Welcome from Chairman Joseph B. Zwischenberger, MD

Welcome to the Surgery Department at the University of Kentucky. We are on a state supported mission to become a top 20 surgery department in the United States. As Chairman, my job is to ensure outstanding performance in every facet of the departmental mission as an academic surgical department and to lead through demonstration of excellence, innovation, compassion, and dedicated citizenry.

Vice Chair for Surgical Research
B. Mark Evers, MD
Professor of Surgery
Director, Markey Cancer Center
Physician-In-Chief, Oncology Service
Vice Chair for VA Affairs
Eric Q. Ballert, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Chief of Surgical Services
Veterans Administration Hospital
Vice Chair for Surgical Education
Joseph A. Iocono, MD
Associate Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics
Chief, Pediatric Surgery
Surgical Director, Pediatric Trauma and ECMO Programs


We are making certain that the citizens of Kentucky can stay in Kentucky for all their health care needs. Our faculty is exceptional and continues to grow as we fill areas of strategic need for services identified by the UK Medical Center as necessary for providing the best care possible to our patients. New additions to our department in 2010 included clinical specialists in the areas of trauma, pediatric urology, colorectal surgery, craniofacial plastic surgery, surgical oncology, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, general surgery and dermatology.

We have also recruited top faculty providing translation of healthcare from bench-to-bedside. Dr. B. Mark Evers, an internationally recognized gastrointestinal and endocrine surgeon and scientist, joined us as the new Director of the Markey Cancer Center. He brought with him a top-tier program of molecular research and four new labs devoted to areas of surgical investigation.


The Department of Surgery has many faculty members who are involved in a wide variety of investigations. Though the NIH has continued to see a decline in grants submitted by first-time investigators, the Department has seen an increase. Thirteen grants were submitted by the Department in response to the Recovery Act Stimulus Funding; 9 by first-time applicants. Dr. Evers has been appointed as Vice Chair for surgical research and is now directly involved with grant application supervision.

The "Hanging with Zwisch" Research Colloquium, a lecture series dedicated to research interests, continues to grow. The Research Colloquium has been an ideal setting to flesh out ideas and to provide a forum of communication between researchers and faculty, medical students, residents and staff. Topics include NIH funding opportunities; an introduction to metastatic models of human cancer; an innovative technique for craniofacial surgery; a novel treatment strategy utilizing sterol mediators of pancreatic cancer growth and hedgehog pathways; and a guest presentation on all the new guidelines established by the NIH.

My own research interests continue to develop. Ten grant applications, including 3 submitted through the Stimulus Recovery Act, were submitted during 2009 to the NIH, DARPA, and American Lung Association. These focused on the subjects of hyperthermia, artificial lung development, the role of TRPV1 in severe lung injury, and the development of a wound stasis system. A new double lumen cannula for ECMO, developed over the last five years, was awarded a U.S. patent and received FDA approval. An additional U.S. patent (US 7,524,277) was awarded in 2009 for an Apex to Aorta Cannula Assembly designed for assisting a damaged heart with circulating blood. My lab has also initiated an application to patent a rotary pump for an artificial lung system. A provisional patent was filed for a novel delivery device for a hemostatic agent which is currently being developed by UK and Dr. David Puleo in Biomedical Engineering in partnership with LifeBond. We are also working with the UK Office for Commercialization and Economic Development to produce both a funded/publication record of the agent while still inventing new devices that require protection of intellectual property.

Our Clinical Operations

Our surgeons practice in a variety of operating room settings revolving around central facilities at the UK Medical Center. These include Kentucky Children's Hospital, the Center for Advanced Surgery, Gill Heart Institute, Markey Cancer Center, UK Good Samaritan Hospital, the Transplant Center, and a number of regional clinics. Despite the economic turn-down, the operating rooms at UK are operating at or above capacity almost daily and the number of surgeries each month has surpassed 2000 for 10 consecutive months, an indication of our clinical success. In addition, our relationship with the Lexington VA Hospital is strong with Erik Q. Ballert, M.D. (Gastrointestinal Surgery) serving as Chief of Surgery.

The Surgery Department website features a wealth of information on our program, its educational initiatives and our faculty practice. If you are a potential medical student or resident, I encourage you to explore it in more detail and to contact us.

Finally, Lexington, KY is a wonderful community that offers something for everyone. It is one of the safest and most livable cities in the country and many residents own homes which are close to campus. Child care is readily available and the public schools are excellent. UK itself has over 30,000 students with a vibrant campus and superb team sports!