Division of General and Minimally Invasive Surgery

The Division of General and Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School covers a broad scope of clinical practice involving several hospital campuses. Surgeons within this division are highly skilled clinical specialists who use state of the art technology to carry out surgical procedures for patients with a wide variety of disease states. Gastrointestinal disorders, hepatobiliary disease, abdominal hernia, solid organ pathology, and obesity are just a few of the areas inclusive to the practice. Acute care surgery (also known as emergency general surgery) and community based general surgery are also part of this divisions practice.

MIS is the well defined technique of carrying out a surgical procedure through sub centimeter incisions with minimal collateral tissue injury. The term “laparoscopic surgery” is defined as the minimally invasive access method for certain abdominal wall procedures (like hernia) and for other procedures within the abdominal cavity (like stomach surgery, colon, etc). A “general surgeon” is the generic description for the type of surgeon who practices within this division. General surgeons are considered to be akin to the primary care provider amongst surgeons. The general surgeon is also the backbone of the training curriculum within any general surgery residency.

Under the visionary leadership of Dr. Demetrius Litwin, Chairman of the Department of Surgery and the direction of Dr. John Kelly, Division Chief of General Surgery, the division and the University of Massachusetts Medical School offer teaching and mentoring opportunities to third and fourth year UMass medical students as well as to UMass surgical residents. Opportunities for fourth year students from non UMass affiliated programs are available through the VSAS process. (More information at www.aamc.org/students/medstudents/vsas/).

Training and education of medical students and residents in the art and science of surgery has traditionally involved hands on exposure through direct patient encounters. With the opening of the Sherman Center in 2013, a project dedicated to the advancement of translational research, this knowledge and skill transfer will be enhanced with state of the art classrooms, simulation equipment, and education modules in a low stakes environment.

Since 1998, the Division and the University of Massachusetts Medical School also offer a comprehensive one-year clinical fellowship in advanced MIS and Bariatric surgery. The fellow will receive advanced clinical training in these areas, as well as adjunct experience in basic science & clinical research. The fellow may participate in identifying, overseeing, and participating in a clinical trial, the evaluation of new surgical instruments and techniques, the investigation into surgical outcomes, and the determination of the cost-effectiveness of various clinical interventions. Applicants are required to have completed a minimum of five years of an ACGME-accredited program in general surgery, to have passed USMLE Step 3 or equivalent and must be eligible for a Full Massachusetts Medical License. Successful applicants will have demonstrated a high level of clinical maturity, technical skills, and surgical judgment while in residency or early practice. Applicants will be assessed for these qualities by way of interviews, curriculum vitae, letters of reference, and endorsement of program directors. Fellows are selected through a match process. For more information please refer to https://fellowshipcouncil.org for more details.

Though the thrust of this division remains its clinical excellence, there are ample opportunities within the division to participate in research with faculty members. Much of the current research focus involves outcomes measures, quality, or cost metrics. There are also opportunities to participate in various clinical trials, most commonly in the technology and device development arena of Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery.

Faculty members in this division have a combined MIS experience of more than 70 years. Taking full advantage of this experience, our general surgery faculty, together with available engineering support, frequently work in collaboration or on a consultation basis with start up companies, local universities, as well as industry leaders in the area of minimally invasive technology. Collaborative efforts have yielded many past and ongoing successful products and relationships, including: breakthrough hand assist device technology, novel hand held and laparoscopic instrumentation, endoscopic and laparoscopic visual equipment, endoscopic NOTES technology, and more. The division is in the process of developing a more formal innovative program for novel surgical technology and problem solving.

For more information on areas of potential research or surgical product collaboration please contact: demetrius.litwin@umassmemorial.org or john.kelly@umassmemorial.org.