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Chairman's Message

Lee Ponsky, MD
Lee Ponsky, MD: Chairman, UH Urology Institute

I am honored and excited to lead the University Hospitals Urology Institute which has a legacy of training leaders in the field and rich tradition of excellence in patient care, research and postgraduate training.

We have experienced significant growth over the past year with eight new urologists hired for strategic roles throughout our regional system. We welcomed Dr. Jason Jankowski, fellowship trained and specializing in the area of robotics and urologic oncology; Dr. Aram Loeb, who is fellowship trained in male sexual dysfunction focusing on prosthetics, peyronie’s and male infertility; Dr. Anand Patel, former UH graduate and fellowship trained in endourology; Dr. Nannan Thirumavalavan fellow trained in men’s health and male infertility and the Chief of Male Reproductive Health; Dr. Adam Calaway, fellowship trained in urologic oncology and robotic surgery ; Dr. Shubham Gupta fellowship trained in reconstructive urology and genitourinary cancer survivorship and will be establishing our comprehensive surgical gender affirmation program; and Dr. Kyle Scarberry our recent graduating chief resident in 2019 returning as faculty for the division of reconstruction after completing his fellowship and will serve an Associate Program Director beginning 2020.

The Urology Institute continues to be a leader amongst Urology departments across the country with the amount of NIH, VA, and extramural research funding. These efforts are led by Dr. Adonis Hijaz, Vice Chair of Academics and Research, Dr. Sanjay Gupta the Carter Kissel Professor and basic science research director, as well as our Director of Clinical Research Brit Conroy, MD, PhD, JD, MS. Our clinical research also remains very productive as evidenced by last year’s numbers for Department faculty and residents having over 54 different abstracts, publications and presentations accepted.

Translational research remains very active and a high priority for the Institute. We have established what we describe as our Parallel Paths. The Parallel Paths allows our busy clinical faculty to partner with our robust research team and infrastructure to provide all faculty, residents and fellows the opportunity to be academically productive with the help of our research team and resources. We started our new prostate program where novel MRI techniques are used to identify and localize prostate cancer not easily identified with conventional ultrasound imaging. We have also developed techniques to perform in gantry MRI guided prostate biopsy which promises to reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies and identify lethal versus indolent cancer, this work has led to an RO1 NIH grant. Translational research in the area of urinary incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction is led by Dr. Adonis Hijaz who is also NIH funded. Research by Dr. Hijaz’s team has shown that the use of patient derived stem cells can correct certain forms of urinary incontinence. Furthermore, the group has also developed a proprietary biodegradable mesh which avoids the complications associated with conventional synthetic mesh used to correct female related urinary incontinence.

The residency training program has grown even stronger under the guidance of Dr. Lynn Woo. We remain committed to the protected year of research where residents are encouraged and supported to pursue hypothesis-generated ideas with faculty mentorship and guidance. I believe we have one of the most diverse residency programs offered across the country. We are proud that 50% of our residents are women, 50% of our residents are minority and 10 languages are fluently spoken amongst them. Our highly valued diversity of training regardless of gender, race and sexual orientation, remains amongst the best offered in the country with rotations at University Hospitals, the Cleveland VA (third largest in the United States), MetroHealth Medical Center (County hospital), and an international one month rotation in Chile. University Hospitals is now a level one trauma center, so the opportunity to diagnose and manage patients with genitourinary trauma in both an acute and delayed setting is another added feature of the training program. We are also proud to note that two of this year’s chief residents were accepted into their choice fellowships in the pursuit of an academic career.

We continue to offer the most advanced robotic and laparoscopic approaches for all genitourinary malignancies. We have developed enhanced recovery protocols for our genitourinary oncology patients in order to improve perioperative outcomes, reduce hospital stay, and decrease readmissions. The Urology Institute’s Center for Outcomes Research and Quality Improvement, which focuses on comparative effectiveness research dedicated to improving the processes of care and health outcomes for patients diagnosed with urologic diseases, continues to grow. The group uses administrative data and patient-reported outcomes to improve the quality of urologic care, and address healthcare disparities for vulnerable populations with cancer.

The pediatric urology division provides state of the art family centered care for children and adolescents with congenital and acquired conditions of the kidneys, bladder and genitalia. We have a comprehensive voiding dysfunction program employing minimally invasive diagnostic and treatment modalities including an effective biofeedback program and Botox bladder injections for complex voiding problems. We also have an active minimally invasive program including robotic surgery for urinary tract reconstruction and endoscopic management for urinary tract stones, vesicoureteral reflux and congenital obstructions in infants. The pediatric urology division participates in national collaborative studies of pediatric genitourinary cancers including Wilms tumor, bladder tumors, and testicular tumors. Dr. Lynn Woo leads these efforts.

The Urology Institute offers genitourinary reconstruction for men with urethral stricture, hypospadias, pelvic trauma, concealed penis, and urethral fistula. Surgical expertise is also now available for men with erectile dysfunction as a result of curvature or scarring of the penis, a condition known as Peyronie’s disease. We also offer placement of inflatable penile prostheses for men who have failed other forms of treatment for erectile dysfunction.

The Urology Institute at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center/ Case Western Reserve University continues to provide outstanding patient care, urologic training, and translational research. We have formal didactic conferences including; Indications conference, grand rounds, IVP conference, M&M, tumor board, Campbell’s club, journal club, city wide pediatric urology journal club, and yearly visiting professors. Each resident class is assigned a faculty mentor for the extent of their residency as well.

We are extremely excited about the significant growth of the Urology Institute so far and there is more to come… We remain committed to teaching and ensuring a comfortable environment to learn. We couldn’t be more proud of our current and former residents and couldn’t be more excited to meet the ones yet to come.

Please do not hesitate to contact me or visit us here in Cleveland.