Dr. Gurtner Accepts Position as Chair of UA Dept. of Surgery

October 27, 2021

Dr. Geoff Gurtner has accepted the position of Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona.

“Dr. Gurtner has given his incredible talents and efforts to Stanford Plastic Surgery over the past 16 years,” said Dr. James Chang, Gurtner’s Chief in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “We are thrilled that he will have the chance to lead the Department of Surgery at the University of Arizona. Congratulations Geoff!”

Gurtner came to Stanford Surgery from New York University, his first faculty position, in 2005.

“I had a great clinical practice, but you have to decide what you want to do with your life, and I wanted to be more involved on the innovation side,” said Gurtner. “I always wanted to see if stuff worked in the real world, but at the time, Manhattan just wasn’t the right environment. I said, ‘I bet I can find people who know how to do that in Silicon Valley.’”

Today, Gurtner is the Department’s inaugural Vice Chair of Innovation. He has several drugs in clinical trials and has developed multiple ideas from bench to bedside including embrace®, a shrinking dressing that helps reduce scarring and has treated over 250,000 patients. Indeed, in addition to innovation, wound healing has been a theme of Gurtner’s Stanford tenure. Gurtner et al published groundbreaking research on scarless wound healing earlier this year, and he was the main proponent behind the opening of Stanford’s Advanced Wound Care Center.

“Dr. Gurtner has been at the forefront of translational medicine in terms of wound healing,” said Chang. “He is the founder of the very successful Stanford Wound Care Center, which continues to take care of a tremendous number of patients with complex wounds.”

The Advanced Wound Care Center opened in October 2014 in Redwood City with a multidisciplinary team including surgeons, radiologists, physical therapists, nutritionists, and social workers.

“Developing the Wound Care Center required us to be nimble, creative, collaborative, and flexible. We also had to reach out to more diverse patient populations,” said Gurtner. “There were a lot of things that were different and, I think, good for the institution.”

The Wound Care Center has received numerous grants, is part of the NIDDK Diabetic Foot Consortium, and is actively participating in multiple clinical trials.

“It just proves that—even in this day and age—you can meet both commercial and academic goals,” said Gurtner.

Gurtner hopes to take this way of thinking to the University of Arizona where he says the environment is ripe for growth.

“It’s not like Harvard or Stanford or Hopkins where things are established, but more of a ‘startup’ environment, and that’s appealing to me. I think there are ways to do things differently that can work better for patients and innovation,” said Gurtner. “I think in five or ten years it will be a great and unique department.”

Gurtner will be missed by his fellow faculty members, patients, and trainees, who call him “the ideal mentor.”

“Dr. Gurtner provided me with an opportunity to succeed. He has always been extremely supportive of my ideas and initiatives, he has championed my path into and through residency, and he continues to provide invaluable advice and guidance,” said Dr. Zeshaan Maan, a chief resident in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Hagey Lab researcher. “I can honestly say that without Dr. Gurtner I would not be where I am.”

“Many of [Gurtner’s] research fellows have become great residents, fellows, and faculty,” said Chang. “He has trained an entire generation of researchers to become fantastic plastic surgeons.”

A photo of Geoff Gurtner from 2009.