The Stanford Department of Surgery currently educates more than 40 postdocs at varying levels of expertise. Mentors from all five of our clinical divisions (abdominal transplantation, general surgery, pediatric surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and vascular surgery) support the personal growth and professional development of postdoctoral trainees at labs across our Palo Alto campus.
A postdoc appointment at Stanford's Deptartment of Surgery can be achieved through multiple avenues. While Stanford will often list open positions, most of our postdocs start their journey by researching our faculty and finding a mentor. The Department of surgery also offers several ACGME and ASTS accredited fellowship programs.
Meet our Postdocs
Hossein Mohamadipanah, PhD
Mentor: Dr. Carla Pugh
The Technology Enabled Clinical Improvement (TECI) Center is the Department of Surgery’s newest research lab.
“There is a huge opportunity in solving surgical education problems,” said Dr. Hossein Mohamadipanah, TECI’s senior research scientist. “We focus on using technology to enhance surgical training programs.”
Dr. Mohamadipanah completed his master’s degree in robotics at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran before earning his PhD in medical robotics and machine learning at Oklahoma State University in 2014.
“I realized that there are many challenges in the medical field where research engineers like me could be helpful,” said Dr. Mohamadipanah.
So far, Dr. Mohamadipanah has worked on a variety of projects from investigating dexterity skills in virtual reality environments to developing a heart simulator to parse optimum hand movements of expert cardiologists during coronary artery graft bypass surgery.
“Collecting multiple source of data (e.g. video, force, motion tracking, etc.) from expert surgeons during their actions provides a unique opportunity to discern best practices,” said Dr. Mohamadipanah. “Once we quantify trainees’ actions, we can improve surgical training by providing objective learning feedback to them.”
Dr. Mohamadipanah says his vision for the future involves improving surgical training programs to provide the most effective and efficient pathways for surgical residents to achieve highest level of mastery in their field. His long-term goal involves designing semi-autonomous robots for surgical procedures.
“It is not possible to replace human surgeons with robots in the near future,” said Dr. Mohamadipanah. “To lower burden on surgeons during procedures, it is possible to delegate some portions of surgical tasks (e.g. suturing) to a robot, however, a human surgeon supervision and continuous monitoring on any delegated subtask is vital.”
Berenice Mbiribindi, MSc, PhD
Mentor: Dr. Sheri Krams
Berenice Mbiribindi, MSc, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in the Transplant Immunology Lab.
“The immune system has always fascinated me,” said Dr. Mbiribindi. “There is a large variety of immune cells that help us to fight cancer and microbes and keep us healthy, but I have a great interest in natural killer(NK) cells.”
NK cells are lymphocytes that belongs to the innate immunity system and rapidly sense and destroy abnormal cells.
Born in Congo, Dr. Mbiribindi moved to France as a young girl and earned her bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences at Paris Descartes University. After completing her master’s in Immunology and Microbiology at Pierre-and-Marie-Currie University, Dr. Mbiribindi moved across the Channel to work on her doctorate at the University of Southampton (United Kingdom). Dr. Mbiribindi says she decided to come to Stanford because, not only was Dr. Sheri Krams inviting her to research exactly what she was interested in, but she was giving her the opportunity to do so using Stanford's unparalleled resources.
“I’m investigating the role of NK cells in the recognition and response to Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) 90% of the world population is infected by EBV but it’s a-symptomatic because our immune system keeps it in check,” said Dr. Mbiribindi.
However, after organ transplantation, EBV can cause Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder (PTLD).
“In that situation the EBV can reactivate as the organ recipient’s immunity is not fully available to fight it due to the immunosuppression treatment,” said Dr. Mbiribindi. “The goal of my research is to utilize a NK-cell based approach to prevent disease caused by EBV.”
Dr. Mbiribindi was awarded The Transplantation Society Young Investigator Scientific Award 2018. She will present her work entitled, Natural killer cell recognition of peptides encoded by EBV latent cycle proteins, at the 27th International Congress of the Transplantation Society in Madrid later this year.
“There is still a lot to discover about these cells,” said Dr. Mbiribindi. “In the near future, I’m hoping to become a Primary Investigator and have my own team working on NK cells for therapeutic applications.”
Where are they now?
Melanie Rodrigues, PhD
Promoted to Instructor 2017
“Apart from being immersed in bench work, the distinguishing aspect of being in Dr. Geoffrey Gurtner’s lab has been the freedom to explore and determine the combinations of science that I want incorporated in my career,” said Dr. Rodrigues. “Mentoring students has been rewarding. I realized I enjoy grant writing. I have been exposed to the nuances of biomedical commercialization including working with biomedical accelerators and startups in the Silicon Valley. I have written a segment of an FDA-investigational new drug application.”
Born a small city on the south west coast of India, Dr. Rodrigues became fascinated with biotechnology while in high school. She went on to study Bioengineering in Bangalore, where she was exposed to stem cell research for the first time.
“It made me want to develop cell-based therapies, and I moved across continents to the University of Pittsburgh for a PhD.,” said Dr. Rodrigues.
Following her PhD, Dr. Rodrigues was intent on both basic in vivo discovery and developing technologies that could cure patients.
“I was drawn to Dr. Gurtner’s lab as it offered the entire pipeline of conducting research, developing products and commercializing therapies from within an academic setting,” said Dr. Rodrigues. “My work here at Stanford has focused on identifying ischemia-responsive circulating stem cells using single cell technologies, but also studied cellular heterogeneity in homeostasis and disease with a focus on type 2 diabetes.”
“There has always been time to do more and moments of boredom have been rare,” said Dr. Rodrigues. “I am grateful for the vast exposure I have received as postdoc, and look forward to translating this unique training in the years to come.”