Faculty Awards, Honors & Publications
Dr. Eileen Bulger Named Harborview Medical Center Surgeon-in Chief of Trauma, Burn & Critical Care
(November 2022) Our utmost congratulations to Eileen M. Bulger, MD, who is the newly appointed Chief for the Division of Trauma, Burn and Critical Care Surgery in addition to being named the Surgeon-in-Chief for Harborview Medical Center. The selection came after an extensive national search confirmed that she was indeed the most highly qualified candidate for these leadership positions.
To those of us whom have known Eileen since she first came to the UW Department of Surgery as an intern in 1992, we are not surprised by these highly appropriate acknowledgements in her already stellar career and proven excellence in all she has done during her tenure at HMC. Eileen was recognized as a potential academic star from the time she arrived. Her prior pedigree, including an undergrad degree from The Johns Hopkins University and MD from Cornell University Medical College, portended of great success and we have not been disappointed.
Developing into a superb clinician and outstanding technical surgeon as a resident, she committed the additional time and effort to complete an NIH T32 NIGMS Trauma Fellowship at Harborview studying the aberrant host immunoinflammatory response after severe injury and resuscitation and the clinical impact on Multiple Organ Failure Syndrome and its treatment. She further complemented her training by completing ABS Board training in the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship at Harborview. Her experiences at HMC cemented her passion for caring for the injured and vulnerable patient that began as an EMT in her home state of Rhode Island, early in her professional career development. Following completion of her formal training, we were indeed fortunate to recruit her to a faculty position in Trauma and Critical Care at Harborview Medical Center and in the UW Department of Surgery in 2000.
Dr. Bulger’s maturation and academic growth led to rapid progression through the ranks to achieve Full Professor rank in 2009. In addition, Dr. Bulger has demonstrated a career long dedication to support and leadership in Department and at HMC. She became Director and Associate Medical Director of Emergency Services in 2009, and Chief of Trauma in 2012 prior to being appointed recently as Associate Medical Director of Surgical Services. If not enough, she also became the champion and Director of the ECLS Program at HMC. While providing excellent leadership, she also has been recognized for her professionalism and dedication to patient care with an Outstanding Consultant Award, HME Cares Award and numerous Top Doctor Recognitions.
Dr. Bulger has also been an outstanding researcher, educator and mentor for our department. She has been a mentor to numerous trainees who were successful not only during their training but also have gone on to become leaders in the field of Trauma and Critical Care. She has been awarded the UW Surgery Distinguished Alumni Award and the John L. Stevenson Award for Resident Teaching. Her professionalism, dedication, calm logical approach and deep respect for all members of the health care team have led to her crucial leadership positions in the institution and admiration by several generations of trainees at all levels. In addition, she has been involved in the departmental and university PEER mentorship program and was a founding member of the Women in Trauma Surgery (WITS) Group, now serving a leadership role across the globe.
Nationally and internationally, Eileen has become a true academic superstar. She has served in numerous leadership positions based on her accomplishments, including being chosen as the first female to Chair the Committee on Trauma of the ACS, the leading clinical, research, educational and quality assurance organization in the nation. During her tenure, her astute abilities as a consensus maker has led to a major break-through to bring the disparate sides together to address the challenges of firearm injuries. She now serves as a faculty staff expert for the ACS in all Trauma related initiatives. Recently, she was elected to the Presidency of the AAST, the largest, most prestigious academic trauma society in the world. And, along the way she has served as the Chair of the Board for the Coalition for National Trauma Research and served on numerous special emphasis panels at the NIH, CDC and DOD. Her investigations in the response to trauma and severe necrotizing infections at the cellular level to the optimal treatment and multi-institutional resuscitation and interventional trials have been recognized for their seminal elucidation of the complex biology and improvements in clinical care which has entailed twenty plus years of continuous federal research funding and nearly 300 peer reviewed publications.
Amongst this vast array of activities, Eileen spends quiet quality time with her beloved husband Doug and two daughters, Natalie and Kelsey, while maintaining her large flower garden. For those who work with Dr. Bulger, she is above all considered a supportive, respectful colleague and educator. All who interact with her appreciate her professionalism and quiet dedicated efforts for her patients and trainees. We have been given a truly outstanding resource, colleague and friend. Please congratulate Dr. Bulger on her recent appointments and long career of dedication and commitment to the most vulnerable patients in our community.
Ronald V. Maier, MD
Division of Trauma, Burn & Critical Care
Dr. Tam Pham Receives UW Alumni Early Achievement Award
(November 2022) Dr. Tam Pham, Professor & Chief of the UW Medicine Regional Burn Center at Harborview Medical Center, received the 2022 UW Alumni Early Achievement Award. This honor is for an alumnus or alumna who graduated within the last 20 years and has excelled in his or her career, making significant contributions to public health through clinical care, medical science, research, humanitarianism or administrative activities.
Dr. Pham reflects, “I am deeply honored for this award. As with most opportunities in our professional lives, success has much to do with mentors opening doors for mentees. The real job for the mentees is to walk through those open doors. In my case, I am grateful to Drs. Nicole Gibran and Ron Maier who took an interest in my career development. Furthermore, this recognition really acknowledges the work of all the UW Medicine Regional Burn Center staff, specifically the team of nurses, therapists, physicians and other allied professionals who advocate for burn patients on a daily basis.” Watch the video >>
Dr. Kathleen Berfield Appointed to the K. Alvin and Shirley Merendino Endowed Professorship
(November 2022) The K. Alvin and Shirley E. Merendino Endowed Professorship was recently appointed to Dr. Kathleen Berfield, Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. This Endowed Professorship was established in 2006 to provide support for the Department of Surgery in attaining its mission of resident education.
Dr. Berfield joined the Department of Surgery as Assistant Professor in 2016, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2022. She is the Program Director for the Cardiothoracic Surgery-Integrated & 4/3 residency programs as well as the Cardiothoracic Surgery-Traditional and Cardiothoracic Transplant/MCS fellowship programs.
“Dr. K. Alvin Merendino left behind a legacy of excellence at the University of Washington both in and out of the operative room,” said Dr. Berfield. “In addition to being a skilled surgeon he was a master educator, leader and colleague. I am beyond proud to be named the K. Alvin and Shirley Merendino Endowed Professor. It is a distinction I will strive to be worthy of and I carry his commitment to education forward in my own career.”
Dr. Jay Pal Appointed to the Lester and Connie LeRoss Endowed Professorship in Cardiovascular Surgery
(November 2022) Dr. Jay Pal, Professor and Associate Section Chief of Cardiac Surgery, was recently appointed to the Lester and Connie LeRoss Endowed Professorship in Cardiovascular Surgery. This Endowed Professorship was created in 1999 to help further work in developing equipment, procedures, training techniques and personnel to treat heart-related ailments.
In January 2022, Dr. Pal started his practice at UW Medicine as Surgical Director of the Heart Transplantation and the Mechanical Circulatory Support Service, coming from his prior position as Surgical Director of the Mechanical Circulatory Support Program at the University of Colorado Hospital.
Dr. Pal stated, “it is an honor to be recognized as the Lester and Connie LeRoss Endowed Professor in Cardiovascular Surgery. The endowment recognizes the generosity of Lester and Connie LeRoss, and facilitates the advancement of the heart transplant program at the University of Washington. Since my residency, the surgical treatment of advanced heart failure has been my passion, and I look forward to the many new treatment options that we now have at our disposal to take care of patients."
Dr. Deepika Nehra Received Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Grant
(November 2022) Dr. Deepika Nehra, Assistant Professor, Division of Trauma, Burn & Critical Care Surgery, received a grant from the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention – Community Safety Unit. Dr. Nehra explains, “Firearm injury is a major public health crisis and the last two years have set records as the most violent years in Harborview history. In response to this, Harborview Medical Center has partnered with incredible community organizations that have come together as the Regional Peacekeepers collective. Together we have launched a pilot hospital-linked violence intervention program specifically focused on youth/young adults from King County who are injured by gun violence. Through this partnership we are now able to provide these high-risk youth and their families intense wraparound support services at the time of discharge and beyond with the goal of decreasing repeat violent injury and death while also improving quality of life, building social support networks and creating viable alternatives to violence.” Dr. Nehra continues, “This recently secured funding from the WA State Department of Commerce is critical, as it will allow for the enhancement and expansion of our current pilot violence intervention program. With this funding we plan to expand support services to survivors of firearm injury who live in high-risk neighborhoods outside of King County, to intensify the support services (especially mental health services) provided and to build programmatic evaluation.”
Dr. Teresa Kim Recipient of West Coast Collaborative Visiting Professor Program
(November 2022) On September 2, 2022, Dr. Teresa Kim, Assistant Professor, Division of General Surgery, was announced as the University of Washington’s inaugural recipient of the West Coast Collaborative Visiting Professor Program. The Program was created by the chairs of surgery at UC Davis, UC San Francisco, Stanford, Oregon Health & Sciences University, and UW, and aims to advance the careers of junior and mid-career faculty, build networks across the institutions, and strengthen commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Each institution will select an Assistant or Associate Professor to give grand rounds, with preference to underrepresented minorities, including women faculty. This first year of the West Coast Collaborative UW had 21 faculty nominated: of those, 13 met the criteria and were invited to apply. The selection committee was composed of members from the Appointments & Promotions Committee, Women's Council and Diversity Council, and all applications were excellent. Dr. Teresa Kim was selected as the winner and will be traveling to OHSU to give Grand rounds in the near future.
“This is such a fantastic opportunity,” expressed Dr. Kim. “I am so grateful for Dr. Wood, Dr. Quiroga, and the organizers at our partner institutions for setting up this program and providing a unique platform for early- and mid-career faculty to network, share ideas, and impact the field. Very much looking forward to meeting the surgeons and scientists at OHSU, representing our department, and bringing back exciting new perspectives and ideas. As always, I would like to give special thanks to mentors Dr. Venu Pillarisetty and Dr. Raymond Yeung for their keen guidance and support.”
Dr. Maziar Khorsandi
Received The ISHLT/O.H. Frazier Award
In Mechanical Circulatory Support Translational Research
(June 2022) Dr. Maziar Khorsandi, Assistant Professor, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, received the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation/O.H. Frazier Award in Mechanical Circulatory Support (MCS)Translational Research. The purpose of this award is to support rising stars in the field of MCS at a critical time in their career. The award recipient will have already established a track record in the field of mechanical circulatory support and will stive to further develop their career in this area.
“We aim to demonstrate the utility of wireless pulmonary artery pressure monitoring (CardioMEMS HF) in the management of patients supported with durable left ventricular assist devices (LVAD),” said Dr. Khorsandi. “We expect that CardioMEMS HF can obviate the need for invasive hemodynamic studies in the cath lab and echocardiography to determine each patient’s optimal LVAD speed. Furthermore, the findings from this study will provide a potential mechanism for the closed-loop modulation of LVAD pump speed in future controller designs.“
Dr. Sara Kim Honored With Scripps’ College 2022 Distinguished Alumnae of the Year Award
(June 2022) Dr. Sara Kim, Research Professor, Division of General Surgery, was honored with Scripps’ College 2022 Distinguished Alumnae of the Year Award. First presented in 1978, the Scripps College Distinguished Alumna Award was established to celebrate the notable achievements of Scripps alumnae and to focus attention on Scripps’ role in the education of women. Dr. Kim has dedicated her career to UW as a medical educator, developing and delivering training in resolving interpersonal conflict in healthcare settings. Dr. Kim credits Scripps and the late Professor Jim Gould, her advisor at Scripps, for instilling the passion for lifelong learning. Dr. Kim states, “Professor Gould showed me that a value like kindness can be and must be a lifelong practice within us. As a leader in the medical school, collaboratively solving organizational challenges or teaching conflict management skills, I’m learning that kindness is the foundation of honoring the dignity of both myself and others. The early experience of kindness at Scripps and the lifelong remembrance of that experience molded me into who I am today.”
(June 2022) Dr. Teresa Kim, Assistant Professor, Division of General Surgery, received the National Cancer Institute Early-Stage Surgeon Scientist Program (ESSP) Award. ESSP is designed to train surgeon scientists and retain them in cancer research by supporting a program focused on cancer-related disease and basic/translational research. This program aims to bring together surgeon scientists from across the United States and build cohorts that will be trained together for up to three years per cohort.
“This award is so impactful. I am grateful that the NIH recognized and is proactively working to support early-stage surgeon scientists, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn alongside brilliant peers and continue building my own tumor immunology research program. Most importantly, I am grateful for the sustained support of the Department of Surgery – the investment in my scientific work, the sponsorship of opportunities like this, and the invaluable mentorship shared by senior surgeon scientists, Drs. Raymond Yeung and Venu Pillarisetty. Their passion, wisdom, guidance, and belief in my potential have been critical at many steps along the way. Excited to get to work, tackling immune resistance in colorectal cancer liver metastasis.”
(June 2022) Dr. Lorrie Langdale, Professor & Chief, Section of General Surgery, VA Puget Sound Health Care System (VA), received the Seattle Surgical Society Lifetime Service Award to recognize and honor her substantial life-long contributions to the health and well-being of citizens of the Pacific Northwest.
“It was a tremendous honor and surprise to receive the 2022 Lifetime Service Award from the Seattle Surgical Society,” said Dr. Langdale. “The Award was inaugurated in 2021 and presented to Dr. Michael Copass. Given his legacy to Seattle’s Emergency Response System and care of the injured patient, to be cast as having had anything close to his impact on our community was humbling. We all aspire to make a difference and there are many paths to achieving that goal. As a kid, I wanted to be either a doctor or a math teacher—as it happened, a fulfilling career at the Seattle VA in the UW Department of Surgery and School of Medicine allowed me to merge those dreams, teaching several generations of residents and students to care for patients both in and out of the operating room and mentoring those who wanted to follow. I have watched with pride the growth of so many friends who are now the go-to surgeons of their institutions. I am most gratified to have played a small role in their continued success.”
(June 2022) Dr. Rebecca Maine, Assistant Professor, Division of Trauma, Burn & Critical Care Surgery, received the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) Research and Education Fund Scholarship. The purpose of this scholarship is to encourage young investigators to become a part of the AAST community, network with leading trauma surgeons, and engage in the cutting-edge program at the Annual Meeting.
(June 2022) To honor the late Dr. Patricia L. Dawson, MD, FACS, Ph.D, and her 40 year legacy of advocating for healthcare equity, an endowed faculty fellowship in the UW Medicine Office of Healthcare Equity was created in her name. This fund will “support the work of a faculty leader at UW Medicine to operationalize the goals of the UW Medicine Healthcare Equity Blueprint, an innovative roadmap for improving equity outcomes written by UW Medicine leaders and initiated by Drs. Houston and Dawson.” Dr. Shakirat (Lara) Oyetunji, Assistant Professor, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, was the inaugural recipient and says of this honor, “Dr. Dawson was a visionary leader and a remarkable surgeon with a passion and career dedicated to eliminating healthcare inequities. It is an immense honor to be selected as the inaugural recipient for this endowed faculty fellowship. I hope that I can rise to the legacy that this endowed fellowship commands and very much look forward to working with the Office of Health Care Equity, the UW Heart Institute, the Department of Surgery, and local partners on moving the needle pertaining to the cardiac care that UW Medicine provides to our patients and community.”
(June 2022) Dr. James Park, Professor, Division of General Surgery, in collaboration with Dr. Yawen Li in Radiation Oncology were awarded the Wayne D. and Joan E. Kuni Foundation Imagination Grant to support their work in advancing liver cancer imaging. The Imagination Grants serve as catalysts for strengthening or expanding the cancer research capabilities of an institution in service of its mission to fulfill an unmet need and to advance the impactful and innovative work into the next critical phase.
“This generous support from the Kuni Foundation will provide funding to humanize our antibody, a critical next step in bringing our research from bench to bedside. Our innovative platform will detect liver cancer at sizes ten times smaller than current best imaging and treat advanced stage disease when other options are not feasible. This type of imaging will be paradigm shifting, preventing early recurrences after invasive therapies, and will provide a novel treatment to patients with limited options.”
(June 2022) Dr. Venu Pillarisetty, Professor, Division of General Surgery, and Evan Newell, Associate Professor, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, received Brotman Baty Institute funding for their research developing personalized T cell therapeutics that target an individual patient’s cancer.
Dr. Pillarisetty, who has been studying immunology for over 20 years, noted, “this work is a passion of mine. In some ways, our study represents an interesting pairing. Kidney and pancreatic cancers are very different and respond differently to immunotherapies. Up to this point, pancreatic cancer has not really responded very well to immunotherapy, while kidney cancer has.”
(June 2022) Dr. Jonathan Sham, Assistant Professor, Division of General Surgery, received the Dr. Charles A. Coltman, Jr., Fellowship Award from The Hope Foundation. The primary purpose of this award is to engage outstanding early-career investigators from SWOG-affiliated institutions in learning clinical trial methodology within an academic and network group environment that will lead to independent clinical research, while honoring the legacy of long-time SWOG Chair and leader, Dr. Charles A. Coltman, Jr. Dr. Sham’s study aims to evaluate the effect of lanreotide on postoperative pancreatic fistula.
“This award presents a unique opportunity to gain career-changing guidance from SWOG leaders about the development and execution of multi-institutional clinical trials,” said Dr. Sham. “I would not have been competitive for this award without the support of my partners in HPB surgery, division mentorship team, and department leadership.”
(June 2022) Dr. Estell Williams, Assistant Professor, Division of General Surgery, was awarded the inaugural Association for Surgical Education Research Fellowship award. The Surgical Education Research Fellowship program (SERF) is a one year, home-site fellowship designed to equip investigators with the skills and knowledge needed to plan, implement and report research studies in the field of surgical education. Following acceptance into the SERF program, each fellow is carefully matched by the program’s faculty with a SERF Advisor, a respected and knowledgeable researcher who will serve as the fellow’s mentor and consultant on their particular project.
“I thank Society of Black Academic Surgeons and Association for Surgical Education for this amazing opportunity,” said Dr. Williams. “I am so proud to represent my Department of Surgery family and gain the support and skills to continue to advance my academic career.”
(June 2022) Dr. Raymond Yeung, Professor, Division of General Surgery, received a Pilot Award funded by the Cancer Center Support Grant, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, to investigate calcium signaling in fibrolamellar cancer. The goal of this research is to explore a new mechanism that may drive the development and progression of this rare form of childhood liver cancer, which currently has no effective systemic therapy. He will team up with Dr. Yasemin Sancak, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology, to further expand inter-departmental collaboration in basic oncology research. “This work represents an extension of our Translational Team Science Award from the Department of Defense to find new therapeutic targets for fibrolamellar cancer,” said Dr. Yeung. “I’m grateful for this support that will continue to promote bench-to-bedside investigation for a deadly disease that afflicts otherwise healthy children and young adults.”
(January 2022) Dr. Farhood Farjah, Endowed Chair in Lung Cancer Research, Associate Professor, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, received an NIH grant award for his project “Comparative-Effectiveness of Pretreatment Lung Cancer Nodal Staging.” “Our team’s goal is to reduce diagnostic and treatment errors, improve survival, and increase the value of care for lung cancer patients by improving our ability to select patients who benefit from a lymph node biopsy prior to starting treatment,” said Dr. Farjah. “This investigation determines the effectiveness of guideline recommended selection criteria for a pretreatment lymph node biopsy, and it tests whether a novel approach to selecting patients for lymph node biopsy is equivalent to guideline recommended strategy in terms of survival but superior in terms of lower biopsy-related severe adverse events and health expenditures. Findings from this study will lead to: 1) developing and testing implementation strategies designed to increase guideline-concordant lymph node evaluation, 2) alternative guideline recommendations for lymph node evaluation, and/or 3) justifying trials comparing outcomes between different lymph node evaluation strategies.”
(January 2022) Dr. Tam Pham, Professor & Chief, UW Medicine (UWM) Regional Burn Center, Harborview Medical Center (HMC), was recently named the David and Nancy Auth – Washington Research Foundation Endowed Chair for Restorative Burn Surgery. Dr. David Auth, an innovator who helped countless lives by successfully devising minimally invasive surgical technologies, created this endowment in partnership with the Washington Research Foundation to support research and other work to improve burn patient outcomes. The first holder of this Chair was Dr. Matt Klein (2008-2011). Over the next decade, this endowment supported Dr. Gibran’s research endeavors in scar and patient functional outcomes. Following Dr. Gibran’s retirement in July, the selection committee was unanimous concluding Dr. Pham “meets all expectations and criteria set forth in the endowment agreement and will utilize the benefits of the Chair to further enhance and enrich the quality and excellence of care for burn patients at the outstanding regional resource of which he is currently Director.” In addition to being an outstanding and internationally recognized burn surgeon, Dr. Pham is also a consulting physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Assistant Program Director of the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship-HMC. As current holder of this prestigious Chair, Dr. Pham is committed to continuing burn center research support and modernizing scar management.
(January 2022) Dr. Nicholas Vedder, Professor & Chief, Jamie Hunter Endowed Chair in Reconstructive Plastic Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, was awarded the American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS) Distinguished Fellow Award. The AAPS, the oldest and most prestigious plastic surgery organization in the world, acknowledged Dr. Vedder for his personal achievements and lifetime contributions to the field of plastic surgery. Dr. Donald Mackay, AAPS Past President (2020-21) and Honors Committee Chair, presented the award to Dr. Vedder, AAPS Past President (2018-19), at the 100th AAPS Annual Meeting in April 2022.
“Over the past two decades I have had the privilege of watching the University of Washington Plastic surgery program grow exponentially under Nick’s careful leadership. Stable growth from six residents to 30 residents, and six faculty to 17 could have only happened under a leader with Nick’s skill, support and dedication.
—Dr. Richard A. Hopper
Chief, Division of Craniofacial and Plastic Surgery
Surgical Director, Craniofacial Center
Seattle Children's Hospital
Professor, Division of Plastic Surgery
“This award is a tremendous honor for Dr. Vedder and for our Division of Plastic Surgery. It is confirmation of what those of us here in Seattle, and the entire membership of the AAPS have known for a long time: that Dr. Vedder has made it his life’s work to elevate the field of plastic surgery, and to ensure that the American Association of Plastic Surgeons remains at the vanguard of our specialty.”
—Dr. Jeffrey Friedrich
Professor, Division of Plastic Surgery
”Dr. Vedder has been awarded the AAPS Distinguished Fellow award in recognition of a lifetime of achievements and contributions to the field of plastic surgery. This is one of the highest awards given from the American Association of Academic Plastic Surgeons, the oldest and one of the most prestigious plastic surgery societies, and is certainly well-deserved given all his accomplishments in a remarkable career.“
—Dr. Otway Louie
Section Chief, UW Medicine Center for Reconstructive Surgery
Associate Professor, Division of Plastic Surgery