The concept of the State of Florida having a medical school was first seriously considered in the early 1940’s. In 1943 the legislature proposed the medical school. This was followed by ten years of political negotiations as to whether the school would be located in Tampa, Gainesville or Jacksonville. Senator William A. Shands, from Gainesville, was the senate leader who convinced the legislature that the medical school, and its associated hospital, should be part of the University of Florida. The medical school was housed in the Medical Sciences Building, which was opened to the first class in 1956. The new university hospital honored the senator by naming it Shands Teaching Hospital. Ground was broken for the hospital in 1956. Initially the hospital was owned by the State of Florida but in the early 1970’s it became a private not for profit facility known as Shands Health Care.
1958 marked the year when the Department of Urology’s tradition of excellence in patient care, research and education began. It was then Shands Teaching Hospital admitted its first patient, just two years after the state’s first medical school broke ground on the University of Florida (UF) campus. Urologic care at UF has been thriving ever since. Dr. George H. Miller, Jr., was recruited as chief of the division of urology. Dr. Miller had been a resident at Chicago under Dr. Charles Huggins and Dr. Cornelius Vermeulen and had remained on the faculty after his residency. Dr. Huggins would later win the Nobel Prize for his research on estrogens and prostate cancer. Most of the research at Chicago was in the area of urolithiasis and the principle area of research for Dr. Vermeulen and his protégés. Dr. Miller brought that interest with him to UF where he set up a research lab in the area of our current offices. The classic model used was to implant a small weighed piece of metal in the rat bladder and then try to either enhance or inhibit stone formation. The implants were removed after 6-8 weeks and the weighed amount of stone formation was compared to untreated controls. During his 22 year tenure in the division of urology, Dr. Miller recruited a young and enthusiastic faculty, developed the division’s clinical and academic aspects, and helped establish the first urology research lab that would be the foundation of so many future successes for this pioneering group.
In 1962, urology chief Dr. George Miller, recruited Dr. David Drylie to be the second faculty member in the division of urology. Dr. Drylie was the second urology resident following Dr. Elliot Klorfien. He began his residency in 1960 and completed it in 1963 when he assumed a faculty position. Dr. Drylie was an excellent surgeon, but early in his career also had an interest in research. He was awarded an NIH fellowship in immunology and worked closely with the pediatric department on this project. He was also a pioneer in the use of cryosurgery for benign prostatic disease and did research on the immunology of cryosurgery on the prostate. From 1972 to 1994, Dr. Drylie would serve as division chief integrating private urologists into the teaching program, as well as developing academic and medical affiliations with the Veteran’s Administration (VA) Hospital.
He was active politically at both the state and national level serving in many positions. These included being president of both the Florida Urological Society and secretary and president of the Southeastern Section of the American Urological Association (AUA). In 1996, Dr. Drylie orchestrated and organized one of the best, if not the best, AUA meetings ever in Orlando, Florida. He served for many years on the executive committee of the AUA. One of his major contributions to this division was to bring former residents into the mainstream of politics for both the state and section organizations and that legacy continues to this day.
Another major accomplishment of Dr. Drylie was to integrate private urologists into our teaching program. This initially began with the inclusion of Dr. Don Jablonski and Dr. Ed Ackerman from the Winter Park Urology Group. Soon Dr. Bob Webster and Dr. Al McCulley from Tallahassee Urology also participated. This program was very successful and eventually other members of those groups as well as many former residents participated in this program. The format was to have the private urologist come to journal club on Thursday evening and then operate with the resident at the VAMC Hospital on Friday.
Dr. Drylie’s untimely death, at the annual AUA meeting in 1997, cut short a career that would have led to more contributions to the division and to urology nationally. He was remembered with an annual resident’s award given at the following resident graduation, by his wife Sarah Drylie, to the resident(s) with the highest score on the annual In-Service Examination. In addition, the David M. Drylie Visiting Professorship was named in his honor.
The division of urology’s future as a major research center took a giant step forward in 1967, when urology chief Dr. George Miller recruited Dr. Birdwell Finlayson as the division’s third faculty member. A world-renowned scientist, Dr. Finlayson was one of the original investigators for Electric Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) in the United States. Through his remarkable work, doctors were able to break up kidney stones from outside the body and reduce patient pain and avoid a hospital stay. A biophysicist in training, his fixed particle hypothesis became the foundation of urolithiasis research, and his computer model EQUIL is still the gold standard for calculating urinary supersaturation with respect to kidney stone formation. Dr. Finlayson was instrumental in forming the R.O.C.K. Society (Research on Calculus Kinetics).
He died suddenly in 1988 when returning from Cedar Key where he and his wife Carol had dined with their neighbors. After his passing, the Birdwell Finlayson Visiting Professorship was named in his honor.
Key to the division’s development was its early association with the Lake City VA Medical Center (VAMC). It gave the division’s residents access to multiple urology cases and office practices. In 1970, the successful program gained an additional partnership with the new Malcom Randall VAMC located in Gainesville. Urology was particularly fortunate because the urologist at the Lake City VAMC welcomed the association. Dr. Pope Jordan, a gentleman of the south, had been self-trained by his father first, but then went to New Orleans and did a formal residency with Dr. Edgar Burns, a pioneer in urology. The VAMC Hospital in Lake City gave the residents what was lacking in Gainesville, a large number of cases of benign prostatic hypertrophy as well as garden-variety urology and office practice. Urology residents rotated through the Lake City VAMC Hospital during their years in general surgery and for one year during their urology residency. The atmosphere was academic and an excellent place for the resident to write case reports and clinical papers. Dr. Jordan left the VAMC in Lake City in 1968 to go to the VA in Memphis and was succeeded by Dr. Fred Ferguson. Fred was another southerner, an excellent surgeon and teacher and very committed to our program. Although the program moved to the new VAMC Hospital in Gainesville in 1970, Dr. Ferguson continued to participate in all conferences.
Dr. Miller covered the VAMC in Gainesville part time initially but in 1972 moved to the VAMC as chief of staff and chief of urology. Dr. Miller stayed in that position until 1976 when he became chief of staff at the VAMC in Togas, Maine. Dr. Howard Epstein was the chief of urology at the VAMC Hospital for two years prior to leaving for the same position at Shands Jacksonville. The chief of urology at the VAMC with the longest tenure was Dr. Carl Cascione. He joined in 1989 and left to go to the VAMC in Fort Myers in 2003. Dr. Cascione was a superb teacher and surgeon and well-liked by all the residents.
One of the early needs of the division was to increase the number of pediatric urology cases. In private practice the simpler cases in pediatric urology were handled by the general urologist, whereas more complex cases were referred to children’s hospitals. In 1967 the medical school and the department of surgery made a commitment to children’s surgery by hiring its first pediatric surgeon, Dr. James Talbert, from Johns Hopkins. At this same time Dr. Dixon Walker, chief resident in urology, and Dr. George Richard, a fellow in pediatric nephrology, were developing a relationship and a plan for the future.
Dr. Miller and Dr. William Weil, professor of pediatrics, agreed to allow Drs. Richard and Walker to form a joint clinic once Dr. Walker finished his two year navy commitment. This service was started July 1, 1970. Initially it was quite small and in 1970-71, 55 operative cases were done. This was, however, a large increase over the number of cases the year before. Within one year Dr. Walker was fulltime as a pediatric urologist. He developed a close relationship with Dr. Talbert and in 1972 was given a joint appointment in the pediatric department. He was the first pediatric urologist in the State of Florida and the second in the south.
Dr. Richard and Dr. Walker collaborated for 35 years on both research and clinical practice. The clinical practice grew steadily and for most of his career Dr. Walker did a large number of complex operative cases. Significant contributions were made in the understanding of the physiological effect of vesicoureteral reflux on the kidney.
Eventually the clinical practice was expanded so that outreach clinics were held in Ocala and Rockledge. Both Drs. Richard and Walker trained fellows in pediatric nephrology and urology. When Dr. Walker retired in 2001 it was decided to send the urology residents for their training to Dr. Michael Erhard in Jacksonville. Dr. Erhard was the last fellow trained by Dr. Walker.
Urologic oncology was the second section developed within the division with the hiring of Dr. Harry Grabstald from Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City in 1979. Dr. Grabstaldt was an internationally known oncologist with special interest in urethral carcinoma. He greatly increased the oncology patient load bringing in many patients from outside the state. In 1983, Dr. Grabstaldt left to become chief of urology at the University of South Florida. The search was on for a world-class oncologist and after a few months Dr. Zev Wajsman was hired as the new head of urologic oncology. Dr. Wajsman was educated in Israel and the United States, completed his fellowship and was on the faculty at Roswell Park in Buffalo, NY. It was the start of a long and highly successful section.
Dr. Zev Wajsman developed a program that made major inroads to the management of bladder cancer. He had an active fellowship program and his service was the most sought after by residents for the quality of cases. Like Dr. Grabstaldt he attracted an international clientele. During his tenure, a weekly Tumor Board was begun. This multi-disciplinary conference included faculty from radiology, radiation oncology, pathology, and medical oncology. Dr. Wajsman also facilitated the start of a regular pathology conference. Urology was fortunate to have a close affiliation with Dr. Ray Hackett who had a major interest in genitourinary (GU) pathology. Dr. Hackett collaborated with Dr. Finlayson on numerous NIH grants and ran the pathology conference. Dr. Wajsman held an endowed chair and was named the Cofrin Professor of Surgery/Urology in 1992. He built an excellent section. In 2000, He was recognized by his peers by being elected President of the Florida Urological Society.
In 1984 ESWL was introduced in the United States. The advent of minimally invasive stone removal techniques and ESWL brought about a paradigm shift in the management of stones worldwide. Dr. Finlayson was tapped to be one of the original six clinical investigators for ESWL. A Dornier HM-3 unit was installed in the basement of Shands Hospital and treatments were begun. The closest similar units were in Houston and Charlottesville. Patients were hospitalized for 4-5 days and underwent pre and post ESWL intravenous pyelogram as a part of a highly monitored protocol. Patients came from throughout the southeastern United States for treatment at UF. In addition, urologists from across the country and abroad came here for training.
This was a fertile time for clinical investigation. The stone group worked closely with Dr. J.S. Gravenstein in anesthesiology and Dr. Juri Kaude in radiology to develop reliable techniques of treatment and methods for follow-up in determining the efficacy of shock wave treatment. Dr. Finlayson was often ahead of his time in thinking about basic science techniques and the clinical treatment of patients. In addition, he was quite outspoken. At one national urology gathering, he advocated the use of ESWL on an outpatient basis. While that approach is the standard at the time of this writing, it was thought to be a radical and perhaps dangerous approach by some when Dr. Finlayson made the comment. In fact, not long after returning from the meeting, he received a “letter of censure” from the AUA. He was not afraid to say what he thought and, more often than not, his ideas about the future treatment of stone patients proved to be correct.
In 1993, the division of urology welcomed its first female resident, Dr. Dana Brand Moody. Dr. Moody was a pioneer in the division of urology. In 1994, Dr. Perinchery Narayan was recruited from the University of San Francisco as the new chief of urology. Dr. Narayan, a renowned expert in the field of prostate cancer, continued to provide momentum to the division’s emphasis on urologic oncology.
In the mid 1990’s, Shands Hospital System acquired Alachua General Hospital (AGH) and Ayers Surgical Center (an outpatient surgical facility) along with a number of other facilities in the area. Urology was encouraged to admit and cover patients at AGH and Ayers. Generally, our division used these facilities for less complicated cases and to see those referred while in the hospital for other reasons.
In 1997 Dr. Inoel Rivera, urologic oncology fellow, joined the oncology group following his fellowship. Dr. Rivera left for private practice in 1999.
In 1998 Dr. Dixon Walker was chosen as interim chief. Though he had not served as chief, Dr. Walker held a number of leadership positions on the local, state and national level. He was associate editor for the Journal of Urology in Pediatrics and was elected as president of the Florida Urological Society. His roles at Shands and the College of Medicine included being president of the Faculty Council, chief of staff, and medical director of the operating room. Though he was reluctant to take on the job, Dr. Walker proved to be a major stabilizing force for the division. As time progressed, he slowed down his practice and worked on a part time basis. He held the position of interim chief until retirement. He served as mentor for many medical students, residents, fellows, and other faculty members. Near the end of his career he was awarded the Pediatric Medal by The Societies for Pediatric Urology and given the Golden Cane Award by the AUA.
In 1998, endourology evolved into a specialty, thanks to leaders like Dr. Birdwell Finlayson. Along with radiologist Dr. Irwin “Dick” Hawkins, and his fellows, Dr. Finlayson developed tools to diagnose and treat kidney stones more effectively. As an example, UF was the first institution in the southeastern United States to perform percutaneous nephrolithotomy. As with many new techniques, there was a significant learning curve. Due to initial difficulties encountered in accessing the pelvocalyceal system, the Hawkins-Hunter retrograde nephrostomy system was developed. The first procedures using this technique were done in the interventional radiology suite, often late at night with a resident or fellow running back and forth to the OR retrieving needed instruments.
Dr. Finlayson trained and was succeeded by Dr. Robert Newman. Dr. Newman was soon joined by Dr. Marc Cohen. Together, they expanded the endourology section to include diagnoses beyond stone disease, as well as bringing in the latest laparoscopy technology. In partnership with the radiology department, the division performed the first laparoscopic donor nephrectomy in Florida.
As endourology grew as a specialty so did this service, eventually adding laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic nephrectomy was first done in the early 1990’s, after it was first described by Ralph Clayman. There was a steep learning curve, but the procedure “caught on”. In 1998, Dr. Newman performed the first laparoscopic donor nephrectomy in the southeast and thereafter developed the largest such service in the southeastern United States.
When Dr. Dixon Walker retired in 2001, Dr. Newman, who held the Rudolf Acosta Professorship in Urology, took over as interim chief of the division and subsequently was named chief. While serving in this capacity, Dr. Newman held a number of other administrative positions in the College of Medicine, including medical director for the Surgical Subspecialties Clinics, director of billing compliance for the College of Medicine and was a member of the Executive Fiscal Affairs Committee (EFAC). He also served as president of the Faculty Council, a member of the Board of Directors of the Southeastern Section of the AUA, and was active in the Florida Urological Society, ultimately being elected to serve as president of this group. During this time period, three new faculty members were added. First, the division was successful in enticing Dr. Marc Cohen to return to UF. When he returned, Dr. Cohen became the residency program director. In addition to his enthusiastic efforts in education, he led our program’s efforts in male infertility, erectile dysfunction, and played a major role in endourology. He successfully completed a Master’s in Education program and was named president of the Society for University Chairs and Program Directors (SUCPD).
Not long afterwards, Dr. Chester Algood was recruited from a private practice in South Florida. Dr. Algood had an oncology fellowship at MD Anderson in Houston under his belt. An accomplished surgeon, he was committed to the best in patient care. To the division’s good fortune, he also had significant experience in female urology and urodynamics. Colleagues both inside and outside the institution consistently sought his advice. As of 2008, he was the only faculty member in urology to have been honored with the Resident’s Teaching Award on multiple occasions.
At this point, the division had three full time faculty members: Drs. Algood, Cohen, and Newman. These three individuals shared coverage at the VAMC Hospital. Fortunately for the division, some of our former residents (now in private practice) pitched in to help. Most notably was Dr. Jorge Leal from Merritt Island, Dr. Thomas Stringer from Inverness, and several partners from the Winter Park Urology group. In addition, Dr. Marc Blasser from Orange Park began to rotate at the VAMC Hospital on a regular basis. Dr. Blasser’s interest and expertise in erectile dysfunction and prosthetic surgery proved to be particularly helpful. The residents viewed the opportunity to work with urologists “in the trenches” as a very positive addition to the training program. Conversations about the practical day-to-day aspects of practicing urology were common place and looked forward to by the residents.
In 2004, two new faculty members were recruited to work at the Gainesville VAMC Hospital. Dr. Unyime Nseyo came from Richmond, Virginia. Dr. Nseyo’s research interests focus on photodynamic therapy for bladder tumors and greenlight laser prostatectomy. He was appointed chief of the VA Hospital urology service. About 2-3 months after his arrival, Dr. Ahmad Vafa joined the staff. Dr. Vafa trained with Dr. Marty Resnick in Cleveland and then joined a large group of urologists in Akron. His strengths in general urology were a welcome addition in the care of our growing population of VAMC patients. As time passed, his skills in teaching became evident. The resident’s honored him with the Resident’s Teaching Award on multiple occasions.
Faculty efforts during these years focused primarily on resident education and patient care. In addition to those in urology, faculty in other specialties played a significant role. Dr. Pat Abbitt, initiated a monthly GU radiology conference attended by urology faculty and residents. She is widely recognized for her clinical acumen and her innovative teaching style.
Due to limited resources, our numbers were small. As of early 2006, we were fewer than 20 in number, including fulltime UF and VA faculty, and residents. Fortunately for urology, that began to change in the early years of the 21st century. The saga of moving from division to departmental status is painted in the paragraphs that follow.
Although urology had been a division from its inception, we had always aspired to become a department. In 1999 this quest took a more aggressive approach. Dr. Zev Wajsman contacted the Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, Dr. Nicholas Cassisi, and in a letter, outlined the reasons we should become a department. Dr. Dixon Walker, as interim chief, approached Vice President and Dean Ken Berns, listing all of the medical schools that had departments of urology and all that had divisions. It was clear that almost all of the best schools had departments.
Dr. Craig Tisher, the Senior Associate Dean for Research, selected Dr. John McConnell, Chair of Urology at University of Texas, Southwestern as an outside consultant. Dr. McConnell came in late 2000 and for three days met with a number of individuals. He then wrote an extensive and incisive report outlining our strengths and weaknesses and all the reasons we should become a department.
Shortly after receiving that report and with the announcement of Dr. Ted Copeland stepping down as surgery chair, the dean appointed two outside individuals to assess the department of surgery. Dr. Lazer Greenfield, chair at the University of Michigan and Dr. Scott Jones, chair at the University of Virginia, recommended to the dean, to break urology out as a department. In 2003 Dr. Tisher, who had been in favor of urology becoming a department, began the process to bring this dream to fruition. This process was sheparded by Dr. Bob Newman, now the division chief. Approval was obtained at all levels and on July 1, 2005 urology became a department within the College of Medicine. After an extensive search, lasting over a year, Dr. Tisher selected Dr. Johannes Vieweg from Duke University to be the inaugural department chair. Dr. Vieweg began July 1, 2006.
In 2006, the department vision demanded a foundation of incredible and dedicated talent. Upon Dr. Vieweg’s arrival, he was already joined by many accomplished physicians who had been serving the patient and academic community in their subspecialties of oncology, endourology, and general urology, including Drs. Marc Cohen, Chester Algood, Robert Newman, Ahmed Vafa, Zev Wajsman and Uniyme Nseyo.
The Department of Urology continued to build on the solid foundation of world-class experts that would provide a full-service offering, including robotics, minimally invasive surgery, GU oncology, male infertility, a urology quality and outcomes program, endourology, general urology and translational research. Renowned urology clinicians, researchers, and educators were immediately attracted to the new department.
New research faculty members, including Drs. Sergei Kusmartsev, Zhen Su and Brian Cleaver immediately began to make headway, in terms of collaboration with international institutions and state-awarded funding, for their outstanding work in prostate cancer gene therapy research. Their research and innovations translate next generation therapies to improved care for patients.
Dr. Philipp Dahm, a pioneer in the field of evidence-based medicine in urology and education, and Dr. Benjamin Canales, a leading scholar in kidney stone disease, soon joined UF urology to further boost our oncology, and endourology sub-specialty offerings. In 2007, Dr. Charles Rosser, was added to our expanding staff, bringing to the department his knowledge and expertise in urologic oncology. This was followed by Dr. Sijo Parekattil, an expert in robotic surgery who performed the first robotic procedure at the newly established robotics division in 2007. Dr. Parekattil’s efforts were later augmented by the recruitment of Dr. Li-Ming Su from Johns Hopkins Brady Urological Institute, a nationally renowned robotics expert to serve as chief of the robotics and minimally invasive surgery division. Dr. Scott Gilbert, a pioneer in urological cancer survivorship, as well as a fellowship-trained urologic oncologist from the University of Michigan, joined the now growing and thriving department. The department had grown from six faculty members in 2006 to thirteen in 2008.
In 2008, the Department of Urology celebrated 50 years of urology at UF. Several events were held in Gainesville, including golf, tennis, tours of our facilities, a continuing medical education event and a welcome reception. To cap off the weekend, a black tie gala was held to honor our past and look toward our future.
The UroGators Alumni Society was established in 2008. UroGators foster mutual communication and collaboration, providing a way for urologists in the community to stay in touch with the department. The group hosts regular social events and fundraisers for fellows, students and advocates of the department. UroGators is currently led by Dr. Thomas Stringer.
The Department of Urology continued its growth by adding to our faculty, Dr. Lou Moy, a fellowship trained female urologist. We were excited to bring this subspecialty to our department. Dr. Michael Binder, a community physician joined our faculty. Our growth continued in research by adding Dr. Yehia Daaka, Vice Chair of Research for UF Urology. Joining Dr. Daaka was Dr. Zhongzhen Nie, a well-known urologic researcher.
The Department of Urology in 2009 was notified by the Urology Residency Review Committee (RRC) on behalf of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) that its residency program had been given full accreditation for a total of 5 years, through 2014. In addition, the RRC approved the department’s proposal to expand the residency program from 2 to 3 residents per academic year. This favorable outcome of the RRC’s review of UF’s Urology Residency Program represented a significant achievement that builds on a 50 year history of excellence in residency.
On November 24, 2009 Dr. Li-Ming Su and his team performed the first single port laparoscopic surgery within the Department of Urology, for a symptomatic 20 centimeter kidney cyst. Instead of using conventional laparoscopy, which requires 3-4 skin incisions, Dr. Su performed the surgery through a single 2.5 centimeter incision at the navel, in order to minimize the number of skin incisions, pain and scarring. The patient experienced minimal pain and was discharged the next day following surgery. Single port surgery has grown in popularity worldwide due to its minimally invasive nature and promise for “scarless” surgery. The technique of single port surgery and its efficacy were investigated by Drs. Su and Parekattil in their research lab along with partnerships with instrumentation and device companies; and is being offered to patients for select urologic conditions.
Dr. Vincent Bird joined our faculty in 2010, bringing his expertise and knowledge in the areas of urinary stone disease, renal obstruction and renal cancer to our faculty.
In the spring of 2011 the University of Florida Prostate Disease Center (UFPDC) proposed state legislation that resulted in unanimous passage, by the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate. Signed by Governor Scott, this new Florida Statute mandates creation of a UFPDC Prostate Cancer Advisory Council to develop and implement an action plan to improve prostate cancer awareness, outreach, education and care. This plan and subsequent progress towards accomplishing its objectives, is reported annually to the Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House.
In 2011, the Department of Urology was excited to welcome back as a faculty member, fellowship trained, reconstructive urologist, Dr. Larry Yeung. Dr. Yeung completed his residency with the UF Department of Urology. Dr. Thomas Stringer joined the faculty in 2011, as the medical director of the urology clinic. The department was grateful to have his knowledge and influence added to our faculty.
Dr. Benjamin Canales, Assistant Professor of Urology at UF, was one of two recipients of the 2011 “Rising Star in Urology Award” through the AUA Foundation and Astellas Pharma Global Development, Inc. This program, designed for young urology faculty with externally-funded career development awards, provided $150,000 of funding over the next four years to Dr. Canales and his research efforts. Over the last 6 years, ten surgeon-scientists have been selected to participate in the AUA Foundation Rising Star program and each of them are recognized as “up and coming” leaders in the field of urology.
The year 2012 saw the addition of the second pediatric urologist to the Department of Urology. Dr. Kirstan Meldrum joined our faculty as our pediatric urologist. Dr. Meldrum was instrumental in building the program we have today.
In 2013, Dr. Vincent Bird accepted the position as Associate Program Director of the UF Urology Residency Program. In this role, he assisted the Residency Program Director, Dr. Philipp Dahm.
The year of 2013 saw the addition of more faculty members to our department.Dr. Romano DeMarco joined our faculty as our pediatric urologist. Prior to joining the faculty at UF, Dr. DeMarco was the first chief of pediatric urology at Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Welcomed to UF Urology as well was Dr. Paul Crispen and his specialties of urologic oncology, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, penile cancer, adrenalectomy, renal cell carcinoma, testicular cancer and robotic surgery.
The establishment of the David M. Drylie Visiting Professor Lecture became a reality for the department in 2013. The department welcomed, as our first Visiting Professor, Dr. Peter T. Scardino, Chairman of the Departments of Urology and Surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The Visiting Professor Lecture was part of a series of department events, including the UF Urology Visiting Professor/UroGators Alumni Society Welcome Reception and the UF Urology/UroGators Alumni Society Tailgate. During the UF Urology Visiting Professor/UroGators Alumni Society Welcome Reception, the department honored Dr. Zev Wajsman as our first Golden Gator Lifetime Achievement Award honoree. Dr. Wajsman’s portrait is housed in the Department of Urology conference room as a constant reminder of his legacy and devotion to our department.
Dr. Victoria Bird was added to our faculty in 2014. Dr. Lou Moy joined Dr. Vincent Bird as the Associate Program Director of the UF Urology Residency Program, as Dr. Vincent Bird assumed the role of Residency Program Director.
The 2014 David M. Drylie Visiting Professor Lecture, featured Dr. David A. Diamond, Urologist-In-Chief of Boston’s Children’s Hospital. Dr. R. Dixon Walker, III, contributions to the department were honored as he received the Golden Gator Lifetime Achievement Award. His portrait is housed in the Department of Urology conference room along with others who have contributed much to the legacy and growth of the department.
As we entered 2015, many changes took place in the Department of Urology. Dr. Thomas Stringer was named interim department chairman and a nationwide search for a new department chairman began. With Dr. Stringer’s leadership, along with the faculty, UF Urology continued to honor its past and the legacy of those who served while continuing to move forward with vision and growth, and excitement about the future.
In adding to the department and its growth, UF Urology Endo/MIS Fellowship Program welcomed Dr. Brandon Otto.
Dr. Michael Dennis joined the faculty as co-medical director of the UF Health Urology Clinic. Dr. Dennis, who came from private practice, brought a wealth of knowledge to not only our patients, but to the faculty and residents as well.
The 2015 David M. Drylie, MD Visiting Professor/UroGators Alumni Society Weekend welcomed Dr. Shlomo Raz, from UCLA. As in previous years, the Visiting Professor Lecture was a part of a series of departmental events. At the November 6th evening reception, held at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, about 120 former and current faculty, former and current residents and fellows, family and friends gathered as we honored the memory of Dr. Dana Moody. Dr. Moody, who passed away on Sept. 2, 2015, was the first female resident of the UF urology program. Her husband, Dr. Rodney Moody and their daughter Emily were on hand as UF urology interim chair Dr. Thomas Stringer, along with the four current female urology residents, presented a gift and flowers to her family. Former faculty member, Dr. Chester Algood was on hand to honor Dr. Moody and was recognized by all who attended.
On January 11, 2016, UF College of Medicine Dean, Dr. Michael Good, announced to the UF Department of Urology faculty that interim chairman, Dr. Thomas Stringer, and his wife Leah Stringer had made a $350,000 gift to the department. The gift was a culmination of deep loyalty and commitment for a department Dr. Stringer guided as interim chairman. The endowed gift provided funds in perpetuity for all UroGators Alumni activities such as the annual David M. Drylie, MD Visiting Professorship Lecture each fall and the UroGator gatherings that take place at national and regional urology events.
On February 2, 2016, the UF College of Medicine and UF Health leaders announced the appointment of Dr. Li-Ming Su, as chair of the UF Department of Urology. Dr. Su, recruited to UF in 2008, is an internationally recognized leader in the area of minimally invasive urologic surgery. He currently serves as the David A. Cofrin Professor of Urologic Oncology. He began his appointment as chair of the department of urology on March 1. Dr. Su’s appointment came after a national search that included 22 applicants.
In April 2016, Dr. Saeed Khan received the University of Florida, College of Medicine, Lifetime Achievement Award, “In Recognition of An Extraordinary Academic Career of Leadership, Teaching, Research and Discovery. Your dedication and success has brought great honor and recognition to The College of Medicine and the University of Florida“. Dr. Khan, co-mentored two T32 fellows and he also mentored Dr. Benjamin Canales, Associate Professor of Urology who was the 2016 Golden Cystoscope Award recipient.
The 2016 AUA Gold Cystoscope Award winner was Dr. Benjamin Canales. This prestigious award is given annually to one urologist in the US distinguished by outstanding contributions to the profession within ten years of completing residency training. In addition to a cash honorarium, he received a gold-plated cystoscope at the annual AUA meeting in San Diego. Dr. Canales was selected for this honor on the basis of his exemplary research initiatives in the pathogenesis of nephrolithiasis, which include the development of new animal models and the exploration for novel therapeutic approaches.
In 2016, UF Urology was excited to have as our newest faculty member Dr. Brandon Otto. Dr. Otto our previous Endo/MIS Fellow. July 2016 welcomed the new Director of Health Care Administration Michelle Van Leer, RN, MSN. Michelle was formally the UF Health Urology Clinic Manager and served as interim Department Administrator.
The David M. Drylie, MD Visiting Professor/UroGators Alumni Weekend, featuring Dr. Peter N. Schlegel was to be held October 6-9, 2016. Due to Hurricane Matthew it was cancelled.
In 2017, UF Urology welcomed the addition of Dr. C. Gerry Henderson, as Adjunct Faculty. Dr. Henderson practices at the The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart in Pensacola, Florida.
UF Urology was happy to welcome back Dr. James “JB” Mason. Dr. Mason is a former graduate of the UF Department of Urology Residency Program and completed a one-year advanced fellowship in genitourinary reconstructive surgery at University of Iowa Healthcare, Iowa City, Iowa.
Nine faculty members within the UF Health Academic Health Center were recognized for receiving endowed professorships or chairs during the sixth annual Celebrating Distinction ceremony held at the Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute. To commemorate the appointments, each faculty member received a chair made of solid maple hardwood featuring engraved gold nameplates. Honored from the UF Department of Urology were Dr. Vincent G. Bird, David A. Cofrin Endowed Chair in Endourology and Dr. Li-Ming Su, David A. Cofrin Professor of Urologic Oncology.
Dr. Benjamin Canales, was presented the Cook Urological Arthur Smith award, the award commonly known as the “Arthur”, in 2017, at the 35th World Congress of Endourology meeting held in Vancouver, Canada. With NIH funding, Dr. Canales created a hyperoxaluric animal model of bariatric surgery and is developing strategies for spot urinary testing and kidney stone prevention. The initial award was presented to Dr. Arthur Smith, the famed “father of endourology”, in 2004 and was subsequently named in his honor.
The 2017 David M. Drylie, MD Visiting Professor/UroGators Alumni Society Weekend was held October 5-7, 2017, featuring Dr. Peter N. Schlegel, as our Visiting Professor. Our schedule of events began Thursday, October 5th with our UF urology residents hosting dinner for Drs. Schlegel and Pfeifer. With Amelia’s as the backdrop, good food, conversation and learning began. Friday, October 6th, Dr. Schlegel covered many subjects ranging from varicocele repair, testosterone replacement, NOA, Kleinfelter’s, and assisted reproductive techniques. Our residents presented case studies and we closed the day with a great multiD conference with our reproductive endocrinology and infertility team. Dr. Schlegel’s Visiting Professor Lecture, held in the Harrell Medical Education Building South Learning Studio on Friday afternoon at 5:30 pm, welcomed faculty, residents, alumni and guests from other departments including endocrinology and the Institute of Aging. Immediately following the lecture, our UF Urology David M. Drylie, MD Visiting Professorship Lecture Visiting Professor/UroGators Alumni Society Welcome Reception took place in the Scott Commons area within the Harrell Medical Education Building. Homecoming Saturday, October 7th closed out our Visiting Professor events with our UroGators Alumni Society Tailgate held on the North Lawn of the Reitz Union. We welcomed back recent graduates, guests, family and a host of friends.
February 2018 saw the expansion of advanced practice providers (APPs) in our UF Health Urology Clinic. After receiving specific urology training, these APPs are now able to assist in providing continuity of care to a full spectrum of urology patients. They represent a cultural shift and transformation in urology patient care by having some autonomy, as well as, on site urologist supervision in providing timely care of our patients. Click here for more information regarding APPS.
In July 2018 UF Urology and our pediatric urology division welcomed Dr. Christopher E. Bayne. A graduate of Eastern Virginia Medical School, in Norfolk, Virginia, he completed his urology residency at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Dr. Bayne recently completed his fellowship in pediatric urology at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. He is a wonderful addition to pediatric urology and will continue the work in pediatric urology begun by Dr. Dixon Walker.
October 4 – 6, 2018 The UF Department of Urology and the UroGators hosted the 5th Annual David M. Drylie Visiting Professor Events with Dr. Stephen Nakada, Chairman, Department of Urology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, as the guest lecturer. The highlight for all was the Friday night event to celebrate 60 Years of Urology at the University of Florida.
November 2018 saw the addition of Urologic Oncologist, Dr. Padriac O’Malley and Joint Assistant Professor, Dr. Joe Grajo. Dr. O’Malley completed his fellowship at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York. Dr. Grajo currently serves as the Assistant Professor & Chief, Abdominal Imaging, Vice Chair, Research, Associate Program Director, Diagnostic Radiology Residency Program, Program Director, Abdominal Imaging Fellowship and Director, MRI in the UF Department of Radiology.
In 2019 UroGators were well represented at the Southeastern Section of the American Urological Association Meeting, American Urological Association Annual Meeting and the Florida Urological Society Meeting. UF Urology researchers, Sergei Kusmartsev, PhD and Paul Crispen, MD, received a $500K philanthropic gift to support research efforts by investigating the role of immune escape and bladder cancer pathogenesis. With the release of the US News and World Reports Best Hospitals rankings, the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital was ranked #24 in adult urology among 1,495 urology programs evaluated in the United States. This placed our program as the second highest ranked urology program in the Southeastern Section of the American Urological Association and the leading academic urology program in the state of Florida. Of the seven ranked medical and surgical specialties, the urology department was the highest ranked surgical discipline at UF Health. Several faculty were promoted and recognized in the fall: Paul L. Crispen, MD, was promoted to Associate Chair of Clinical Affairs for UF Urology, Lawrence L. Yeung, MD, was promoted to Associate Medical Director, Thomas F. Stringer, MD, was promoted to Associate Chair of Philanthropy and Alumni Affairs and Benjamin K. Canales, MD was named one of UF’s College of Medicine 2019-20 University Term Professors.
October 4 – 5, 2019, The UF Department of Urology and the UroGators hosted the 6th Annual David M. Drylie Visiting Professor Events with honored guest and Visiting Professor Allen Morey from UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.
December, 2019 saw the retirement of Ahmad Z. Vafa, MD. Dr. Vafa had been affiliated with the University of Florida since his hire as a new faculty member at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center (VAMC) in 2004, where he served as the chief of urology. He was instrumental in establishing an outstanding urology clinic for our veterans, as well as organized resident education and training. James (JB) Mason, MD was named Acting Chief, Urology Section.
Adjunct Faculty, Michael Binder, MD, retired in February 2020. Dr. Binder had been affiliated with the University of Florida since his hire as a new faculty member at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center (VAMC) in January 2009.
In the Spring of 2020 Benjamin Canales, MD agreed to serve as the Director of Urologic Research for the UF Department of Urology. Dr. Canales had already been fulfilling many duties regarding research oversight within the department.
As plans were in motion for the UroGators to attend and present at the 2020 Southeastern Section of the American Urological Association Meeting and the 2020 American Urological Association Annual Meeting, both were cancelled due to the spread of the coronavirus. Unprecedented changes were made at UF Heath and UF Urology to “flatten the curve” and assist the overwhelmed health care systems.