Schooling surgeon scientists

Surgical residents Darrell Hunt (L) and Matthew Delano

The University of Florida department of surgery takes research training of its surgical residents to the next level by encouraging and fostering the pursuit of an additional doctorate degree.

This year, two general surgery residents, Matthew J. Delano, M.D., and Darrell L. Hunt, M.D., will add another degree to their title, Ph.D. Delano successfully defended his thesis last month; Hunt will defend his in May. Priscilla F. McAuliffe, M.D., Ph.D., was the first UF surgical resident to earn her doctorate degree in 2005 during her residency training.

Lyle L. Moldawer, Ph.D., professor and vice chairman of research for the department of surgery, said the UF program, which is offered in conjunction with the College of Medicine’s Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences, is unique for a couple of reasons.

“The general surgery residency program is a clinical program that starts with an M.D. and makes a surgeon out of him or her,” Moldawer said. “We have a training program that produces not only outstanding surgeons, but surgeons who are trained in answering the theoretical questions about surgery and surgery research.”

He added, “We believe that a combined knowledge of the scientific method and surgery makes a better surgeon, and also trains a small and unique cadre who are capable of translating research from the bench to the bedside, and moving the field forward. These will be the future academic leaders in surgery.”

Support for the training of these surgical residents as scientists comes from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ Ruth Kirschstein and the National Cancer Institute’s National Research Service Award training grants. Through the program surgical residents take three years off from their general surgery residency training to focus on research.

Hunt, whose research focused on breast cancer, will return in the fall for his final three years of surgical training. Delano will spend one more year working in the laboratory studying inflammation’s role in the development of sepsis, before returning to the operating room.

McAuliffe, whose research centered on inflammation and vascular injury, is completing her general surgery residency this year and will be begin an advanced fellowship at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in the fall.