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dr. al refaieCreighton University School of Medicine and CHI Health have announced a new Chair for the School's Department of Surgery: UC San Diego Department of Surgery alumnus Waddah B. Al-Refaie, MD, FACS.

As chair, Dr. Al-Refaie will oversee and direct the clinical, research, education, academic and innovative missions of general surgery, colorectal, trauma/acute care surgery, cardiovascular, and thoracic surgery at Creighton and CHI Health.

Dr. Al-Refaie comes to Creighton from MedStar Health and Georgetown University, where he served as regional chief of Surgical Oncology, the John S. Dillon Chair in Surgical Oncology and Surgeon in Chief of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

He is a fellowship-trained surgical oncologist with more than 15 years of expertise in gastric cancer, skin cancer and soft tissue sarcomas. He obtained his medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. After finishing an internship at Al-Amiri Hospital in Kuwait, he completed his residency at UC San Diego. He then completed a surgical oncology fellowship at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Prior to Georgetown, Al-Refaie served as the co-director of the University of Minnesota Surgical Outcomes Research Center.

He has over 130 peer-reviewed publications, books, and book chapters covering various aspects of surgical oncology including variations and disparities in surgical care and has earned numerous honors and awards for his work. He is an invited speaker on gastric cancer, soft tissue sarcomas and advanced cutaneous cancers. Al-Refaie has helped establish cancer surgery standards for gastric cancer, GI cancer, and soft tissue sarcomas as part of the American College of Surgery Cancer initiatives.

Here we speak with Dr. Al-Refaie about his experience as a resident at UC San Diego, his motivation for becoming chair and his goals for surgery at Creighton University.

Q: What was your experience like as a General Surgery resident at UC San Diego?
A: It was a fantastic educational experience second to none. The operative experience is vast, the team spirit is high, and the commitment to proudly represent UC San Diego is unwavering.

Q: What have been some of your accomplishments since leaving UC San Diego?
A: The opportunity to work with and learn from outstanding clinicians, scientists, and learners to advance the field of surgery overall and especially surgical oncology (namely gastric cancer, soft tissue sarcomas, and melanoma) is impeccable.

Also, collaborating with expert colleagues to promote equity and reduce disparities in surgery at the institute and national levels has been an important part of my career journey.

As a native of Kuwait, having received the inaugural Gulf Cooperation Council Award of Merit is one of highest honors bestowed upon on me.

Q: What drove you to want to become Chair of a department of surgery?
A: The reason behind my decision is largely inspired by the foundational tenants of surgical training at UC San Diego (the late Dr. Moossa, Dr. Hoyt, the late Dr. Orloff) and MD Anderson (Drs. Pollock, Curley, Pisters). That is to train surgeons who aspire to make a positive difference and influence our field with large scale and impact.

Q: What are some of your goals as Chair of Surgery for Creighton?
A: Creighton Surgery is the home of many outstanding leaders in the United States, including Drs. Claude Organ, Danny Jacobs, Tom DeMeester, and Robert Fitzgibbons. I fully recognize that I am honored to follow and live up to an amazing legacy of excellence in surgery, academia, resident education, and diversity.

Building on this legacy and in collaboration with colleagues at Creighton and CHI Health, the vision is to grow the surgical subspecialties, enhance our academic brand and rigor thorough extra-mural scientific inquiries, grow Creighton’s Crown Jewel (The residency), push the surgical innovation arm, and strongly advance the agendas of diversity, equity, and inclusion among faculty, learners, and team members.