University of Pennsylvania Health System
3400 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
|Number of Fellowships: 2
Duration (in years) : 1 year
Gregory S. Weinstein, M.D.
Ara Chalian, M.D.
Bert W. O’Malley, Jr., M.D.
Jason G. Newman, M.D.
Christopher Rassekh, M.D.
Steven Cannady, MD
Rabie Shanti, M.D.
Devraj Basu, MD
Robert Brody, MD
Karthik Rajasekaran, MD
Overview: The management of patients with head and neck cancer is one of the most challenging areas of modern medicine. From the huge impact that these cancers have on patient and family lives to the multi-disciplinary teams that need to coordinate their care, to the incredibly complex and varied surgeries and other therapies that are required a achieve the best outcomes, a Head and Neck Surgeon needs to be prepared to lead and orchestrate a team of caregivers to achieve the best outcomes. The Head and Neck, Microvascular, and Skull Base Fellowship at Penn will arm you to achieve these goals.
At Penn, we have innovated and pioneered many surgical and non-surgical approaches to the management of these complex cancers, with the clear goals of improving survival and functional results, and achieving the best outcomes for our patients. The overall approach is to focus on cancer control while optimizing functional outcomes. At times, surgery is superior in the oropharynx and larynx for both cancer control and better functional outcome. This is accomplished with the judicious use of a variety of surgical approaches, such as endoscopic laser approaches, transoral robotic surgery utilizing the da Vinci Surgical System, transcervical resection, open or endoscopic partial laryngectomy, and free flap reconstructions.
While it is critical to understand the importance and efficacy of non-surgical therapies, a head and neck surgeon should never have to be in a position to offer non-surgical treatment to patients because they do not feel comfortable performing the full spectrum of surgical techniques that are available for their patients. The goal and educational emphasis of our fellowship is to provide a learning environment that allows our fellows to mature into surgeons that view themselves as the advocate for the surgical approaches when surgery is the superior modality for a given patient and cancer.
Strengths: There are many strengths of the Head and Neck Fellowship at Penn. The fellows work with 10 different surgical faculty, at all stages of their careers, and with a variety of different interests and skills. The clinical strengths of the program include learning a full complement of organ preservation surgery (i.e., supracricoid partial laryngectomy, endoscopic laser laryngeal surgery for cancer), Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) utilizing the da Vinci Surgical System, complex thyroid and parathyroid surgery, advanced cutaneous and sentinel lymph node surgery, parotid surgery, microvascular free flap surgery, sialoendoscopy and endoscopic and open cranial base surgery.
The graduating fellow will have trained under multiple microvascular and reconstructive head and neck surgeons, with over 200 cases per year between them, creating a level of comfort and competence that will help provide a strong foundation for a career that includes microvascular surgery.
The graduating fellow will be armed with the technical and perioperative management skills necessary to treat the complex head and neck problems, as well as the skills to manage all aspects of “general” head and neck surgical oncology. The University of Pennsylvania Center for Head and Neck Cancer is the first service in the world to offer Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) for the diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant lesions of the upper aerodigestive tract, and still remains one of the foremost institutions in the world for this technique. The TORS training program includes hands on cadaver training in our TORS training laboratory which is located in our department. We also offer post-graduate TORS training and have regularly scheduled TORS trainings that allow fellows to observe numerous TORS cadaver training sessions as well.
It is our opinion that this fellowship creates a strong and broad foundation for an academic Head and Neck Surgeon. Our emphasis on a strong surgical foundation combined with a focus on academic program and practice building will arm the graduate with the tools to become a future leader in the field of Head and Neck Oncology. The goal of the program has been to help the recent fellowship graduates to transition into being independent practitioners in Head and Neck Oncology.
Fellows’ Duties/Responsibilities: The Head and Neck Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania is a clinically oriented 12-month experience, designed to provide advanced training in all aspects of the care of the head and neck cancer patient. During this time, the fellow will be mentored by the full-time head and neck faculty, as well as by a team comprised of medical oncologists, radiation oncologist, pathologists, and radiologists. They will work at, and cover both the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Hospital. The fellow works closely in the operating room with the supervising attending surgeons, and will actively participate in the training of residents. The fellow is involved in both ablative and reconstructive aspects of patient care. Comprehensive management of the patient is emphasized, and the fellow will be involved in the initial consults, preoperative visits, tumor board discussions, and postoperative care of the patients. This continuity of care allows for a better understanding of the full process of cancer management. Fellows are involved in clinic one-half day per week. They attend meetings of the PENN Center for Head and Neck Cancer, with presentation of approximately 800 new head and neck cases per year. This multidisciplinary treatment conference familiarizes the fellow with both surgical and non-surgical approaches in the management of head and neck cancer. As a junior member of the faculty, the fellow will also have an independent half-day clinic, and will diagnose, treat, and care for patients in this setting.
Fellows are given a professional fee allowance to use for travel, conference fees and other expenses. The department pays for a set of 3.5 loupes, DEA and PA license, and tuition for the ACS Ultrasound course, which is hosted by our faculty at Penn.
Research Opportunities: Research and teaching opportunities are also available and encouraged. The staff is available and interested in fostering clinical research.
The program has a very strong track record in academic job placement nationally. Our faculty is committed to helping our graduates find the right jobs, and mentoring them throughout their careers as members of the Penn Community.
2018 Ted Gomez – Beth Israel, Boston
2018 Brianna Harris – Senta Clinic, San Diego
2017 Punam Thakkar – George Washington University
2017 Karthik Rajasekaran – University of Pennsylvania
2016 Benjamin Hodnett – Mercy Clinic, Missouri
2016 Kyle Hatten – University of Maryland
2015 Kunal Jain – University of Texas, Houston
2015 Alexandra Keiner – University of Kentucky
2014 Raymond Chai – Mt. Sinai, New York
2014 Mihir Patel – Emory University
2013 JK Rasamny – Westchester, New York
2013 Andrew Terrell – Sandford Health, South Dakota
2012 Andrew Cowan – Unversity of New Mexico
2012 Courtney Shires – University of Tennessee
2011 Tom Thomas – Brigham & Women’s / Harvard University
2010 Carlos Perez Mitchell – Memorial Health Care, Florida
2009 Jason Diaz – Washington University in St. Louis
2008 Niels Kokut – University of Southern California
2007 Devraj Basu – University of Pennsylvania
2006 Ray Blanco – Johns Hopkins
2005 Jason Newman – University of Pennsylvania
2004 Miriam Lango – MD Anderson Cancer Center
2003 Richard Wein – Tufts, Boston
2002 Duane Sewell – Univesity of Maryland (deceased)
2001 Michael K Kim – Los Alamitos, California
2000 Mouwafak Al Rawi – West Virginia University
1999 Diane Duffey – New Haven, Connecticut
1998 John Goldenberg – Otolaryngology Associates, Indianapolis, Indiana