*Emamaullee J, Besner GE. Profiles in surgical research: Michael T. Longaker, MD, MBA, FACS. Bull Am Coll Surg. 2015;100( 4): 30-34. Available
gaker-md-mba-facs/. Accessed April 12, 2016.
Dr. Atala in
called and asked again whether I wanted to do the academic track or the clinical track. I told him that I had
given it a lot of thought and that I preferred to do the
clinical track. Dr. Retik once again encouraged me to
give my decision additional consideration and asked to
speak with my wife Katherine, who is a psychiatrist.
He explained to her the two options, and told her that
he thought I should do the research year. My wife got
off the phone and told me that I should do the research
year. She told me to trust his experience and what he
thought would be the best for my career. Ultimately, I
agreed, and that is what led me to a life of research. I
was a reluctant researcher.
Michael T. Longaker [MD, MBA, FACS], featured in
the April 2015 issue of the Bulletin, had a similar
experience.* He described a feeling of wanting to
get through to the other side of training, but he
got sidetracked doing research and fell in love
Isn’t that interesting? This has become my approach in
our training program because you never know what
someone will want to do unless you expose them to it.
You could go through your whole life and never find
your true passion.
Surgeons often have someone who inspired them
and saw potential that they never would have
seen within themselves. It seems to be a major
transition point; it opens your eyes to something
I never thought I would pursue a surgical specialty or
become a researcher, but then you get inspired, and
there you are. It’s amazing. If it were not for Dr. Retik,
I would not have the career that I have today. It was a
Is Dr. Retik someone you consider to have been a
major mentor along the way?
Oh, yes, definitely. He was the one who convinced me
to try research. He directed my training in pediatric
urology, and he became the surgeon-in-chief at Boston
Children’s Hospital. Dr. Retik helped guide my career
to where it is today.
Have you had other significant mentors along the
I would say in terms of career mentor, Dr. Retik was
a major part of my career pathway. Another friend
and mentor has been Michael R. Freeman [PhD], a
researcher who was at Boston Children’s Hospital.