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Research Resident Spotlight-Simon Chu

How did you get interested in your research topic?

My interest in the field of genome editing dovetails with my passion for surgery as both disciplines allow me to think critically about problems and how to fix them, be it modifying the DNA code or mending tissues. I was amazed by the ability of genome editing and engineering to precisely alter specific genes, be it to cure disease-causing mutations or to impart new functions to cells. My current research focus applies these techniques in finding a cure for Alpha-thalassemia major, a rare blood disorder resulting from deletion of the alpha-globin gene, and in improving the safety and efficacy of stem-cell derived islet transplants.

How did you select your research mentorship team?

During my research time, I was really interested in linking up with surgeon-scientists and PhD scientists in the department that I felt were doing exciting and novel work. I am fortunate to have a mentorship team with Dr. Tippi MacKenzie and Dr. Kyle Cromer, who are both experts in the field of gene editing and offer me invaluable guidance and support. I have benefited greatly by having mentorship by both surgeons and PhD scientists, who have taught me the unique and varied skillset needed to be be a successful surgeon-scientist.

How will you incorporate your research into your future career goals?

My dream is to combine the fields of genome engineering and transplantation towards an independent career as a solid organ transplant surgeon-scientist. I see incredible opportunities in applying genome engineering technology in transplant surgery – from developing stem-cell derived beta cell therapies that could one day replace the need for pancreas transplants, to genetically engineering immune cells to impart precision immunosuppression and supplant the need for morbid immunosupressive agents, the sky’s really the limit!

Research Resident Spotlight-Simon Chu

First Annual Lawrence W. Way Lectureship

On Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the UCSF GRAND ROUNDS honored Larry Way. The lectureship featured speakers Carlos Pellegrini, MD Chair Emeritus, University of Washington, Department of Surgery and Past President of the American College of Surgeons.

Watch the recording here:


How did you get interested in your research topic? 

Medical and surgical training require a huge amount of effort and a very long time. I am interested in optimizing feedback and coaching in operative and simulation settings to make the training process as effective and efficient as possible. This has led me to pursue a Master’s in Education at UC Berkeley this year and to work on projects in surgical simulation, curriculum development, and assessment tool validation.

How did you select your research mentorship team? 

I have a truly spectacular group of mentors! Among my mentors, Dr. Chern and Dr. Syed lead our surgical skills lab and have invaluable insight on simulation-based education for surgical trainees. Dr. Alseidi is our Vice Chair of Education, and has fantastic ideas about designing meaningful, impactful educational research studies. Dr. O’Sullivan is our Endowed Chair in Surgical Education and has seemingly infinite wisdom about education in the health professions. I was connected with these mentors as an intern because of my interest in surgical education.

How will you incorporate your research into your future career goals? 

I hope to continue teaching and conducting education research throughout my career. Given the ever-changing landscape of surgery, I know there will always be a need to tweak and improve surgical training programs.

Riley and his colleagues: Natalie Rodriguez, Virginia Schuler & Hueylan Chern at the American College of Surgeons Surgical Simulation Summit in Chicago.

Hannah Decker-Resident of the Month

Hannah is a fourth year general surgery resident and a current research fellow in the National Clinician Scholar program.

How did you get interested in your research topic? 

My research focus is on how we might improve access to high quality surgical care in vulnerable populations, specifically those that are unhoused. Homelessness is such a huge problem in San Francisco and throughout residency I have had the opportunity to care for unhoused individuals. These experiences – and feeling like our systems were failing these patients – were what led me to focus on this area. 

How did you select your research mentorship team? 

I am lucky to have a phenomenal, multi-disciplinary mentorship team. It includes Dr. Elizabeth Wick, from the Department of Surgery, Dr. Margot Kushel, who leads the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative (BHHI), and Dr. Hemal Kanzaria, an emergency medicine physician at San Francisco general and a faculty member at the BHHI. I actually read a fantastic opinion piece about housing first policy by Dr. Kushel in the New York Times as an intern and was thrilled to learn she worked at UCSF. Dr. Wick helped me make the connection and build this wonderful, supportive mentorship team. 

How will you incorporate your research into your future career goals? 

In my future career, I hope to work in a safety-net setting and serve underserved patients. I want my research to be practical and impact-oriented so that I can directly apply what I study to what I practice. 

February Featured Member

Eileen Natuzzi, MD, MS, MPH, FACS

Dr. Eileen Natuzzi has worked on health capacity building in the Solomon islands for 18 years. The featured picture is of Dr. Natuzzi in South Africa circa 1989.

How you got interested in global surgery 

From the time I decided to go to medical school I knew I wanted to do international medical work. My first experience was as a 4th year medical student when I spent 2 months working in Soweto, South Africa at Baragwanath Hospital. It was an amazing experience in treating trauma and general surgery in a politically volatile and resource limited environment. When I graduated from UCSF general surgery I committed to regular working visits to hospitals in the Pacific Islands. I found myself drawn to Solomon Islands as one of the least developed countries in the Pacific Region. 

How you achieved that interest

For me, in order to achieve a global health career, I had to focus on one country in order to get to know that country and let them get to know me. That allowed for the building of trust and sharing information. Global surgery work for me was a growth from the initial fascination of seeing fantastic diseases and injuries to placing them within the context of the social and political environment of the country. It was not enough to go and do surgery, it had to be going and sustainably building capacity through skills transfer. 

Advice to Naffziger members who may want to pursue global surgery

Do not be afraid to approach other surgeons who are working in global surgery. Call and talk with us to see if the work is a fit for you. I highly recommend you develop a relationship with one country so you learn what is needed and what works or does not work. Learn the local language and become a fierce advocate for the people of that country. 

Ward rounds at National Referral Hospital (NRH) with the Cuban educated Solomon Islands doctors
Dr. Wore working in the newly established endoscopy unit
Dinner with the NRH endoscopy team

Lawrence W. Way MD (1933-2022)

We are deeply saddened to inform you that Lawrence W. Way MD (UCSF Naffziger 1967), Professor Emeritus of Surgery and longtime Member of the UCSF Surgery faculty passed away peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by family.

Dr. Way was one of the prime surgeons that propelled UCSF to its status as a world-class institution. He served in a diversity of leadership roles within the UCSF Department of Surgery and the medical community as Chief of the Blue Surgery Service, Director of the Laparoscopic Training Programs, and Professor of Surgery, to name a few. Dr. Way was also highly active on a national and international level in surgical organizations such as the American College of Surgeons and the International Society of Surgery. Dr. Way served as president of the Naffziger Society (2004-2005) and was the society’s Historian Emeritus. 
Initially educated on the East Coast, Dr. Way completed a Bachelor of Arts at Cornell University in 1955 before completing his Medical Doctorate at the University of Buffalo Medical School in 1959. He came to San Francisco to intern at UCSF that year, working through the ranks and completing residency training in 1967. Afterward, he conducted several years of research in gastrointestinal physiology at UCSF and UCLA as a fellow, culminating in being recruited as a faculty member to UCSF by his mentor Bert Dunphy, then chair of the department of surgery.
Early in his career, Dr. Way was the Editor-in-Chief of Current Surgical Diagnosis and Treatment, one of the primary surgical texts that educated residents and students worldwide in the era before the invention of the internet. Through this work, Dr. Way became probably the best-known American surgeon on the West Coast and was widely recognized for his broad surgical expertise and formidable editorial acumen. No contributor was spared from the red pen of Editor Way!
In the early 1990s, Dr. Way was one of a handful of general surgeons to embrace laparoscopic surgery as the future of American surgery and refocused his career around it. As many surgeons around the country were contemplating whether or not it was a fad, Dr. Way recognized it was the future. He led the UCSF faculty in the development of the laparoscopic surgical specialty. He organized the faculty into groups to figure out which procedures could be done laparoscopically; we then embarked on a system-wide process of inventing the field of laparoscopic surgery. He led the development of advanced techniques to perform laparoscopic fundoplication, hiatal hernia repair, Heller myotomy, splenectomy, liver resection, and biliary exploration. Many of the early papers came out of UCSF. This early innovation attracted patients from across the globe – at one point, UCSF received large numbers of patients from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East suffering from achalasia to have a laparoscopic Heller myotomy by Dr. Way and avoid open myotomy. These pioneering techniques live on to this day.
Dr. Way’s innovation in advanced laparoscopy fueled a robust fellowship training program, drawing fellows from around the country and international fellows from Japan. Dr. Way’s unremitting focus on how to best train surgeons is what made his mentorship elite. While he had done remarkable research and was the technical go-to surgeon in his chosen area, the development of the surgical fellows and house staff was always his top priority. A stern taskmaster on rounds and in the operating room, he set standards that several generations of UCSF-trained surgeons used as a benchmark for performance. Dr. Way was the last court for complex laparoscopic cases, and his clinics were models for being honest and understanding patients. In addition, Dr. Way constantly looked for avenues to better his students. In this arena, his interests ranged from the effects of fatigue and safety in the OR to teaching laparoscopic skills in the animal lab.
Dr. Way’s focus on optimizing the instruction of surgeons was not limited to the fellows and house staff. He was a pioneer in training mid-career surgeons in laparoscopic techniques. He developed a series of hands-on advanced videoscopic training courses with superbly organized lectures and labs that became justifiably famous and credited to UCSF nationally and internationally. Finally, Dr. Way was a proud UCSF historian who was part of the university through its ascent from a good regional medical school to a world-class institution.

ORLO H. CLARK M.D. (1941-2022)

We are profoundly saddened to announce the passing of Dr. Orlo Herrick Clark. Dr. Clark was a beloved member of the UCSF Surgery Family and an internationally renowned endocrine surgeon. He completed his general surgery residency at UCSF in 1973 and spent his entire faculty career as a member of the UCSF Department of Surgery. In 1991 he was named Chief of Surgery of the UCSF/Mt. Zion Medical Center. He was president of the Howard Naffziger Surgical Society from 1996 -1997.

Dr. Clark was one of the founding members of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons and was the recipient of countless awards and accolades throughout his career. Most importantly, however, he was a mentor and friend to so many, both at UCSF and around the world. A brief biography of Dr. Clark from his 2008 Festschrift can be found here. A video tribute to Dr. Clark when he was honored as one of the American College of Surgeons’ Icons in Surgery in 2016 can be found here.

The Clark Family has requested that donations in his memory be made to the Orlo Clark Lectureship fund.

Thomas Reed M.D. (1936-1922)

Thomas Reed, MD, (UCSF Naffziger 1971), a highly regarded retired surgeon and beloved husband, father and grandfather, died peacefully at home in Sebastopol, California on October 9. Tom lived an extraordinary life and was surrounded by family as he succumbed to the effects of Parkinson’s disease. 

Tom was born in Three Rivers, Michigan and was an athlete from a young age. He earned a baseball scholarship to Kalamazoo College and then spent 1 year at the the University of California Berkeley before returning home to attend the University of Michigan where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and was the proud graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School. 

Tom relocated to Northern California in the 1960’s to complete his surgical residency at UCSF in 1971. He served as a U.S. Army surgeon stationed in Germany. Dr. Reed joined Dr. David Fraser (UCSF Naffziger 1973) in practice in Santa Rosa. They were later joined by Loie Sauer (UCSF Naffziger 1988) following her fellowship in vascular surgery. Tom became a leading member of the Sonoma County medical community, specializing in vascular and general surgery. He served as the elected chief of surgery at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and was an early and skilled adopter of angioplasty. Tom was a respected member of the UCSF Naffziger Society, a medical society dedicated to excellence in surgery, and was a featured speaker in 2011 honoring Drs. William Blaisdell, Donald Trunkey, and Frank Lewis.

A celebration of life is planned for Sunday, November 13th from 4 to 7 p.m. at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa. The family welcomes donations to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. 

John Harold Hanson M. D. (1926-2022)

This is to inform you of the death of John Harold Hanson, MD, Class of 1954 at the age of 95, on September 23, 2022. He  completed the surgical residency program and was a member of the Naffziger Surgical Society and The Gold Headed Cane Society. After completing their residencies, he and his wife, Harriet B. Hanson, MD, Class of 1954 (Pediatrics), served as medical missionaries in northern Thailand from 1960 to 1970 under the United Presbyterian Church.

       In 1970, they moved to Fresno and practiced for 30 years. During that time and after retirement, they sent 100 sea containers of donated medical equipment and supplies to 60 hospitals in 22 third world countries. 

       He is survived by Harriet, his loving partner of 71 years, and three sons: Eric Carl Hanson MD, Orthopedic Surgeon; Mark Harold Sullivan Hanson PhD, Clinical Psychologist; Gordon Howard Hanson PhD, Professor of Economics at the Kennedy School of Harvard University; six grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.