The Legacy and Future of Yale Urology

Trail Blazers. Surgeon-researchers. Clinic-central.

Just a few terms to describe the past and present leadership of the Yale School of Medicine Department of Urology at its recent “Honoring Our Legacy” event.

As the specialty celebrates 10 years as an official department within the school, Yale’s urology care, research, and education go back much further, as current president Isaac Y. Kim, MD, PhD, MBA.

The first cystoscopy [a procedure to help view the urinary tract] performed in New Haven, in 1913, was performed by a Yale professor. Urological surgery quickly became a discipline in its own right, which included treatments for prostate and bladder cancer.

Urology residency originated at Yale in 1924, producing several academic leaders in the field. In the late 1960s, Yale’s chief of urology, Bernard Lytton, MD, was instrumental in starting Connecticut’s first dialysis unit. He was also involved in the first kidney transplant.

In 1987, Robert Weiss, MD, was at the helm. He started Yale’s pediatric urology program, established an active research lab, and led several collaborations, including a major partnership with radiology to treat renal obstructions.

“Now Dr. Kim is creating both a and education-based urology destination center here,” Weiss boasted during the April 29and event, which was attended by Yale Urology faculty, residents, clinical providers and alumni.

Kim is only the second chair of urology since becoming an independent department. Peter G. Schulam, MD, PhD, was the first to come to Yale from UCLA in 2012. Schulam is now global head of medical devices at Johnson & Johnson.

He says he eventually turned to industry because of his love of surgery and answering provocative research questions – things he learned in academia. He sees a real opportunity for greater collaboration across sectors by helping to design technology that improves what surgeons do.

“When someone is diagnosed with prostate cancer or bladder cancer, the first thing they ask is, ‘Where do I go for treatment?’ [As a specialty, globally] we are not yet where we need to be. These treatments and remedies should be as safe and typical as flying in an airplane,” Schulam said. “I think the future is certainly bright for urology at Yale,” he added. “We have national visibility [in attracting new faculty and residents].”

Current faculty and residents presented several examples of forward-thinking processes/studies underway in the department or under study, such as:

  • Targeted therapy for locally advanced and metastatic urothelial cancer
  • A qualitative/patient-centered approach to the diagnosis/treatment/surveillance of prostate cancer
  • Describe health care disparities further as structural factors
  • Using machine learning and data science to reduce the need for certain biopsies
  • Use of ablation/focal therapy for more cases of prostate cancer
  • Ongoing Improvements/Modifications to HoLEP Surgery (Holmium Laser Enucleation of the Prostate) [currently the only provider of this procedure in Connecticut.]
  • An Innovative “At the Bedside” Approach to Urological Research and Tumor Treatment
  • A new course in robotic surgery
  • Identify increased risk in patients with sarcopenia from mRCC (metastatic renal cell carcinoma)
  • Ongoing review of opioid use within the surgical community
  • Research on the science/prevention strategies for women’s bladder health

“I think a lot of exciting work is going on in our department,” Kim said. “It gives a glimpse into the future and what will become of Yale Urology.”

A living, evolving legacy with just the right combination of world-class patient care, innovative research and training for promising urologists.

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