What are your current research interests and/or what is a project you are currently working on?
My research interests are based upon my clinical work in kidney and prostate cancer. An area of active research in urology is imaging of renal tumors to help differentiate those that are benign versus malignant. Utilizing CT and optical imaging technologies, such as confocal laser endomicroscopy, I have been able to improve the characterization of renal tumor subtypes in efforts to better select those patients who need surgery versus those that can be observed or treated more conservatively. With regards to prostate cancer, I am currently involved in a U54 multi-institutional project involving the investigation of mitochondrial DNA derived proteins as a marker for high risk prostate cancer in different race groups.
Why did you decide to focus on cancer?
Having started my career at Johns Hopkins Brady Urological Institute in Baltimore, I was exposed to a high volume practice in oncology, specifically prostate and kidney cancer. At that same time, I was developing and applying laparoscopic and robotic surgeries to treat both conditions. Through my mentors at Hopkins, I developed one of the largest clinical outcomes databases in robotic prostatectomy and partial nephrectomy leading to publications on the comparative outcomes, safety, techniques and cost effectiveness as compared to conventional open surgery. After moving to UF in 2008, I continued my work in prostate and kidney cancer as the division lead in robotic and minimally invasive urologic surgery and I now serve as the chair of the department.
What excites you about your work?
The field of urology is incredibly dynamic as it has a long history of embracing new technologies and minimally invasive techniques. The treatment of prostate and kidney cancer has evolved very rapidly over the past decade. As such this field has continued to challenge me in always seeking to find better ways to improve patient care and reduce morbidity through laparoscopic and robotic surgery. It is very exciting to know that the next decade will likely usher novel therapies that will positively affect patient care and change the landscape of urologic care.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I am an avid saltwater angler. Growing up in Gainesville, I spent many vacations and weekends fishing at Cedar Key. When I returned to Gainesville to begin working at UF Health, I bought my first boat and now am on my second. I love saltwater fishing as you never know what you are going to pull up!