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Harvard Professor to Chair UB Department of Surgery

Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD

Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD

Published February 6, 2015

Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD, professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and chief of surgery at the Cambridge Health Alliance, has been named chair of the University at Buffalo’s Department of Surgery.

An internationally recognized expert in minimally invasive surgery, Schwaitzberg is a prolific researcher who focuses on device development and prevention of intra-abdominal adhesions, among other interests.

Schwaitzberg also will serve as medical director of surgical program development for Kaleida Health and Erie County Medical Center (ECMC).

His UB appointment begins June 1.

Expert in Minimally Invasive Surgery

An internationally recognized expert in minimally invasive surgery, Schwaitzberg has been with Cambridge Health Alliance since 2005.

The same year, he become a visiting associate professor at Harvard Medical School; four years later, he was appointed a full-time faculty member.

From 1986 until 2005, Schwaitzberg served as an assistant, then associate, professor of surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine.

He held several administrative posts at the New England Medical Center — now Tufts Medical Center — including medical director, director of surgical research, vice chairman and executive committee chairman of its Institutional Review Board.

He also served as an associate professor in Tufts’ departments of Surgery and Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

From 1990 to 1991, he served as surgical team chief, director of intensive care at the 365th Evacuation Hospital within the U.S. Military Complex in Seeb, Oman.

Research Led to Device Facilitating Transfusions

Among Schwaitzberg’s most significant research accomplishments is demonstrating the feasibility of using microwaves to warm blood, facilitating transfusions. His work in this area led to the development and federal approval of a practical device.

Schwaitzberg’s basic laboratory work on an anti-adhesion device in abdominal surgery progressed to a pivotal clinical trial supporting its use in patients.

In addition to device development and preventing intra-abdominal adhesions, Schwaitzberg’s research focuses on:

  • skill acquisition in minimally invasive surgery
  • clinical evaluation of antibiotics
  • clinical outcomes

He holds three U.S. patents.

PI on Gall Bladder Surgery Study

Schwaitzberg is a principal investigator on a national prospective clinical trial studying natural orifice versus conventional laparoscopic gall bladder removal.

He is is currently funded to study outcomes in biliary tract surgery.

The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and industry have funded Schwaitzberg’s research.

Promotes Minimally Invasive Techniques Globally

Schwaitzberg has promoted and taught minimally invasive surgical techniques in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Greece, Japan, Brazil and France.

He also has made contributions in the preclinical and clinical use of surgical robots.

Fellow of American College of Surgeons

Schwaitzberg has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, articles, book chapters, editorials and clinical reviews.

He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and serves on its board of governors.

He is past president of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons.

He has won numerous awards, including the American College of Surgeons 2010 Health Policy Scholar Award, the Computerworld/National Smithsonian Honors 21st Century Laureate Achievement Award and many recognitions for teaching excellence.

Degrees from Johns Hopkins, Baylor

Schwaitzberg earned his undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine.

He completed surgical residency at the Baylor Affiliated Hospitals and a fellowship at the Pediatric Trauma Institute, Floating Hospital for Children.

He attended the Harvard chiefs of service course at the Harvard School of Public Health and the leadership program in health policy and management at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Policy and Management.

Outstanding Clinician, Scientist, Leader

In announcing Schwaitzberg’s appointments, Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean, UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, described him as an “outstanding physician-scientist.”

He made the joint announcement with Jody L. Lomeo, president and CEO of Great Lakes Health System of WNY and Kaleida Health, and Richard C. Cleland, president and chief operating officer of ECMC.

“Dr. Schwaitzberg brings to Western New York an extremely strong clinical practice as well as tremendous surgical leadership, which will significantly improve the patient experience,” Lomeo said.

New Chair Hires Part of Strategic Plan

Schwaitzberg’s appointment brings to 15 the number of new chairs and chair-level appointees that Cain has named since becoming medical school dean in 2006.

These hires play a critical role in his strategic plan for the medical school, especially as the new medical school building — which will open in 2017 — takes shape on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.