Dr. Mediget Teshome appointed as Chief of Breast Surgery  

Mediget Teshome

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Mediget Teshome, MD MPH, FACS, as Chief of Breast Surgery in the Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology and Director of Breast Health, UCLA Health effective January 1st, 2024.  She was selected for the role after a nationwide search.  

Dr. Teshome is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Department of Breast Surgical Oncology.  She is the Program Director of the Breast Surgical Oncology Fellowship Program and the Professional Ambassador for the Division of Surgery.  She is also a member of several national professional societies currently serving as Vice Chair of the Publications Committee of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, Vice Chair of the Society of Surgical Oncology Breast Fellowship Program Directors Committee, and Chair of the Education Committee of the American College of Surgeons Cancer Surgery Standards Program. While at MD Anderson, she has been recognized for excellence in education receiving the Breast Surgical Faculty Excellence in Research Mentorship Award, the Outstanding GME Program Director Award, and as a Faculty Excellence Award Honoree in Education and Mentorship Advancement. 

Dr. Teshome completed her undergraduate education at UCLA and her medical degree at the University of Michigan Medical School. Additionally, she earned a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard School of Public Health. She completed her general surgery residency training at Stanford and breast surgical oncology fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. 

Dr. Teshome has committed her career to advancing the care of women and men with breast cancer through high-quality clinical care, collaborative clinical research, educating the next generation of leaders in breast surgical oncology, and improving equity in health care and society. 

Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Dr. Teshome as the next Chief of Breast Surgery and Director of Breast Health, UCLA Health. 

Dr. Peyman Benharash Appointed CASIT Executive Director 

Peyman Benharash, MD

Dr. Peyman Benharash has been appointed as Executive Director for the Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT). 

Dr. Benharash has deep connections to education, innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration along with extensive experience in simulation training and research. From his time as an undergraduate at UCLA participating in the installation of the first pulsed laser system in the Department of Chemical Engineering and in the Stanford Biodesign Program, his career has been defined by a commitment to advancing medical technologies.  He has demonstrated leadership in clinical and translational science, successful patent acquisition, and the mentorship of countless students, residents, and fellows, all of which harmonize with CASIT's core missions. 

The new CASIT space in Rosenfeld Hall offers a singular opportunity to build upon the legacy established by Dr. Carmack Holmes and Dr. Erik Dutson in close collaboration with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Dr. Yue-Ming Huang, Executive Director of the UCLA Simulation Center.  Dr. Benharash and Dr. Areti Tillou, director of CASIT American College of Surgeons Accredited Education Institute, will coordinate efforts with surgical departments to expand available programs for trainees, support community outreach, inspire future generations, and facilitate R&D for device and technology development. 

Dr. Benharash's exceptional background and dedication to advancing surgical education and technology make him the ideal leader for CASIT.   

Dr. Bryan Burt joins Surgery as Chief of Thoracic Surgery 

bryan burt

Dr. Bryan Burt has joined the Department of Surgery as Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Health, effective October 1, 2023.  

Dr. Burt was most recently the Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. He was also a member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Baylor. 

Dr. Burt obtained his undergraduate education at New York University and his medical degree at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in 2003. He completed residencies in general surgery and thoracic surgery at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital and a post-doctoral research fellowship in cellular immunology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He is board-certified in both Surgery and Thoracic Surgery and has advanced expertise in robotic thoracic surgery. 

Dr. Burt leads an NIH-funded research laboratory and has completed several investigator-initiated clinical trials of novel immunotherapeutic strategies for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. He is an inventor and founder of a startup surgical device company and is a recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Michael E. DeBakey Service Award and the Buzz Frazier Innovation Award from the Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. 

In formalizing this transition, we extend our sincere gratitude to Dr. Jane Yanagawa, who served in the role of Interim Chief for the Division of Thoracic Surgery. Through Dr. Yanagawa’s leadership, the division has undergone important reorganization, which led to remarkable clinical and academic achievements. 

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Burt as the next Chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery. 

Chief of General Surgery at Santa Monica - UCLA Medical Center Transition

Dr. David Chen

We are pleased to announce the appointment of David C. Chen, MD as Chief of General Surgery at Santa Monica - UCLA Medical Center, effective on March 20, 2023. Dr. Chen takes over for Dr. Charles Chandler who has served as surgical leader at Santa Monica since 2003. 

A nationally recognized and respected clinician, surgeon and leader, Dr. Chen is Professor of Clinical Surgery, Director of the Lichtenstein-Amid Hernia Institute at UCLA, and a member of laparoscopic and robotic techniques for complex hernia repair, abdominal wall reconstruction, foregut and hiatal hernia surgery, and prevention and management of chronic post-herniorrhaphy pain. Dr. Chen served as President of the American Hernia Society in 2021 and received the Society's Nyhus-Wantz Lectureship Award in 2022. He is the president of the charity Hernia Repair for the Underserved and has a passion for training and serving in low resource regions providing care for patients in Haiti and Brazil.

Dr. Charles Chandler

In announcing this appointment, we recognize and thank Dr. Chandler for his many years of service as chief in Santa Monica. Under his leadership, Dr. Chandler was responsible for brining UCLA Surgery to Santa Monica Hospital and has expanded multispecialty surgical care at this site, improved quality, oversight, and outcomes, and created an outstanding rotation for surgical residents and students.

To assist Dr. Chen in this transition, Dr. Chandler will continue as Vice Chair for Surgical Services at Santa Monica until the end of the current academic year. 

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Chen in his new role and thanking Dr. Chandler for his dedication and continuing service.

Pediatric Surgery Leadership Transition 

Shant Shekherdimian

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Shant Shekherdimian as interim chief for the Department of Surgery, Division of Pediatric Surgery, effective January 23, 2023.

In this transition, we are saddened to announce the departure of Dr. Steven L. Lee, who has served as chief of the division of pediatric surgery since 2018, to accept a role at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington.

Dr. Shekherdimian joined the pediatric surgery faculty in 2014, having completed his general surgery residency at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and his pediatric surgery fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.  He is board-certified in general surgery and pediatric surgery and brings strong clinical expertise to the role including specialization in neonatal and acute care surgery. A Fulbright Scholar, his research is focused on the development of cancer screening programs in resource-limited settings. He has presented at over 120 conferences, published over 50 articles, and is a deeply committed educator, having mentored trainees in research related to pediatric surgery and global health. Most recently he has served as the Senior Advisor for the Ministry of Health in Armenia through a collaboration with the Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA.

In announcing this transition, we thank Dr. Lee for his years of outstanding leadership as division chief and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital surgeon-in-chief. He served as the department finance committee chair, lead in the community surgery programs and ambulatory surgery centers, and worked to expand UCLA pediatric surgery services including the establishment of the division as the DHS County preferred partner providing care to underserved communities and populations. Dr. Lee also spearheaded an initiative to enroll the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital in the American College of Surgeons Children’s Surgery Verification Improvement Program with close collaboration of hospital leadership and all pediatric surgical and medical specialties. Dr. Lee would like to acknowledge the division faculty, his colleagues in the department and collaborating departments, and especially the residents, trainees, and students.

Please join us in wishing Dr. Lee all the best on his new endeavor and congratulating Dr. Shekherdimian as he assumes his new role!

Trauma and Emergency Surgery and Surgical Critical Care Leadership Transition

Areti Tillou, MD

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Areti Tillou has been appointed Interim Chief for Chief of Trauma and Emergency Surgery and UCLA Health Executive Medical Director of Trauma Services, effective December 12, 2022.

Dr. Tillou is board-certified in Surgery and Surgical Critical Care, specializing in Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. In addition to serving as the Vice Chair for Education she serves as the founding Director of the UCLA Department of Surgery Accredited Education Institute (AEI), which is part of the Center for the Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT). Additionally, she serves as the Southern California State Chair of the Committee on Trauma for the American College of Surgeons.

David Machado-Aranda, MD

We are also pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. David Machado-Aranda as Interim Chief of Surgical Critical Care in the Department of Surgery beginning December 12, 2022.

Dr. Machado-Aranda will work and collaborate with Dr. Vadim Gudzenko, Chief of Critical Care Division in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine.

Dr. Machado-Aranda joined UCLA after completing a fellowship in Surgical Critical Care at the University of Michigan where he served on the faculty as a trauma and critical care surgeon for over a decade. He has extensive experience with advanced treatments including REBOA and ECMO and served on the University of Michigan critical care steering committee.

In announcing these transitions, we want to acknowledge Dr. Rochelle Dicker for her years of outstanding leadership and service as Vice Chair for Critical Care, Chief of Surgical Critical Care, Chief of Trauma and Emergency Surgery, and UCLA Health Executive Medical Director of Trauma Services.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Tillou and Dr. Machado-Aranda to their new roles.

Dr. Vincent Rowe joins Surgery as Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery

Vincent Rowe, MD

Dr. Vincent Lopez Rowe has joined the department of Surgery as Professor of Clinical Surgery and Chief of the Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Health. Dr. Rowe assumes this position as Dr. Peter Lawrence steps down after two decades in the role. 

Prior to his recruitment to UCLA, Dr. Rowe served as Professor of Clinical Surgery in the Division of Vascular Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. He also held the roles of Program Director for the Vascular Surgery Integrated and Independent Residencies; Director of Pediatric Vascular Surgical Services at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles; and Co-Director of the USC Center for Limb Preservation at Keck Medical Center, Southwestern Academic Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA). 

Dr. Rowe received his medical degree from the University of Southern California, completed internship and residency in General Surgery at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles, and completed Vascular Surgery fellowship training at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

Dr. Rowe is an accomplished investigator whose bibliography includes more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and more than 30 book chapters. He has received more than $1.7M in research funding. 

Dr. Rowe is a passionate leader in issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the vascular surgery community. Having served as the chair of the Society of Vascular Surgery Committee for Diversity for the past several years, Dr. Rowe is committed to the advancements of underrepresented groups both in clinical practice and patient access. His recent efforts include a comprehensive investigation of the specific, disparate issues of encountered by Hispanic vascular patients and co-founding of the Society of Black Vascular Surgeons. 

Dr. Rowe is a national leader in Vascular Surgery having held roles in the American Surgical Association, the American Board of Surgery, the Society of Vascular Surgery, the American College of Surgeons, the Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery, the Association Program Directors of Vascular Surgery, the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, the Society of Black Vascular Surgeons, and the American Heart Association. 

In announcing this transition, we wish to recognize Dr. Lawrence’s many years of exceptional leadership as Division Chief as well as his entire academic career, all of it characterized by highly distinguished contributions to the research, teaching, clinical, and community missions of our  Health System and School. We look forward to his continuing role as an Emeritus Professor for years to come.  

Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Transition

Peter Lawrence Oct.2018

It is with bittersweet emotions that we announce that Dr. Peter Lawrence, Chief of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, will be transitioning from his leadership role and into an initial phase of retirement later this year.  The transition will begin on December 1, 2022, when Dr. Vincent Rowe will join the department as the new Division Chief. Dr. Lawrence’s official retirement will begin on June 29, 2023, when he will become an Emeritus Professor of Surgery. 

Originally from the East Coast, Dr. Lawrence completed his undergraduate studies at Dartmouth College, received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed General Surgery residency and Vascular Surgery fellowship training at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Following training, Dr. Lawrence served as a faculty member and in various leadership positions at the University of Utah, including Chief of Vascular Surgery, Chief of Surgery at the VA and Vice Chair of Surgery over the span of two decades. 

Dr. Lawrence joined the department of Surgery at UCLA in 2003, following five years as Dean of Clinical Affairs at UC Irvine. Dr. Lawrence left UCI when his wife, the esteemed Karen Lawrence, PhD accepted a position as Dean of Humanities. His experience as Dean of Clinical Affairs provided important administrative experience but took him away from education, research, and clinical practice which are his preferred focus. The UCLA position was appealing from this perspective, and also offered an opportunity to build a relatively new Vascular Surgery division and navigate through a period of financial instability. 

Over the course of eight years, Dr. Lawrence transformed the divisional deficit into a surplus through a multi-faceted approach including recruitment of talented faculty members (Drs. Rigberg, DeRubertis, and Jimenez initially, followed by Drs. O’Connell, Farley, Yang, Woo, Rollo, and Ulloa), construction of a procedural center, and outsourcing some services, such as Wound Care. Podiatry joined the division more recently and has thrived under the leadership of Aksone Nouvong and David Aungst. All of these efforts were also generously aided by the late Leslie Gonda, who provided endowment funds to support many successful projects. 

These accomplishments in administrative leadership have been matched by Dr. Lawrence’s work in clinical surgery and education. There have also been important academic endeavors both within and outside of UCLA. 

Dr. Lawrence is a busy clinical surgeon. He has performed many innovative lower extremity revascularization procedures, as well as several of the first minimally invasive venous procedures performed in the US. Under his leadership, other clinical innovations by division faculty members include the first US commercial endograft placed by Drs. Wesley Moore and William Quinones-Baldrich, the first hybrid procedure for a thoracoabdominal aneurysm by Dr. Quinones, and many firsts in management of thoracic outlet syndrome by Dr. Hugh Gelabert.

Dr. Lawrence is a world-renowned surgical educator who has mentored countless medical students, residents, and fellows. He has been a visiting professor at over 55 medical schools throughout the world and his bibliography numbers more than 300 publications including research papers, textbooks, and chapters. His student textbook, Essentials of General Surgery and Essentials of Surgical Specialties, is now in its 6th edition and is used by the majority of the medical schools in the US. His contributions as a faculty member have helped to build the future of the vascular surgery field, as many of his trainees have ascended to leadership positions in Vascular Surgery. 

While at UCLA, Dr. Lawrence founded the Vascular Low-Frequency Diseases Consortium, comprised of 120 domestic and international institutions that study uncommon vascular diseases and continues today under Dr. Karen Woo’s direction. Dr. Lawrence has served as president of six Surgical and Vascular Surgical societies, including the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS), the preeminent vascular society. He is currently the Chair of the SVS Vascular Disease Foundation, which funds basic, translational, and clinical vascular care to underserved communities. He was also editor of four Vascular Surgery journals from 2016-2022. 

Dr. Lawrence has shared that none of this record of success would have been possible if not for the great team of staff, residents, and faculty that is UCLA Vascular Surgery. “The staff, too many to name, but led by Haruko Uchida, Carolina Valencia, and Rosa Trejo for many years, are less visible but the key to our success and the key to great patient care,” he says. Each year, Dr. Lawrence and his wife have hosted a summer swim party and a holiday party for the entire division that are as renowned – okay, nearly as renowned -- as his eminent career. He will deeply miss those collaborations and partnerships forged over the years. 

For the past 20 years, Dr. Lawrence has been an omnipresent supporter and mentor, providing countless opportunities to enhance my academic career.  I am profoundly grateful for the lessons learned and those he continues to impart.  He should serve as a benchmark for other academic leaders and mentors.  His lasting impact on the field of Vascular Surgery and the careers of young surgeons is immeasurable. -Juan Carlos (JC) Jimenez, Vice Chair of JEDI and Vascular Surgery faculty member. 

Dr. Lawrence is still determining whether he will remain involved in his scholarship activities and mentoring or begin full retirement in June, but the draw of more time with family is powerful. His wonderful wife, Karen, has had an eminent career including a decade as president of Sarah Lawrence College and now serves as president of the Huntington Library. The Lawrences have two adult sons and a grandson.

Wherever the course leads, it is with distinct gratitude that we celebrate and honor the contributions made by Dr. Peter Lawrence in our department at UCLA, nationally and around the world. We know that if the next chapter of his life is anything like that of chapters past, it will be filled with impact, honor, legacy and perhaps a dose of well-earned fun.

Dr. Joe Hines honored with Sherman M. Mellinkoff Faculty Award 

Joe Hines, MD

Dr. O. Joe Hines, interim chair of surgery department and UCLA's Robert and Kelly Day Professor of General Surgery, was selected as the 2022 Sherman M. Mellinkoff Faculty Award recipient. The award, which recognizes physicians who establish close doctor-patient relationships of high ethical standards, is considered by faculty to be the highest honor from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. 

Hines, who is also chair of the American Board of Surgery and president of the American Pancreatic Association, trained in general surgery at UCLA and joined the faculty in 1997. At UCLA, he has received the department's Golden Scalpel Award for teaching excellence 12 times and the UCLA School of Medicine Award for Excellence in Education.

His research has focused on angiogenesis, cytokines, and pancreatic carcinogenesis, including the role of diet in modulating theses processes. He served on the NIH Center for Scientific Review's committee on tumor progression and metastasis. Hines was awarded the American College of Surgeons traveling fellowship to Germany in 2005 and was named a James IV Traveling Fellow in 2011.