General and Gastrointestinal Surgery: Our Heritage

The Division of General and Gastrointestinal Surgery has been a core component of the Department of Surgery since the department’s inception, providing the basis for the full spectrum of surgical care. A division with many proud firsts, General and Gastrointestinal Surgery boasts notable surgical advances and exceptional specialists who have set the standard for today’s modern general surgeon.

More than fifty years ago, Francis D. Moore, MD, began his important work in the metabolic care of the surgical patient. He contributed to the understanding of how bodily fluids and chemicals change during surgery, and was instrumental in the development of organ transplantation and the care of critically ill surgical patients. Then known as Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) became one of the first hospitals nationwide to dedicate a postoperative unit to the critical care of surgical patients.

In the 1970s, John Brooks, MD spearheaded major strides in pancreatic surgery and benign esophageal surgery. General surgeon Richard E. Wilson, MD played an active role in developing the subspecialty of surgical oncology.

In 1998, the Department of Surgery reformulated its multidisciplinary intensive care unit team and started the BWH surgical intensive care service consisting of general surgeons, anesthesiologists, pulmonologists and thoracic surgeons.

Michael J. Zinner, MD, chairman of the Department of Surgery and surgeon-in-chief of BWH, served as chief of the Division of General and Gastrointestinal Surgery from 1994 to 2000. Francis D. Moore, Jr., MD has headed the division since then.

Outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, The STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation opened in 2004. The Center expanded in 2008, adding full-scale computer-based operating rooms that enable surgeons and surgical residents to refine their surgical skills.

In 2005, BWH established the Center for Surgery and Public Health, a joint program of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health to advance the science of surgical care delivery.

With the opening of the Advanced Multimodality Image Guided Operating (AMIGO) Suite in 2011, surgeons gained access to an all-inclusive medical and surgical research environment, equipped with an array of imaging equipment and surgical systems. Surgical teams move seamlessly and collaboratively throughout this research suite as they access state-of-the-art imaging and surgical technologies, before, during and after procedures.

Atul Gawande, MD, general and endocrine surgeon, led the World Health Organization's Safe Surgery Saves Lives Initiative which resulted in the Surgical Safety Checklist that continues to reduce surgery-related complications at hospitals worldwide. Dr. Gawande documented his experience in his 2013 New York Times Bestseller, The Checklist Manifesto.

Internationally recognized for their expertise in diseases of the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal gland, surgeons in the Thyroid Center perform over 600 procedures each year. The Thyroid Nodule Clinic maintains a registry of 10,000 thyroid nodule biopsy results, used for both research and patient monitoring.

Colorectal surgeons improve patient outcomes and reduce lengths of stay by following an enhanced recovery protocol in conjunction with nursing staff from the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation.

Nationally accredited as a comprehensive bariatric surgery center since 2006, the Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery is currently accredited through the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP), a joint accreditation of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

As the Division of General and Gastrointestinal Surgery moves into the future, our surgeons will continue paving the way as physician leaders — advancing research that leads to innovative treatment solutions, educating future surgeons and constantly improving the quality of care we provide to each patient.

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