Monday, October 3, 2011

Meet the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Fellows in Pediatric Surgical Innovation

There are some new faces in the Sheikh Zayed Institute: the first class of the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Fellows in Pediatric Surgical Innovation. They are all innovation-minded early career bioengineers and healthcare professionals, looking to learn the principles of innovation and apply their expertise to impact pediatric surgical care. They include:
  • Mahdi Azizian, PhD, bioengineer
  • Alana Beres, MD, a general surgeon
  • Amy Burns, MD, a urologist
  • Katherine Davenport, MD, a general surgeon
Every fellow becomes an active part of the primary activities of the institute as soon as they come on board. Dr. Azizian, whose expertise is in surgical robotics, offered this observation: “From the moment you walk through the doors, you join a dynamic team developing, implementing and testing novel ideas together.”

(Photo, right: Principal Investigator Craig Peters and two Robert Fellows, Katherine Davenport (left) and Amy Burns (right) brainstorming at an Institute Innovation Wall.)

Each fellow creates several project plans for research that will advance pediatric surgical innovation based on his or her own interests and backgrounds, and works collaboratively with the faculty and staff of the institute to implement these programs. Some of the fellows have a specific project goal in mind, like Dr. Beres, who wants to investigate whether non-invasive high-intensity focused ultrasound can work for pediatric surgery. “The Sheikh Zayed Institute presented the chance for me to join the team that will really advance this promising technique to help children with cancer, and I had to take that opportunity.”

Others have a more general approach, like Dr. Davenport, who sees the fellowship as a “unique opportunity to apply surgical problem-solving toward pediatric surgical care.”

Day to day, the fellows participate in faculty meetings and a full set of courses in healthcare innovation and its implementation in pediatrics, to equip them with the tools they will need to sustain interest in innovation even after their time at the institute has ended. Dr. Burns believes the Robert Fellow experience will help her “translate research into actual pediatric urologic care throughout my career. This knowledge will hopefully provide a strong foundation for me to impact positively health care for children.”

The Robert Fellowship is designed to harness the various strengths of its applicants, and maximize their talents toward the shared goal of making pediatric surgery more precise, less invasive and pain free. From a variety of specialty areas, even in their first few weeks at the Sheikh Zayed Institute, it’s clear that the four fellows share a common interest in truly impacting how children are cared for.

The Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Fellowships, are named for philanthropist Joseph E. Robert, Jr., a longtime supporter and parent of a child treated at Children’s National. Mr. Robert helped fund the existing surgical center at Children’s National, the Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Center for Surgical Care.

Learn more about our current class of Robert Fellows at:

Read the press release welcoming our new fellows.

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