I believe that healthcare, alone, does not guarantee the best outcome. What’s needed for healing is as much in the patient’s mind, spirit and body as it is in my skill as a surgeon. As a pediatric surgeon and clinician, I bring the latest knowledge (or evidence-base care) and the highest level of compassion to my patients. As an innovator and academic surgeon, I’m obsessed with leveraging what we learn about team science and cross-disciplinary care to disrupt — for the better — the art and science of surgery.
Some call this caring philosophy a holistic approach. I see it as leveraging the best science has to offer with the hidden powers of each patient's willpower and mindfulness. By combining humor with mindfulness, I can share worlds hidden in plain sight with my patients and their parents.
At Cincinnati Children’s, we see the child’s ability to recover from surgery, illness or injury as a hero's or heroine's journey. My team serves as mentors, helpers and healers for these heroes.
In my practice, I specialize in caring for children with congenital and acquired chest wall anomalies. At the Cincinnati Children’s Chest Wall Center, we evaluate, manage and repair structural chest wall conditions with some of the most extensive experience in the nation.
We also pursue ways to exceed patient and parent expectations through our partnership with the “Live Well Collaborative” formed by the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) and Proctor and Gamble. We created a patient/parent empowerment tool that lets patients take charge of their clinical journey. The result? The broadest holistic approach to care available. We provide services — from age-appropriate meditation and mindfulness techniques to better prepare for surgery, to online pre-op and post-op coaching programs — to guide at-home recovery.
This patient/parent roadmap clearly outlines the process flow and expectations for families. We believe it helps our patients and families develop and maintain confidence in our work.
We believe parents want better health and well-being for their child’s entire life. An operation (if necessary) is a means to this end. At Cincinnati Children’s Chest Wall Center, we believe that hospital care is only a small part of what determines health. Our expanded offerings (meditation, lessons about the hero's and heroine's journey) help us deliver health, well-being and self-agency for patients and their caregivers.
A clinical rotation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, with Dr. C. Everette Koop, inspired to become a pediatric surgeon. After that experience, I knew pediatric surgery would be my labor of love. Dr. Koop was world-renowned and masterful in his surgical technical skills, his acute intellect and his extraordinary bedside manner. He characterized what I wanted to be and what I should be. I cannot think of a more gratifying and ennobling lifelong pursuit than to cure children when you can, relieve childhood suffering, and comfort children and their parents.
My research tries to determine if severe indentation of the chest wall (pectus excavatum) harms heart and/or lung function. We also study how well surgery fixes the condition. We are studying pectus excavatum and its treatment in collaboration with pediatric cardiologists and pulmonologists at Cincinnati Children’s. We’re also working on creating a less painful and safer way to repair pectus excavatum in conjunction with the Compliant Mechanisms Research Group at Brigham Young University. Finally, we work with Cincinnati Children’s Acute Pain Service to study the role of epigenetics in determining different responses to pain, as well as how meditation can help reduce the pain response to surgery.
I’m honored to be the recipient of several awards, including:
- 2019 Distinguished Graduate Award from the United States Military Academy (West Point)
- 2019 Founder's Award from the Cincinnati Pediatric Society
- 2018 Honorary PhD from Xavier University
- 2017 Great Living Cincinnatian Award from the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce
- 2009 National Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service
When I’m not at work, I spend time on my decade-long obsession — to address the worsening inequalities in our urban core. I strive to apply the best available evidence to confront what causes children in our community to die prematurely, underachieve in school and fail to meet their full potential because of their zip code. I believe it is far better — less expensive and more humane — to prevent illness, injury and disease than it is to treat or repair these conditions.
In my free time, I enjoy time spent with family, reading, rowing and playing Scattergories with my grandchildren.
Professor, UC Department of Surgery
Colorectal Disorders, Surgery - General and Thoracic, Neuromuscular Disorders, Surgical Weight Loss, Chest Wall, General and Thoracic Surgery