BROOKLYN, NY (January 20, 2011) – During the last 100 years, Maimonides Medical Center has been a focus of innovation and excellence in surgery. As the Medical Center marks its Centennial Year, the Department of Surgery is celebrating this tradition of exceptional patient care, surgical training and leading-edge research.

“The Maimonides Centennial is an opportunity to look back with pride at our Department’s remarkable history,” said Dr. Patrick Borgen, Chair of Surgery, “And also to look forward to exciting developments in technology, research and advancements in surgical care.”

Maimonides has been the site of numerous historic achievements in surgery, from the first human heart transplant in the US in 1967, to the first-ever use of closed-circuit television in an Operating Room (OR) for teaching purposes in 1939, to the first robotically-assisted pediatric surgery in 2001. All along the way, Maimonides surgeons set a standard for surgical excellence and pushed the limits of what was considered possible.

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) first accredited the institution in 1923, when it was known as United Israel Zion Hospital. The ACS acknowledged the hospital’s growing expertise in specialized surgery in 1957 when Maimonides was included in the Federal Registry of Cancer Facilities. And in 2009, the ACS conferred on Maimonides an “Excellent Outcomes in General Surgery” award.

Surgical Pioneers

The Department of Surgery at Maimonides has long been renowned for its prestigious roster of surgical specialists – a virtual “Who’s Who” of surgical achievement in America over the past century.

In 1945, Dr. Rudolph Nissen became Chief of Surgery. This noted surgical pioneer went on to develop a procedure that prevents gastric acid from refluxing into the esophagus – the Nissen Fundoplication. Dr. Nissen also developed surgical strategies for repairing abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), and was called upon to consult on that condition in legendary physicist Albert Einstein.Operating room in Maimonides Medical Center in 1965.

Dr. Charles B. Ripstein broke ground on several patented approaches to controlling a patient’s temperature in the 1950’s, and was published along with colleagues from virtually every specialty on such diverse topics as pericarditis, gall bladder surgery, postcardiotomy syndrome, peptic ulcers, upper-GI hemorrhage, drug withdrawal and an operation for colon prolapse repair that still bears his name. It was Dr. Ripstein who established the division of Cardiac Surgery at Maimonides, though it would be another decade before heart surgery was recognized nationally as a subspecialty.

Visionary surgeon Adrian Kantrowitz led a team that produced one of the earliest implantable pacemakers (1962), and he was the first US surgeon to implant a partial mechanical heart in 1966. A year later he performed the nation’s first successful human heart transplant, and invented the intra-aortic balloon pump – a device that still saves thousands of lives a year. And in 1972, Dr. Kantrowitz developed the first left-ventricular-assist device (LVAD), technology that he continued to improve and refine until his death in 2009.

The Modern Era

In 1982, Dr. Joseph Cunningham developed a surgical technique to detect and reduce spinal cord injury during repair of aortic aneurysm. Under Dr. Cunningham’s leadership, an Ambulatory Surgery Unit was created in response to growing evidence that patient outcomes could improve with shorter hospital stays. He also established a division of Laparoscopic Surgery, encouraging less-invasive approaches. Use of the daVinci Surgical Robot was a natural next-step for the department. Maimonides boasted the very first surgical robot in Brooklyn and our surgeons performed the first robotically-assisted pediatric surgical procedure in this country.

“This is an exciting era in the history of surgical practice in the US,” Dr. Borgen explained. “For instance, advances in imaging technology abound, providing surgeons with incredibly detailed and accurate views of surgical anatomy.

Under Dr. Borgen’s leadership, a new suite of Operating Rooms has been opened at Maimonides, placing that imaging technology at the fingertips of every surgeon, and providing the most comprehensive training for surgical residents and fellows.

The new Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Maimonides also incorporates the most advanced technology – in a highly therapeutic setting atop the newest hospital pavilion with enormous windows bringing in natural light, and providing patients with panoramic views of Brooklyn.

The current roster of Maimonides surgeons is every bit as impressive as that of the pioneers of its storied past:

  • Dr. Patrick Borgen – Chair of Surgery, Dr. Borgen is among the world’s leading experts on breast cancer. He played a leadership role in the discovery of genes that cause breast cancer and developed surgical techniques that are now the gold-standard for treatment, including: sentinel node biopsy, minimally-invasive breast surgery, and skin-sparing mastectomy. Dr. Borgen heads the Brooklyn Breast Cancer Program and is President-Elect of the Brooklyn Surgical Society, America’s second-oldest surgical association.
  • Dr. Joel Horovitz – Vice Chair of Surgery and Chief of General Surgery, Dr. Horovitz is an expert on patient safety, surgical outcomes research and evidence based medicine.  He boasts post-graduate training from several prestigious schools including Oxford University.
  • Dr. David Feldman – Vice Chair of Surgery and Vice President for Patient Safety, Dr. Feldman introduced the Maimonides Surgical Checklist to standard protocols, initiating an unprecedented culture of safety in surgical services, and improving patient safety throughout the Medical Center.
  • Dr. Lloyd Gayle – Vice Chair of Surgery and Co-Director of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Gayle brings the latest advances in microsurgery to Maimonides patients. Dr. Gayle is experienced in autologous breast reconstruction utilizing microvascular techniques, and he completed a fellowship in Hand & Microsurgery.
  • Dr. Harry Adler – Associate Director of General Surgery, Dr. Adler has the longest tenure at Maimonides. His busy clinical practice is one of the main teaching forums in the Department of Surgery.
  • Dr. Greg Ribakove – Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery, Dr. Ribakove is a prominent researcher and respected teacher in the field of cardiovascular disease. Renowned for developing minimally-invasive valve surgery techniques along with his colleague Dr. Gregory Crooke, Dr. Ribakove’s division provides the most advanced surgery for atrial fibrillation, thoracic aneurysm, coronary bypass and valve disease.
  • Dr. Enrico Ascher – Chief of Vascular Surgery, Dr. Ascher is President of both the World Federation of Vascular Societies and the International Society for Vascular Surgery, and is a past president of several other prestigious vascular organizations. 
  • Dr. Julius Berger – Chief of Dentistry, Dr. Berger boasts one of the largest and most sought after dental residency programs in the world.
  • Dr. Daniel Hechtman – Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Dr. Hechtman leads a team of three fellowship-trained Pediatric Surgeons who specialize in minimally invasive approaches to surgery in children.
  • Dr. Norman Saffra – Chief of Ophthalmology, Dr. Saffra and his team provide state-of-the-art eye care, including laser procedures, for patients aged one week to 100+ years.
  • Dr. Amit Schwartz – Chief of Neurosurgery, Dr. Schwartz leads a team of three neurosurgeons with extensive expertise in brain tumors, stroke and spinal cord pathology.
  • Dr. Anna Serur – Chief of Colon & Rectal Surgery, Dr. Serur is an expert in the field of laparoscopic colon and rectal surgery. She has vast experience in treating colon and rectal disease, particularly ulcerative colitis, colon and rectal cancer, and Crohn's Disease.
  • Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh – Chief of Urology, Dr. Shabsigh is one of the world’s leading experts on men’s health issues and chairs the International Society for Men’s Health.
  • Dr. Danny Sherwinter – Chief of Minimally Invasive Abdominal Surgery, Dr. Sherwinter is an accomplished general surgeon with special expertise in obesity surgery. He leads the team that established the Bariatric Center of Excellence® at Maimonides, an elite designation conferred by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
  • Dr. David Silver – Chief of Urologic Oncology, Dr. Silver was the first surgeon to perform robotic prostatectomies in Brooklyn, and is among the nation’s most experienced in this minimally invasive surgical procedure.
  • Dr. Michael Weiss – Chief of Ear, Nose & Throat surgery (ENT), and Dr. Victor Lagmay, Director of Head & Neck Cancer Surgical Services, run one of this country’s busiest ENT surgical practices and, with Dr. Paul Vastola, Chief of Pediatric ENT, provide state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment for a broad range of health concerns.
  • Dr. Stephen Becker – Director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU), Dr. Becker leads a team that provides the highest level of care to our critically ill patients.
  • Drs. Jason Shaw & Igor Brichkov – A strong thoracic surgery team, Drs. Shaw and Brichkov treat patients with diseases of the lungs, esophagus, diaphragm, trachea, ribs and chest wall. These skilled surgeons perform laser procedures, lung-sparing surgical resections, and minimally-invasive procedures that include Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) and Radio Frequency Ablations (RFA).

According to Dr. Borgen, “Our protocols for patient safety are every bit as important as our surgical skills. In addition to utilizing pre- and post-operative checklists, we have incorporated the latest radio-frequency technology to track all surgical sponges and soft goods in the Operating Rooms.”

The teaching programs in the Department of Surgery at Maimonides also enhance the overall caliber and prestige of services. The department is home to 40 surgical residency positions, as well as several elite fellowship programs. Surgical residents and fellows are fully-trained physicians who compete to secure slots in accredited advanced training programs in order to gain specialized knowledge, skill and experience in a particular surgical sub-specialty.

Dr. Borgen foresees even more advances in the coming years, including natural orifice surgery (research currently is being conducted at Maimonides in this emerging technique), bloodless surgery, and other approaches to less-invasive procedures.

“The Department of Surgery at Maimonides is prepared to continue its tradition of excellence through the next hundred years and beyond,” he declared.

For more information about Surgery at Maimonides, visit the website at


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Maimonides Medical Center    |    4802 Tenth Avenue    |    Brooklyn, NY 11219    |    718.283.6000    |