2 year of an ACGME-accredited general surgery residency program by the start of the fellowship. Pay and benefits will commensurate with NIH guidelines for PGY level.

Please visit the Center for Clinical Research and Evidenced-Based Medicine for more information regarding the Master’s Degree in Clinical Research.

To see a list of selected C-STEP publications, click here.


Summer Research Program

Lecture Series in Clinical Surgical Research

Every summer, the surgery and pediatric surgery faculty have MS-1 students work with them through the NIH-funded Summer Research Program offered through the medical school. Through C-STEP, we plan to augment the summer research program’s seminar series by providing a 9-week series on clinical research with a surgical focus. All students are welcome to attend. Due to COVID-19, the lectures will be held at 2:00pm on Thursdays via WebEx.

2021 Lecture Schedule

June 3 – Developing a research hypothesis – what is a PICO question, and how to develop one? (Lecturer: John Harvin)

June 10 – Now that I have question, how do I do a literature search? (Lecturer: Travis Holder & Emma Silva)

June 17 – How do I appraise the literature? (Lecturer: Mary Austin)

June 24 – Rescheduled to July 8 at 3:00pm


2-3pm – Translational Research (Lecturer: Matthew Harting)
3-4pm – What study design should I use? (Lecturer: Curtis Wray)

July 15 – Now that I have results, how do I write an abstract and make a poster presentation? (Lecturer: Linda Li)

2-3pm – How do I give a presentation? (Lecturer: Akemi Kawaguchi)
3-4pm – What basic statistics do I need to know? (Lecturer: Lillian Kao)

July 29 – Student Quick Shots (1)

August 5 – Student Quick Shots (2)


Our Residents

 NameGraduation YearUndergraduate DegreeDoctor of MedicineResidencyFaculty Mentor
Erin M. Corsini, MD2020Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MAAlbany Medical College, Albany, NYGeneral Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TXMara B. Antonoff, MD
Wayne L. Hofstetter, MD
Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery
Dalya Ferguson, MD2020University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TXMcGovern Medical School at UTHealth
Houston, TX
General Surgery
McGovern Medical School at UTHealth
Houston, TX
KuoJen Tsao, MD
Pediatric Surgery
Gabrielle Hatton, MD2020University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MINew York Medical College, Valhalla, NYGeneral Surgery
McGovern Medical School at UTHealth
Houston, TX
Lillian Kao, MD
Oscar A. Olavarria, MD2020Unidad Educativa Colegio Champagnat, Caracas, VenezuelaUniversidad Central de Venezuela, School of Medicine “Luis Razetti”, Caracas, VenezuelaGeneral Surgery
McGovern Medical School at UTHealth
Houston, TX
Mike Liang, MD
Minimally Invasive Surgery
Seyed Arshia Arshad, MD2021The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TXDoctor of Medicine
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Bryan, TX
General Surgery
The University of New Mexico School of Medicine
Albuquerque, NM
KuoJen Tsao, MD
Pediatric Surgery
Naila Dhanani, MD2021Texas A&M University, Bryan, TXDoctor of Medicine
Texas A&M Health Science Center, Bryan, TX
General Surgery
McGovern Medical School at UTHealth
Houston, TX
Mike Liang, MD
General Surgery
Kayla Isbell, MD2021University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, ALUniversity of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham, ALGeneral Surgery
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Lillian Kao, MD
Nicolas Zhou, DO2021University of Colorado, Boulder, CODO - Midwestern University, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Glendale, AZGeneral Surgery
McGovern Medical School at UTHealth
Houston, TX
Wayne Hofstetter, MD
Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery



Lillian S. Kao, MD, MS (Co-Director)General Surgery and Critical Care Surgery
Kevin P. Lally, MD, MS (Co-Director)Pediatric Surgery
Mary Austin, MD, MPHPediatric Surgery
Marty Blakely, MD, MSPediatric Surgery
George Chang, MD, MSSurgical Oncology
Bryan Cotton, MD, MPHAcute Care Surgery
Charles S. Cox, Jr., MDPediatric Surgery
Clara Fowler, Sr. LibrarianLiterature Appraisal
Maureen Goode, PhDCCTS
Matthew Greives, MD, MSPediatric Plastic & Craniofacial Surgery
Matthew T. Harting, MDPediatric Surgery
Akemi Kawaguchi, MDPediatric Surgery
Kathleen Kennedy, MD, MPH (Program Advisor)Neonatology, MS in Clinical Research Program
Pam Lally, MDPediatrics, Database Design
Charles C. Miller III, PhDEpidemiology, CV Surgery
Eric Thomas, MD, MPHInternal Medicine, Health Quality and Safety
KuoJen Tsao, MDPediatric Surgery
Jon Tyson, MD, MPH (Program Advisor)Neonatology, Center for Clinical Research and EBM
Curtis Wray, MDSurgical Oncology


Contact Us:

For more information regarding C-STEP and its fellowship programs, please contact:
KuoJen Tsao, MD
Lillian Kao, MD, MS