URMC Recruits 6 New Faculty to Department of Surgery

Strong focus on cardiovascular disease, cancer, esophageal surgery among specialties

September 10, 2008

The University of Rochester Medical Center’s Department of Surgery welcomes six new, high-profile surgeons to its growing faculty, bringing essential surgical expertise services to the Rochester region. Their specialties range from colorectal surgery and surgical oncology, to vascular, thoracic and plastic surgery, cutting across and further strengthening the main priorities of the Medical Center’s 2007-2012 Strategic Plan.

“I am proud to welcome our new surgical faculty,” said Jeffrey H. Peters, M.D., Seymour I. Schwartz Professor and chair of the URMC Department of Surgery. “As surgical specialists and researchers, they are a perfect strategic fit that will allow us to realize the vision the Medical Center has set forth.”

The Department of Surgery is growing at a rapid pace. Over the past four years, the number of clinicians and researchers has increased from 34 to nearly 60, providing the most comprehensive surgical care available in upstate New York. Surgeons performed 11,500 operating room cases over the past year. Among the specialties developed within the department are the Artificial Heart Program, part of the Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation; gastrointestinal cancers, including stomach, intestinal and pancreatic cancers; the largest bariatrics program in the region, and one of the largest solid organ transplant programs in the Northeast.

The following surgical specialists have joined the faculty:

John R.T. Monson, M.D., a world leader in colorectal surgery and one of the most productive translational and clinical surgical scholars in the United Kingdom, joins the Medical Center as chief of the Division of Colorectal Surgery and vice chair of the Department of Surgery. Monson was previously head of surgery at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom.

Monson specializes in minimally invasive and laparoscopic techniques for colorectal surgeries, including cancers. He has an interest in transanal resection of rectal cancer and has presented results of clinical trials of the technique at North American meetings. He will work closely with surgeons and oncologists at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center.

He is an honorary fellow of the Society of University Surgeons, one of the most prestigious academic surgical societies in the United States, as well as a fellow of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. A graduate of the University of Dublin Trinity College, he completed his medical and surgical internships in Dublin.

David Lawrence Gillespie, M.D., F.AC.S., R.V.T., D.M.C.C., has been appointed professor in the Division of Vascular Surgery. Gillespie is a nationally known cardiovascular specialist and former chief of Vascular Surgery for the U.S. Army who has been overseeing vascular surgery in Iraq. He has chosen to continue his clinical and research career in Rochester as he retires after 23 years of dedicated military service.

He most recently served as chief and program director of Vascular Surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; and chief of Vascular Surgery at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine in Bethesda, Md. He also is a vascular surgery consultant with the Office of the Surgeon General.

In addition to his clinical expertise, Gillespie is a well established and senior clinical and basic science researcher. His research interests have been directed toward chronic venous disease, most notably cellular and molecular functioning within chronic ulceration.

Gillespie earned his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine. He completed an internship at Letterman Army Medical Center, San Francisco; a surgical residency at Boston University Medical Center; and a fellowship at Boston University Medical Center where he served as the Reginald Smithwick Fellow in Vascular Surgery. His undergraduate work was done at Washington State University.

Virginia Litle, M.D., has been appointed associate professor in the Division of Thoracic Surgery. Her clinical expertise includes pushing the frontiers of minimally invasive thoracic surgery, such as laparoscopic esophagectomy. Additionally, she is well-respected for her active research work in the areas of lung and esophageal cancer, which includes funding from the National Cancer Institute to investigate micro RNA expression in esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Litle graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and the Brown Dartmouth Program in Medicine. She completed her surgical training at the prestigious UCSF Department of Surgery, where she worked in the Division of Molecular Cytometry and the Gastrointestinal Research Laboratory. She accepted a fellowship in surgical oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center after completing her second research fellowship, followed by a fellowship in thoracic and minimally invasive surgery. She then matriculated into cardiothoracic surgical residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Following her cardiothoracic residency, Litle was appointed assistant professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine where she has built an active clinical practice, has obtained federal grant funding and maintains an active laboratory.

Tony E. Godfrey, Ph.D., has been appointed interim associate professor in the Department of Surgery, with a forthcoming appointment expected as research associate professor. Godfrey’s laboratory focuses on providing physicians with new, molecular analysis tools to improve the accuracy and timeliness of cancer diagnosis and staging, and to predict prognosis. He also plans to establish a large tissue bank with detailed clinical information for oncologists and URMC scientists.

With a reputation as a dedicated and valued collaborator, Godfrey will work with researchers in Surgery, the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center, and Pathology, and with co-investigators on currently funded studies at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he was formerly on faculty. Godfrey comes to Rochester from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, where he was an associate professor of Pathology.

One of Godfrey’s primary interests is the study of the gene alterations involved in esophageal cancer. He also uses microarray technology to identify ways to detect the spread of cancer to the lymph nodes.

Godfrey earned a bachelor’s of science degree, with honors, in biochemistry from Brunel University in England, followed by a doctorate in molecular biology and biochemistry, also from Brunel. He attended the University of California, San Francisco, for postdoctoral fellowships and managed UCSF’s Genome Analysis Core Facility.

Jacob Moalem, M.D., a well-regarded surgeon, teacher and researcher, has been appointed assistant professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology. He is the only fellowship-trained endocrine surgeon in the region.

Moalem's clinical and research concentrations focus on cancerous and benign lesions and disorders of the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal glands, as well as endocrine tumors of the pancreas. He brings expertise in minimally invasive thyroidectomy and parathyroidectomy, in addition to laparoscopic adrenalectomy.

Moalem received a bachelor’s degree in applied anatomy and physiology and a master’s in interdisciplinary natural science from the University at Buffalo. He completed his medical degree at the SUNY Downstate. His general surgery residency was completed at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, where he served as executive chief resident. He recently completed a fellowship in endocrine surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.

Jeffrey A. Gusenoff , M.D., newly appointed assistant professor in the Division of Plastic Surgery, is a fellowship-trained plastic surgeon specializing in body contouring surgery after massive weight loss. He will head the Life After Weight Loss Program at URMC, only the second of its kind in the country.

A highly skilled, highly regarded surgeon, Gusenoff is dedicated to the management of post-bariatric surgery tissue contouring, performing procedures that are utilized to tighten excessively loose skin after massive weight loss. He began this specialized focus during his postdoctoral training, seeking out a year-long fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh’s post-bariatric surgery reconstruction program. His training involved several clinical projects, including analyzing the economic factors that impact whether patients have reconstructive surgery following massive weight loss. In addition to his work at the Medical Center, he will collaborate with Highland Hospital’s bariatric surgical program.

Gusenoff completed his undergraduate and medical degrees at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Following a distinguished performance at Johns Hopkins Medical School, Gusenoff completed a combined General Surgery/Plastic Surgery residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center, followed by his training at the University of Pittsburgh.

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