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Dr. Jason Sicklick Appointed Executive Vice Chair for Research

By Tiffany Fox

Our Department is thrilled to announce the appointment of Jason Sicklick, MD, to the role of Executive Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Surgery effective June 1. Dr. Sicklick is a highly accomplished clinician-scientist whose portfolio of research activities spans practice-changing clinical trials, sophisticated translational science, and provocative health services research. His extraordinary record of success in these domains will be fundamental to driving needed change in our research infrastructure, organizational structure, and processes.

Dr. Sicklick is a graduate of the UCR/UCLA Biomedical Sciences Program, completing his MD from UCLA in 2000. These programs afforded Dr. Sicklick an early introduction to basic and clinical medical research working with Drs. Jeff Matthews, Frances Jurnak, and Julie Freischlag. He matriculated to the General Surgery Residency program at Johns Hopkins during which he completed a three-year research fellowship working in the laboratory of Dr. Anna Mae Diehl, a distinguished academic gastroenterologist whose laboratory focused on studying developmental and regenerative pathways in models of chronic liver disease and neoplasia. Dr. Diehl transitioned from Johns Hopkins to Duke University during Dr. Sicklick's research fellowship, which gave me an opportunity to meet him and appreciate his talents. Following residency training, Dr. Sicklick completed a surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he furthered his interests in sarcoma and hepatobiliary oncology.

Drs. Mark Talamini and Andrew Lowy skillfully recruited Dr. Sicklick to UC San Diego in 2010 and provided an environment, in collaboration with partners from the Moores Cancer Center, where he has truly blossomed. In a short ten-year period, Dr. Sicklick has helped establish UC San Diego as a premier destination for the care of patients with complex abdominal sarcomas and as one of the leading research centers for understanding the biology of gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Critical to his success has been a remarkable ability to secure NIH, societal, philanthropic, and industry funding, including an NIH K08 in 2014 that was quickly followed by an NIH R21 in 2016 and two R01 grants in 2019 from the NIH and FDA. He has secured more than $1 million dollars in philanthropic grants over the past several years and, along with Dr. Razelle Kurzrock, led an industry-funded clinical trial in personalized cancer therapy (I-PREDICT), the results of which were published in Nature Medicine this past year. Dr. Sicklick has served as a research and clinical mentor for countless students and residents and for the past six years has served as an associate program director for the General Surgery Residency. One of his principal roles in that capacity has been in the leadership of the resident research fellowship helping to guide trainees into successful mentored experiences with faculty inside and outside of the Department.

The Department of Surgery at UC San Diego has from the outset been an exceptional academic department with pockets of innovation and research excellence. Indeed, it has forged new approaches for pulmonary hypertension; burn wound coverage, trauma resuscitation, lymph node staging in cancer, otitis, achalasia, and other conditions. Our current faculty have contributed greatly to the biologic understanding of liver injury, pancreatic cancer, head and neck cancer, lung cancer, sepsis, and many other surgically oriented diseases. While surgical departments face many challenges in developing research programs, I am confident that with proper stewardship and the infusion of resources, we can continue to build upon our successes and continue to make improvements in care for our current and future patients. Dr. Sicklick will no doubt bring extraordinary energy and creativity to his new role as he works with you to facilitate the success of our research programs. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Sicklick to this role.

The Department is deeply indebted to Dr. Andrew Baird for his service in this role for many years. His enthusiasm for the research agenda has always been palpable. Dr. Baird will be winding down his responsibilities as Chair of the University Committee on Research Policy with plans for retirement in the fall. Please also join me in thanking Dr. Baird for his service.