our field and our patients and to address these issues
using the most appropriate methodology. And we
train the next generation of surgeons, physicians,
epidemiologists, statisticians, mathematicians, and
computer scientists along the way, which is probably
the most rewarding part of it all.
It is fortuitous that you are geographically so
close to Washington, given the amount of policy
work you do.
Yes, it is our proximity to Washington, DC, that got me
interested in policy to begin with. As a junior faculty
member, I did what is called a “nonresidential policy
fellowship,” in which I spent time on Capitol Hill and
learned how bills are written and how policy develops
in real time. This experience helped me through several
congressional policy efforts that we have taken on. We
also do a lot of work with the Organ Procurement and
Transplantation Network; the field of transplantation is
mostly overseen outside of congressional law, so there
are a lot of opportunities for people from the transplant
community to influence organ allocation and policy
decisions in the [U.S].
How have you applied the excellent mentorship
you have received to your role as a mentor to oth-
er surgical investigators?
I would not be where I am today were it not for the
influential and key people that I encountered in medi-
cal school, residency, and fellowship. I ended up with
a career that somehow evolved to be perfectly suited
to my unusual background and clinical interests. It is
very different from the vision I had for my future when
I was in medical school. These mentors helped me put
the pieces together and link my various interests in a
way that would help me unite my clinical interests with
what I could do to advance the field.
Mentors have a much broader scope of vision than
[young physicians] do when we are just entering the
field. What I now find most interesting, fun, and gratifying is being able to corrupt (I think some people call
it “mentor”) young people in our field. I like to show
them why I find transplantation to be so exciting, foster
their excitement of learning and moving the field forward, and introduce surgeons to robust epidemiology
and statistical methods, as well as introduce statisticians
to the field of transplantation.
In my training so far, the best mentors always
seem to have an infectious enthusiasm and are
truly altruistic—they just want you to be successful without any personal benefit. Have you experienced that?
Definitely, and from both sides, as mentee and mentor.
The successes of which I am most proud today involve
the accomplishments of my mentees. When I apply for a
grant, it gets funded or doesn’t get funded. Of course, I
need to get funded so my research group can stay alive,
but there is not nearly the same level of excitement
that I get when my mentees receive their first career
development award, publish their first JAMA paper, or
has their first really inspiring success.
What do you think are the greatest challenges fac-
ing surgeon-scientists starting their careers now?
For surgeon-scientists endeavoring to develop a serious
clinical research career, I think the biggest challenge is
finding protected time, resources, and the opportunity
for dedicated, focused, formal training. This paradigm
has never really existed for clinical research. You finish
Dr. Segev and his
wife Sommer Gentry,
PhD, dancing in their