UB, Kaleida and ECMC name Schwaitzberg new chair of surgery and medical director of surgical program development

A Harvard Medical School faculty member, Schwaitzberg is an expert in, and advocate for, minimally invasive surgery

Release Date: February 3, 2015 This content is archived.

Dr. Steve Schwaitzberg.

Steve Schwaitzberg, MD will be chair of the Department of Surgery beginning June 1.  

One of Schwaitzberg's most important achievements is his research demonstrating the feasibility of using microwaves to warm blood to facilitate transfusions.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Steven D. Schwaitzberg, MD, chief of surgery at the Cambridge Health Alliance and a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, has been appointed chair of the Department of Surgery in the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and medical director of surgical program development for Kaleida Health and Erie County Medical Center.

The joint announcement was made by Michael E. Cain, MD, UB vice president for health sciences and dean of the medical school; Jody L. Lomeo, president and CEO, Great Lakes Health System of WNY and Kaleida Health; and Richard C. Cleland, president and chief operating officer of Erie County Medical Center (ECMC).

The appointments will take effect on or before June 1.

“Together with our partners at Kaleida and ECMC, the UB medical school is most pleased to be welcoming to Western New York such an outstanding physician-scientist,” Cain said.

Cain says that following a comprehensive national search, Schwaitzberg rapidly emerged as the top candidate possessing the administrative, scientific, clinical, leadership and visionary skills needed to move the UB Department of Surgery forward, expand its translational and clinical research programs, enhance the excellence of its graduate medical education and mentored research training programs, and develop and align a comprehensive clinical program at Great Lakes Health, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the community.

Lomeo and Cleland noted that Schwaitzberg’s international reputation and his expertise in preclinical and clinical areas of surgery will significantly enhance the quality of care for patients at Kaleida hospitals and ECMC.

"Dr. Schwaitzberg brings to Western New York an extremely strong clinical practice as well as tremendous surgical leadership, which will significantly improve the patient experience,” said Lomeo. “On behalf of Great Lakes Health and Kaleida Health, we look forward to working with him."

Cleland said: “We sincerely look forward to working with Dr. Schwaitzberg and to benefiting from his wealth of knowledge and expertise, particularly in minimally invasive surgery, that have helped improve clinical outcomes and speed patient recovery.”

The announcement brings to 15 the number of new chairs and chair-level appointees named by Cain since he became dean in 2006. These hires, Cain says, are a critical piece of his strategic vision for the medical school's future, especially as the new UB medical school building, which will open in 2017, takes shape on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Over the next five years, UB plans to hire 250 new faculty members across all academic units, 100 of whom will join the medical school. Major New York State investments to this effort include Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s NYSUNY 2020 bill, a historic piece of higher education legislation that is enabling the university to pursue the next phase of its UB 2020 strategic plan.

Schwaitzberg has been with Cambridge Health Alliance since 2005, when he became a visiting associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. In 2009, he was appointed a full-time member of the Harvard Medical School faculty, where he is currently professor of surgery.

From 1986 until 2005, Schwaitzberg served as an assistant and then associate professor of surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine, and he held several administrative posts at the former New England Medical Center, now Tufts Medical Center, including medical director, director of surgical research, vice chairman and executive committee chairman of its Institutional Review Board. He also was an associate professor in the Department of Surgery and the Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at Tufts.

Schwaitzberg has worked to promote and teach minimally invasive surgical techniques both in the U.S. and abroad, in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Japan, Brazil and France.

From 1990 to 1991, he served as surgical team chief, director of intensive care at the 365th Evacuation Hospital at the U.S. Military Complex in Seeb, Oman.

Schwaitzberg has focused his research in five areas: device development; prevention of intra-abdominal adhesions; skill acquisition in minimally invasive surgery; clinical evaluation of antibiotics; and clinical outcomes.

One of his most important achievements is his research demonstrating the feasibility of using microwaves to warm blood to facilitate transfusions. His research led to the development and federal approval of a practical device.

His basic laboratory work on an anti-adhesion device in abdominal surgery progressed to a pivotal clinical trial supporting its use in patients. He has also conducted research designed to promote skill acquisition in minimally invasive surgery in the U.S. and around the globe and has made contributions in the preclinical and clinical use of surgical robots. Schwaitzberg holds three U.S. patents.

His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and industry, and he is currently funded to study outcomes in biliary tract surgery. He also is a principle investigator on a national, prospective clinical trial of “natural orifice” versus conventional laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, gall bladder removal.

The author of more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, articles, book chapters and editorials and clinical reviews, Schwaitzberg has won numerous awards including the American College of Surgeons 2010 Health Policy Scholar award, the Computerworld/National Smithsonian Honors 21st Century Laureate Achievement award and many awards for teaching excellence. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and serves on its Board of Governors. He is past president of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons.

Schwaitzberg earned his undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and his MD from Baylor College of Medicine. He completed his surgical residency at the Baylor Affiliated Hospitals and a fellowship at the Pediatric Trauma Institute, Floating Hospital for Children. He attended the Harvard Chiefs of Service course at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Leadership program in Health Policy and Management at the Heller School of Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

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