Peter Schulam will lead the newly formed Department of Urology

Plans include more surgeons, a newly designed clinic and changes in care

Peter Schulam, MD

Peter G. Schulam, MD, PhD, is the new chair of the newly formed Department of Urology and chief of urology at Yale-New Haven Hospital. A native of New Haven, he left a prestigious position at the Ronald Reagan Medical Center at the University of California for a chance he said doesn’t come up often.

“Rarely does the opportunity come along where a department is built from the ground up, including the recruitment of faculty and personnel, and the design and build of new office and clinic space,” said Dr. Schulam, who will also lead the Prostate and Urologic Cancers Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital, and serve on the Yale Cancer Center's executive committee. “Because of Yale’s strength in medical research and the opening of the Smilow Cancer Hospital, I have a strong foundation on which to build a top tier urology program,” he said.

Leadership roles at Ronald Reagan

A native of New Haven, Dr. Schulam comes to Yale after serving as vice chair of urology at Ronald Reagan, chief of the division of endourology and minimally invasive surgery, and director of both the kidney stone treatment center and the surgical living kidney donor program. He was a professor of urology, and founder and co-director of the Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology.

He completed both his medical degree and PhD in immunology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He served as a general surgical intern, surgical resident and urology resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dr. Schulam is nationally known for his expertise in minimally invasive surgery and laparoscopic techniques. He has longstanding clinical interests in adrenal disorders; bladder, prostate and kidney cancers; donor nephrectomy; and kidney stones and kidney reconstruction.

“Peter has a unique combination of exceptional clinical skills, dynamic leadership ability and scientific insight, which are essential to building a great urology department,” said Thomas Lynch, Jr. MD, director of the Yale Cancer Center and Physician-in-Chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital.

Taking Yale urology to a new level

At Yale, Dr. Schulam expects to take urology to a new level in the next three to five years. He will be recruiting two new surgeons who will treat patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven, and seven who will work at the Yale Medical Center campus.

He is directing the refurbishment of a clinical space on the third floor of the Yale Physicians Building that will serve as the new urology clinic. Select oncology patients who require multidisciplinary care will be seen in Smilow, where he expects to work closely with Roy Herbst, MD, chief of medical oncology and associate director of translational research.

Unique set of skills

Dr. Schulam said his experiences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA will help him at Yale. “I happened to be at UCLA at the right time,” he said, explaining that he arrived at the medical center when it was planning and building the Ronald Reagan Hospital. He was “on the ground floor” of helping to design all of the operating rooms, was a member of the executive board and was involved in administrative decisions. “All of those responsibilities helped me develop a unique set of skills that I think will play out well here in building a new program.”

At Johns Hopkins, he began collaborating with the school of bioengineering to develop new technologies. At UCLA, he co-founded and was director of the Center for Advanced Surgical and Interventional Technology (CASIT). CASIT is a research facility that draws together scientists from the school of engineering with physicians in the medical center to develop novel surgical and interventional technologies for patient care, education and training. He expects to explore similar collaborations at Yale.

Active surveillance for prostate cancer

Dr. Schulam is especially excited about establishing an active surveillance program for kidney and prostate cancer patients at Yale. The prostate program will incorporate radiologists, surgeons and engineers collaborating to use imaging, including advanced imaging (MRI) combined with real-time ultrasound, and biopsies to target and monitor suspicious lesions, obviating the need for surgery for many patients found to have low-grade disease.

“Yale has the potential to be a world leader in research and treatment of urologic disease.” Dr. Schulam said. “Our success will depend in part by linking Yale’s strength in research with state-of-the-art patient care.”