Skip to main content
Department of Urology

Message from the Chair

Dr. Hunter Wessells

Dr. Hunter Wessells, Department Chair and Professor of Urology

September 2017

The Department of Urology at the University of Washington offers a vibrant academic environment where we collectively Heal, Comfort, Teach and Wonder as part of our mission to improve health.

In June, we celebrated the completion of training for three Chief Residents and four Fellows. I am extremely proud of these exemplary men and women, whose leadership, knowledge, technical skill and professional standards will carry forward into their new clinical and academic roles. Also of note, four UW School of Medicine graduates were accepted into Urology residency programs this year, at UCLA, UC Irvine, Case Western and Minnesota.

Our own residency program seeks to recruit the most talented and diverse trainees, provide outstanding clinical and surgical training, and develop leaders in urology, both for community and academic practice. To this end, it is my great pleasure to welcome our new trainees to the department. Our three general surgery interns join the department fresh from medical school: Edward Chang, MD (UCLA), Catalina Hwang, MD (Tufts) and Lauren Poniatowski, MD (Minnesota). Our five dynamic new fellows bring a wealth of experience in adult and pediatric urology from around the country.

As we gear up for the recruitment season, I am pleased to share that our department is a finalist for a Urology Care Foundation Physician Scientist Residency Training Award, supporting three years of additional research training during residency. This award would provide a unique opportunity for greater depth and duration of training with our long-term investment in faculty development and a culture of collaboration with scientists across the full range of the exceptional UW research environment. Such an award aligns perfectly with our mission to educate for the future by providing research training for candidates interested in a urological surgeon-scientist career.

This year, eleven of our faculty ranked among Seattle Met’s Top Doctors list, chosen by their doctor, nurse and physician assistant peers as being the best in their respective medical specialties. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked Seattle Children’s Hospital as the #1 urology program in the Northwest – and among the best nationally – for 2017. Also at Children’s, the Differences in Sex Development Program was named a Center of Excellence by the National Institutes of Health.

In recent faculty news, Dr. Jonathan Wright has been selected as President-elect of the Washington Urological Society, effective in 2018, while Dr. Tom Walsh has been appointed Vice-chair for Clinical Practice in the Department. These appointments, along with the addition of four new clinical faculty members from Northwest Urology, enrich our ability to sustain growth and maintain excellence in clinical care.

Among our many recent milestones, the UW Medicine Kidney Stone Center at Northwest Hospital – with its associated Urinary Stone Disease Research Network Clinical Center – recently celebrated its first anniversary. In a notable interdisciplinary effort, Adjunct Professor Larry True helped develop a cutting-edge tumor scanning microscope with colleagues from UW Mechanical Engineering that can examine cancer biopsies in 3-D.

Over the summer we hosted the 3rd annual men’s health update CME course, in which 14 UW Urology faculty, five UW faculty members from other departments, two UW Urology residents, and one physical therapist presented on topics in prostate cancer, male sexual, hormonal and reproductive health, kidney stones and male voiding dysfunction, among others. Additionally, Drs. John Gore and Suzette Sutherland participated in popular online “Morning CME” courses co-hosted by UW Medicine/Virginia Mason on contemporary management of the small renal mass and stress urinary incontinence, respectively.

As one of the Department’s staunchest supporters, bladder cancer survivor Howard Cohen has been instrumental in raising not only awareness of the disease, but research dollars to fund the critical work being conducted by our researchers. Despite its prevalence, high cost of treatment and high mortality rate, bladder cancer receives considerably less research money than most other cancers, such as those of the breast, prostate, lung and blood. His Foundation’s 4th annual golf tournament this summer raised more than $22,000 to support the work of our genitourinary oncology lab in advancing the fight against bladder cancer.

With Accelerate: The Campaign for UW Medicine well underway, private support is shortening the distance to healthier lives. You can join us in our mission to improve health by making a gift to support the work of the department in any number of priority areas – from oncology research to global health initiatives to resident travel assistance.

I invite you to contact me with any questions about the UW Department of Urology.


Hunter Wessells, MD, FACS
Professor and Nelson Chair of Urology