your residency and fellowship, you get hired to operate,
and you take on a big caseload. Years go by, and you
lack the opportunity to truly obtain research training.
I believe that clinicians need formal training to have
the mental tools necessary to perform quality research
and subsequently be noticed by their institutions, funding agencies, and everyone else. With formal training,
the red carpet seems to be rolled out. Without formal
research training, they lack the so-called validity factor,
and without that, it can be very hard to get your foot
in the door.
What advice would you give trainees who are in-
terested in this career path?
My advice is to find a good mentor, find a supportive
environment where there is an opportunity to really
focus on research without worrying about generating
thousands of RVUs, and to seek formal training at every
As part of the surgical community, what can we
do to facilitate the growth of research?
We need to establish environments where researchers
are respected, protected, and nurtured, rather than
driven further and further into the culture of generating RVUs.
Have you struggled to find balance between
your clinical duties, research activities, and per-
One of my greatest challenges has been cutting back
You have so many responsibilities, and yet you
on my clinical efforts. As surgeons, we love to oper-
ate, we love challenging cases; as transplant surgeons,
we love operating in the middle of the night. Forcing
myself to reduce the time devoted to clinical care
to pursue the formal training that I needed and to
increase the protected time that I needed to develop
into a scientist was difficult. Now that it has all come
together nicely, I feel like I have the balance for me.
Today, my career is ideally suited to my passions. I
still spend time training residents and fellows in the
operating room and providing care to my patients,
but I also have enough time and support to accom-
plish quality research goals.
have a number of hobbies. How do you find time
to do it all?
My wife and I met at the American Lindy Hop Championships as competitors and, subsequently, performed
as winners together. We then founded a dance studio
in Baltimore. We still teach dance in Baltimore and
around the world and greatly enjoy pursuing the
“renaissance” interests that we have together. Incidentally, we also collaborate academically, but that’s
a story for another day.
We have frequent music parties at our house that
we call “house jams” that give me an opportunity
to stay connected with playing the piano, guitar,
and singing—things I studied before I ever went to
medical school. I also try to take time when I travel
for academic conferences to stay connected with my
camera and my decades-long love for hiking and
nature photography. I feel very strongly that nurturing both my scientific/technical side as well as my
artistic side has allowed me to remain sane and balanced. I love to corrupt others by introducing them
to dance and music and the arts, in the same way that
I have enjoyed introducing people to epidemiology,
biostatistics, and transplantation. ♦