Dr. David Gerber named chair of the Department of Surgery

Surgeon-scientist is an expert in solid organ transplantation and liver cancer

David A. Gerber, MD, has been appointed chair of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine Department of Surgery, effective on or before Nov. 1, pending approval of the UC Board of Trustees, Andrew T. Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean, has announced. The appointment culminates a highly competitive search that received significant national attention.

Gerber, who also will hold the Christian R. Holmes Memorial Chair of Surgery, currently is the George F. Sheldon Distinguished Professor with Tenure at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) School of Medicine and vice chair of the Department of Surgery at UNC. He also is chief of the Division of Abdominal Transplantation and, since 2016, has served as the executive medical director of the UNC Healthcare Center for Transplant Care and Jason Ray Transplant Clinics. A retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve Medical Corps, Gerber is an adjunct professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

“As I reflect on this incredible opportunity to join the UC family, numerous thoughts run through my mind on why this community is a great place to call home. From the collegiality and relationships amongst everyone I met on campus to the century-long history of accomplishments in the Department of Surgery, incredible things are being done every day and throughout the history of the institution. Having the unique chance to join the Department of Surgery, College of Medicine and UC is a chance of a lifetime as we forge a path for the years to come,” Gerber says.

portrait of Dr. David Gerber

David A. Gerber, MD, will become chair of the UC College of Medicine Department of Surgery this fall.

A surgeon-scientist, Gerber specializes in solid organ transplantation and liver cancer, and his research focuses on cell biology and tissue engineering in the field of regenerative medicine and on the relationship of the matrix/environment that supports the growth and differentiation of select stem cell populations into functional tissues. He currently serves on the board of the United Network for Organ Sharing as Region 11 councilor and as the chief medical officer of Biomed Organ Bank, LLC, a company focused on developing ex vivo organ preservation technologies. Gerber has received two patents and, in 2008, designed and implemented a course in the UNC School of Medicine on “Entrepreneurship in Life Sciences” as a way of introducing the concepts surrounding biotechnology commercialization. He is a founding member of the UNC Healthcare Innovation Council and since 2012 he has been the chair of UNC’s Institutional Conflicts of Interest Committee.

The recipient of more than 25 basic science grants, Gerber has been principal investigator or co-investigator of over 40 industry-sponsored clinical trials focusing on advancing patient outcomes in transplantation and hepatocellular carcinoma. He has published more than 200 publications, abstracts and book chapters in the areas of transplantation, stem cell biology, regenerative medicine and liver cancer. Additionally, he has given more than 100 national and international presentations on health care and biotechnology.

Gerber is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and diplomate in the American Board of Surgery. He has been elected for membership in the American Surgical Association, the Southern Surgical Association and the Halsted Society and is an active member in the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, The Transplantation Society, Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association and International Hepato-Pancreato Biliary Association. In 2010, he was appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Advisory Committee on Transplantation. In 2019 he was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina to serve as a member of the License to Give Trust Fund Commission. He also serves on the Board of Directors for HonorBridge, the organ procurement organization in central and eastern North Carolina.

In 2013, Gerber received the Clinical and Academic Grand Master Special Experience Identifier Award from the Office of the Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force. In 2020, the Secretary of Defense authorized the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the military’s highest joint service decoration and the highest non-combat award, be awarded to Gerber.

Gerber received his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1989 and then completed general surgery training and a postdoctoral fellowship in transplantation immunology at Emory University. He was a clinical transplant fellow at the Starzl Transplantation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine before joining the UNC faculty in 1998.

Gerber replaces Jeffrey Sussman, MD, who has served as interim chair of the Department of Surgery since January 2019. Under his leadership, the department increased research funding and clinical trial participation, increased the number of women in surgical training programs to nearly 50 percent, and extended its outreach during recruitment processes to identify outstanding underrepresented potential residents and faculty. The department also advanced disparate care research to better understand how to improve care for the community and established a diversity and inclusion taskforce.

Sussman will return to the faculty as professor while continuing his responsibilities as director of the General Surgery Residency Program and director of the department’s Division of Education.


Featured image at top: David A. Gerber, MD. Photos/University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

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