Department of Urology

September 27, 2018

Message from the Chair: September 2018

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.

At the outset of my 10th year serving as Chair of Urology, I want to take the opportunity in this message to acknowledge our tremendous academic year recently completed, welcome new faculty, staff and trainees, and celebrate recent successes of our team.

The clinical programs of the Department span 10 hospitals, more than 20 outpatient facilities and numerous training sites spanning a 1,500 mile radius, and many partner institutions. During the past year, we saw the continued expansion of our centers of excellence: Pediatric Urology (now ranked 8th by U.S. News and World Report) with the opening of North and South clinics in Everett and Federal Way, and Urological Oncology with the inauguration of a new SCCA based Multidisciplinary Kidney Cancer Clinic to optimize treatment for patients with complex renal cell cancers.

A sustained focus on our teaching program led to a successful reaccreditation of the Residency Program and the establishment of a new Fellowship in Endourology, thus bringing our postgraduate subspecialty training programs to 5. The year culminated in the Hirshler Endowed Lecture delivered on June 16, 2018 by Visiting Professor Cheryl Lee MD MPH, Chair of Urology at Ohio State University.

The Department, through the unceasing curiosity and work of its members, carries out high impact research across a range of disciplines from basic science and engineering to translational and health services studies. Under Dr. John Gore’s leadership, space and professional staff have been allocated to support the Urology Research Outcomes Center (UROC). Envisioned as a resource to spur innovation and support responses to new funding opportunities, UROC has facilitated major new grant initiatives in the areas of urinary stone disease, erectile dysfunction, and cancer prevention.

The culmination of this effort was the recent award of a PCORI grant to Dr. Gore and his collaborators at UW and UNC on the topic of intravesical chemotherapy versus bladder removal, a priority area for bladder cancer patients. The highly innovative work linking health services researchers and the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network opens new avenues for high impact research and translation into the clinic.

Other department highlights have included:

  • Appointment of Assistant Professors Jennifer Ahn MD MPH, Maahum Haider MD MPH, and Sarah Psutka MD MHA to enhance patient care, teaching and research in the areas of Pediatric Urology, General Urology, and Urological Oncology respectively.
  • The recruitment of prominent molecular biologist Li Xin Ph.D., and his prostate cancer research team to UW from Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Xin holds the Pritt Endowed Chair in Translational Prostate Cancer Research.
  • Thomas Lendvay MD will be recognized on October 15th, 2018 as the UW Medicine Inventor of the Year for his groundbreaking work in crowd-sourced assessment of technical skills.
  • The induction of Dr. Robert Sweet into the American College of Surgeons Master Teacher program in recognition of his major contributions to the field of simulation and surgical learning.
  • The renewal of the Pacific NW Prostate Cancer SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) to support a highly successful multidisciplinary team of clinical and basic researchers across UW, Fred Hutch, and other centers in U.S. and British Columbia.
  • The selection of the Department of Urology as one of only 4 residency programs in the U.S. to offer a competitive training program to support the career development of surgeon scientists during urology residency training (Urology Care Foundation Physician Scientist Resident Training Award).
  • NASA funding to study the potential of a novel ultrasound based treatment system for kidney stones in emergency settings, as proof of principle to mitigate stone events during space exploration.
  • The continuation of our new Residency Rotation in Anchorage Alaska, supporting our mission to extend urology education and training to the WWAMI region.

I am fortunate to work with an extremely talented faculty, staff, and group of trainees. They contain the “energy of activation” that allows programs to be created, scaled up, and taken to the next level.


Hunter Wessells, MD, FACS
Professor and Nelson Chair of Urology
Chair, Urinary Stone Disease Research Network