Surgeons: Ahmed Ghazi, MD and Michael Stifelman, MD

Moderator/Discussant: Steven Shichman, MD

Ahmed Ghazi, MD

Dr. Ghazi MD, FEBU, MSc, received his degree from Cairo University, Egypt in 2000, where he also completed his surgery training and Urology residency 2001-2005. Following his training he completed a series of worldwide fellowships in state-of-the-art minimal invasive Urological surgery, in Paris and Austria (2009-2011), where he received his accreditation from the European Board of Urology. He completed his training at the University of Rochester, New York completing a fellowship in the robotic treatment of various urologic cancers (2011-2013).

He was appointed Assistant professor of Urology at the University of Rochester (2013). Dr. Ghazi specializes in the diagnosis and minimal invasive treatment of urological cancers as well as complex stone disease. In addition to his clinical duties he perused research grants in education, simulation research and surgical training. To further enhance his educational background, he was awarded the George Corner Deans Teaching fellowship (2014-2016), completed the Harvard Macy Institute program for Educators in Health Professions in 2016 and a Masters in Health Professions Education program at the Warner School of Education, University of Rochester (2016-2020).

In 2015, Dr. Ghazi was appointed as the Director of Simulation Training for the Department of Urology and sough to enhance the role of simulation in surgical disciplines. Unsatisfied with the generic representation of commercial surgical simulators, he teamed up with biomedical engineers for the development of realistic organ models that feel, act and look like human organs to enhance the efficiency, safety and comprehensiveness of surgical training.

Dr. Ghazi with a team of biomedical engineers has merged the age-old practice of surgery with a newly emerging technology of 3D printing to build personalized replicas of bodily organs. This innovative technology, when placed in the hands of doctors through medical simulation has improved outcomes for patients of all ages with reduced time in the operating rooms, reduced blood loss and reduced surgical complications. Ultimately, this innovative and disruptive approach to personalized surgical rehearsal has led to safer surgeries at the University of Rochester.

Dr. Ghazi was awarded several awards at international scientific conferences as well as grants including a Clinical and Translational Science Award (2017), academic PI of a NIH, STTR grant, and NIH, NIBIB grant to evaluate the impact of hydrogel models including generic and patient specific variations to evaluate translational impact of simulation on improving surgical performance and patient outcomes. Dr. Ghazi believes in a reciprocal relationship between research, teaching & surgery, where each informs & strengthens the others. He strives to produce academically rigorous research that is theoretically sound but translates directly into a safer surgical environment with reduced surgical errors and improved patient outcomes.

Michael D. Stifelman, M.D.

Michael D. Stifelman, M.D., (born May 7, 1967), an internationally recognized American physician and urologist, is known for his work in upper tract urinary reconstructive surgery and use of multi- and single-port robotic surgical technology to perform complex cancer and non-cancer urological procedures. An innovator in the field of urological surgery, Dr. Stifelman leads a renowned Center of Excellence for robotic surgery at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, New Jersey, and serves as chair of the hospital’s Department of Urology.

Dr. Stifelman has performed more than 3,000 robotic procedures and has pioneered more than a dozen minimally invasive surgical procedures. He has performed more robotic partial nephrectomies and upper urinary tract reconstructions than any surgeon in the New York metropolitan area. He is also one of the top 5 urologists in New Jersey for performing robotic prostate removal (prostatectomy).

In November 2018, Hackensack University Medical Center was among the first hospitals in the world — and the first hospital in New Jersey, and one of only 10 in the U.S. — to acquire the da Vinci SP® single-port system to perform complex urological procedures. Under Dr. Stifelman’s leadership, the team has performed more than 280 single port urological surgeries in 2019-2020 — one of the largest single port surgical series in the world.

In total, Dr. Stifelman’s team at Hackensack University Medical Center has performed more than 8,500 robotic surgical procedures, placing the group in the upper echelon of the field.

Dr. Stifelman has played a key role in developing and directing a robotic simulation skills lab, as well as designing and launching near-infrared fluorescence imaging for renal surgery, drop-in technology to enhance surgeon autonomy, tissue grafting for ureteral reconstruction, and the use of interoperative 3D virtual imaging. Each year, Dr. Stifelman travels nationally and internationally to teach advanced robotic surgical techniques to improve outcomes for patients around the world.

Additionally, Dr. Stifelman currently serves as Professor and Chairman of Urology at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. Committed to the education and mentoring of the next generation of medical professionals, Dr. Stifelman has led the Department of Urology’s education efforts, offering best-in-class educational opportunities for residents and medical students.

Dr. Stifelman has been an invited lecturer and guest surgeon in 18 countries across six continents. He also collaborates with physicians at other institutions to pursue research initiatives aimed at improving best practices in robotic-assisted surgery. His research focuses on developing and evaluating new technology and applying it in the operating room. He has published 239 peer-reviewed articles and abstracts, 25 invited reviews/book chapters and 35 surgical technique videos that have been distributed by the American Urologic Association, European Urology and World Congress of Endourology.

Steven Shichman, MD

Dr. Shichman specializes in robotic surgery, renal cancer and adrenal disorders. Following his education and work experience as a chemical engineer, Dr. Shichman earned his medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in 1986. He completed his General Surgery and Urology training at the University of Connecticut as well. He also completed a fellowship in Laparoscopy and Minimally-Invasive Surgery at New York Hospital and Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Shichman is a pioneer in urologic minimally-invasive surgery and is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in the field. He is among the country’s most experienced surgeons in laparoscopic adrenalectomy, laparoscopic nephrectomy and robotic partial nephrectomy. As a course director for the American Urological Association (AUA) postgraduate courses from 1999-2013, he has taught laparoscopic techniques to more than 1,200 urologists from around the world. He continues as AUA faculty lecturing on laparoscopic and adrenal surgery for the American Board of Urology. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Shichman has helped develop the Hartford Hospital’s Department of Urology’s nationally and internationally recognized reputation for innovation in laparoscopic, robotic and oncologic surgery. This department has hosted numerous post-graduate courses in minimally-invasive surgery, including national symposiums on robotic and oncologic urologic surgery. As Physician-in-Chief of the Tallwood Urology and Kidney Institute, he leads the largest and most experienced group of urologists, nephrologists and urogynecologists in New England. Dr. Shichman is also the executive director of Hartford Hospital’s Center for Education, Simulation and Innovation (CESI), one of the country’s largest and most comprehensive medical simulation training centers.