Message from the Chairman

The Department of Surgery continues to thrive in numerous areas of our core mission. As previously stated, the medical school mission is “to educate a diverse body of future physicians and biomedical scientists for a career dedicated to the highest ideals of their profession; to provide outstanding patient-centered care; and to conduct innovative research that benefits the health and well-being of the population of Texas and beyond”. As evidenced by the accomplishments outlined in this newsletter, despite financial challenges, our faculty continue to develop and advance new clinical programs, to train outstanding clinical and academic surgeons, and to perform innovative research. To better outline our accomplishments, the department will publish a quarterly newsletter, titled “SurgeON” which will be edited by Dr. Lillian S. Kao, Division Chief of Acute Care Surgery. Acute Care Surgery includes trauma, emergency general surgery, burns and critical care. Dr. Kao is also vice chair for quality and runs a busy and productive division.

Part of that effort includes the Center for Translation Injury Research (CeTIR) lead by Dr. Charles Wade. This continues to facilitate industry and investigator-initiated single and multi-center projects. Several faculty have recently completed or are completing randomized trials funded by career development awards from the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences. Dr. Mike Liang completed a trial of prehabilitation versus usual care among obese patients seeking elective ventral hernia repair at LBJGH, and the results of his trial were presented at the American Surgical Association meeting. Dr. John Harvin has been randomizing patients undergoing emergent trauma laparotomy to definitive closure or damage control laparotomy. Many of our residents are engaged in high-quality research projects, as well as being concurrently enrolled in a Master’s Degree Program in Clinical Research. Dr. James Cross who has been our chief of burn surgery will be leaving this month and we are in the process of starting a search for a new chief of burns.

The Minimally Invasive Surgeons of Texas, led by Dr. Erik B. Wilson are busy at multiple sites across the greater Houston area. Recently the colorectal group added Jeffrey Van Eps, MD, a new faculty member with a strong interest in research as well. Dr. Cole Cowling has taken a position at Memorial Hermann Hospital Southeast as part of our MIST group. At the present time, we have about 80 faculty spread out over the community as well as over 80 residents and 21 fellows in 8 fellowships. We are located in 29 hospital locations which include surgery centers and we have 25 clinic front doors throughout the city. Clinic visits numbered over 80,000 and we have had over 3½ million dollars in research expenditures.

Our goals for the upcoming year are to recruit a new chief for the Division of Plastic Surgery as well as expand our footprint in plastic surgery to several other Memorial Hermann Hospitals. From an education standpoint, Dr. Sasha Adams has done a tremendous job with the residency program and we are now at the beginning of the interview season. She has encouraged many of our own students, many particularly women to apply for our program. We also have Dr. Ethan Taub as our clerkship director and he is working very hard to improve our interaction with medical students rotating during the 3rd and 4th year. The department continues to grow and we are stressing the importance of education and research as well as providing excellence in clinical care.