Since its establishment in 1873, the UCSF Department of Surgery has made substantial contributions to the leadership of surgery in America. Among its faculty and former trainees are twenty-four (24) current and former Department Chairs, two Executive Directors and four Presidents of the American College of Surgeons, an Executive Director of the American Board of Surgery, and dozens of leaders of major surgical societies. The dynamic spirit of creativity, vision and ingenuity from which so many leaders in surgery have emerged is alive and well, and cherished as a central tenant of our department’s mission. The NIH T32 Research Training Grant in Gastrointestinal Surgery builds on this tradition, contributing to the advancement of innovative biomedical science and healthcare.
The NIH T32 Research Training Grant in Gastrointestinal (GI) Surgery was established in 1987 by Dr. Haile T. Debas, Professor Emeritus of Surgery and Director Emeritus of the UC Global Health Institute (UCGHI), a leader world-renowned for his contributions to academic medicine and global health. Dr. Debas previously served as Chair of the Department of Surgery, Dean of the School of Medicine, Vice Chancellor, Chancellor, and Executive Director of UCSF Global Health Sciences, in a storied career as a physician-scientist, professor, and leader in global outreach that has spanned over four decades.
The impetus for the T32 Research GI Training Grant was the Department’s deep commitment to basic and translational research and training leaders in academic surgery stepped in that same unwavering commitment. Dr. Debas served as program director for the first two funding cycles, followed by Dr. Nigel Bunnett, a long-term colleague and collaborator, who served as program director for the next two cycles, before leaving UCSF.
Dr. Hobart W. Harris, Professor and Chief of General Surgery at UCSF, succeeded Dr. Bunnett and is current the Program Director. Dr. Harris' research interests include understanding the body's response to infection (sepsis) and acute injury, complex ventral hernias, and acute and chronic pancreatitis. For over two decades, Dr. Harris has identified and characterized a non-canonical role for lipoproteins as components of an innate, non-adaptive host immune response to infection. This work is of considerable importance in the gastrointestinal tract, where bacterial translocation is associated with both human health and disease conditions, including inflammatory bowel diseases and sepsis following surgery and burn injury.
Today, the training program continues to evolve to more effectively prepare its trainees to meet the challenges of life as a surgeon-scientist in the 21st century, empowering them to become leaders in academic surgery who will devote substantial effort to applied research focused on surgical problems involving the gastrointestinal system.