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Geoffrey Gurtner, MD

1987-88 Sarnoff Fellow

2000-02 Sarnoff Scholar
Current Sarnoff Preceptor
Associate Professor of Surgery
Stanford University School of Medicine

What impact did the Sarnoff Fellowship year have on your career?

Although I am not a cardiologist, the Sarnoff program has had an incredible impact on my career. I would go so far as to say it has been the single most important factor influencing where I am today. The Sarnoff Fellowship year during medical school was critical in solidifying my interest in research. Subsequently, the flexibility of the Sarnoff Scholar Program allowed me to have protected time to start my lab at the beginning of my career. This type of support is extremely difficult to obtain in surgery departments. Without it, I am not sure I would have ever been able to obtain NIH funding and become independent.


Why should medical students consider the Sarnoff Fellowship apart from other programs?

The most important reason is the quality of personal attention and mentorship that one receives in the Sarnoff program. I have benefited from tremendous mentorship that has continued on to the present day from both my original Sarnoff fellowship mentor, Dr. Joseph Witztum, and my Sarnoff Scholar mentor, Dr. Mark Taubman. I think this is substantially different from other programs that support medical student research.


What are your professional aspirations?

My professional aspirations are to improve patient care both through basic scientific discovery and translation in the clinic. My interest currently is in regenerative medicine and my focus has been on understanding and utilizing different putative stem cells populations to repair and regenerate damaged tissue. As a surgeon, I am extremely interested in driving this work into the clinic and this has led me into entrepreneurial endeavors, an important part of my career.


What is your greatest professional accomplishment?

As a relatively young surgeon-scientist, I would hope that my greatest professional accomplishments are still in the future. To date the accomplishments of which I am most proud are three medical device start-up companies that have been founded based on work from my lab in the area of fibrosis, vascular anastomosis and wound healing. As all three are currently in the clinic, I hold out the hope that they will succeed in changing the way we practice medicine and improve the care of patients.


What is your most memorable Sarnoff moment?

I was fortunate to be around when Dr. Sarnoff was still very active in the program. My fondest memories are of the traditional Saturday night dinners at his house which were always a boisterous affair, powered by both a love of knowledge and fine wine. These dinners showed me how much fun science could be and I have tried to run my lab accordingly.


What are your hobbies?

As a clinical surgeon with a NIH funded lab and three young boys I must admit to a lack of hobbies. I enjoy getting away with my family to the beaches or the mountains in northern California but I must admit that my true love is my job. I am fortunate enough to live three minutes away from my lab and often find myself there instead of making my self a more well rounded person!

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