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Resident Research

The University of Washington School of Medicine and the Department of Surgery are both in the top five of NIH funded institutions and departments of surgery in the country. This environment provides extraordinary basic science and clinical research opportunities in some of the foremost research labs in the U.S. Research during the surgical residency years is optional, but most General Surgery residents spend two to three years of dedicated research time making our training program a total of seven to eight years for most residents. Research is recommended and the majority of our residents spend at least two years in the lab but the program maintains flexibility in the timing of research. An option for obtaining a PhD is available. Typically, residents enter the lab for two years following the completion of the R2 or R3 year.

Some of our residents choose to do research at the end of their five years of uninterrupted clinical training. The intent is to develop physician-scientists in mentored career awards who can enter their first academic appointment with a funded research program up and running.

The research opportunities during residency training in the Department of Surgery at the University of Washington are very broad. We are committed to supporting diverse research interests in our residents and mentor them to fulfill their personal goals. Past residents have spent their research years doing cutting edge basic science work, large-scale health services research projects in conjunction with an MPH, bioinformatics and simulation/robotics, health policy, medical communication, and surgical education research. A clinical research fellowship track is also available for those interested in an academic career in Global Health. Specific areas of investigative interest for our faculty members can be viewed on our Department of Surgery Research Report.

Research is primarily funded through extramural awards and NIH training grants. Our department and the university at large have several funded NIH training grants for which our residents are in an excellent position to compete. As part of the research training, all residents will learn grant writing skills. Many of our residents have applied for and won prestigious research competitions from national surgical societies. The department expects resident research to be done at the University of Washington given the enormous resources available. Requests for research or additional degrees to be performed at another institution are only granted in the event of a unique and extraordinary opportunity not available in a generally similar form at UW (the resident would need to acquire their own funding for salary and/or tuition). It is the opinion of the department that we have a collective responsibility to use UW resources and take seriously this charge, so over ninety-five percent of our residents stay at UW. When grant support is not available The John and Helen Schilling Surgery Resident Research Endowment supports resident research by providing salary support for one individual. Research residents are also eligible to apply for loan repayment programs through the National Institutes of Health, which may yield an additional $35,000 a year for each year spent in laboratory research in addition to regular salary support. Residents are free to moonlight during the research years, provided it does not interfere with their laboratory responsibilities.

Endowed Lectures

  • Harkins Symposium
  • Strauss Lecture
  • Schilling Lecture

The UW Harkins Symposium is a free one-day educational symposium for regional surgical residents which focus on technical aspects of surgery. The speakers are local and nationally known experts in their field and describe how they achieve their excellent clinical results. Residents from the University of Washington, University of British Columbia, Swedish Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center, and Madigan Army Medical Center are all invited to attend the event. The UW is committed to providing this symposium free of charge to residents, fellows, and medical students. This symposium ends with the Strauss Lecture.

Dr. Alfred A. Strauss was born in Germany in 1881. At the age of ten his family came to the United States and settled in Eastern Washington. He graduated from the University of Washington with honors in 1904. While at UW he was a football star and maintained a strong connection to the UW as an alumnus by his active participation in the areas of football recruitment and scholarships. In 1908 he received his medical degree from Rush Medical College and was later an intern at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. He spent his entire medical career in Chicago and was well known for his research and pioneering techniques in the field of abdominal surgery. In 1950 Dr. Strauss established the Alfred A. Strauss lecture in the Department of Surgery at the University of Washington. His lecture entitled "The Clinical End Result in the Surgical Treatment of Carcinoma of the Stomach and Colon since 1915 and Observations of the Relative Acquired Immunity Against Carcinoma Following Surgery" was the first. Each year the Strauss Lectureship supports a national or international figure in surgery to come to the University of Washington and interact with our students, residents and faculty.

Strauss History: 1950-2013

The Helen and John Schilling Endowed Lectureship was established by the late Helen Schilling to bring distinguished scholars to the Department of Surgery at the University of Washington, and to enhance the Department's commitment to the highest standards of patient care, teaching, research and scholarship. It was Mrs. Schilling's wish that the lectureship be in honor of her husband and former Chairman of the department, Dr. John Schilling, who devoted his life to academic medicine in a career spanning 50 years. The annual Schilling Resident Research Day is held each February. This resident research forum provides a venue for presentation of resident research, as well as a funded lecturer picked from the most prominent surgical investigators in the world, who presides as a visiting professor.

Schilling History: 1995-2014