Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center

Medical College of Virginia Hospitals and the Massey Cancer Center

Richmond, Virginia

Training Program Director: Brian Kaplan, MD

The Division of Surgical Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University's VCU Medical Center offers one fellowship position each year into a 2-year program of advanced training in complex general surgical oncology and cancer research. Eighteen months are entirely clinical, and 6 months are devoted to basic research and basic science didactic training. The goal of the training experience is to produce an academic surgeon who is capable of taking a leadership role in the multi-disciplinary care of cancer patients, as well as being qualified to carry on basic and/or clinical translational research in cancer.

Clinical Rotations

The clinical rotations consist of 10 months on the Surgical Oncology service, which includes primary evaluation, operative and post-operative care of patients with cancers of the breast, head and neck, esophagus, upper GI tract, pancreas and biliary tree, liver, colon and rectum, melanomas, and sarcomas. This service also provides all of the general surgical and supportive surgical care for patients with other non-surgical malignant diseases. Additional clinical rotations in year 1 include thoracic surgery and minimally invasive breast procedures. One month rotations in medical oncology, radiation oncology, urologic oncology, gynecologic oncology, orthopedic oncology and pathology (surgical and cytopathology) one month rotations occur in the second year. Six months are devoted to laboratory/translational research.
Medical College of Virginia Hospitals at VCU Medical Center has more than 900 beds (250 Surgery); over 1800 new cancer patients are seen each year. The Division of Surgical Oncology admits 450 patients per year and performs approximately 1,300 surgical procedures yearly. Care of patients with cancer at the VCU Medical Center is focused in the Massey Cancer Center, with a heavy emphasis on multi-disciplinary care for most patients.

Research Opportunities

The Massey Cancer Center is an NCI-designated Clinical Cancer Center, with extensive clinical and basic research programs. During 6 months’ research experience, the trainee can choose from numerous well-funded laboratory investigators as mentors, in any of the major programs of the Cancer Center. These include Cancer Cell Signaling, Cancer Molecular Genetics, Developmental Therapeutics, Radiation Biology and Oncology, and Cancer Prevention and Control. During the second year, the fellow will also take one graduate level basic science course each semester, such as Immunobiology, Biostatistics, Biology of Neoplasia, Molecular Biology, Scientific Ethics, or other courses in the basic science departments, depending on the specific needs and interests of the fellow.
By the time the fellow completes training, he/she should have published several papers on basic and/or clinical research topics, as well as one or two retrospective clinical review papers. Support is available for fellows to travel to major meetings and/or to present research results accepted for meetings. The program will prepare the trainee to enter an academic career, with the ability to carry out laboratory and clinical research, compete for funding and establish a strong clinical practice in an academic cancer center.

Meetings and Conferences

The fellow will learn about all aspects of oncology and oncologic surgery from regular conferences and lectures, including: Surgical Oncology case conference (weekly), Breast Health Center (weekly), , ward rounds with attendings (twice weekly), Surgical Grand Rounds (weekly), Department of Surgery Death & Complications Conference (weekly), Tumor Board ( biweekly), GI Tumor Center ( weekly), Hematology/Oncology Fellows Lectures (weekly), and Surgical Oncology Journal Club (monthly). In addition, there is a monthly didactic presentation by one of the fellows on a topic in surgical oncology and quarterly Surgical Oncology national videoconferences. The Massey Cancer Center sponsors several seminars each month, at which local or visiting research scientists present their work, and these are attended during the research training years.


Applications must be filed through ERAS by August 15, 2015. Please include  three letters of recommendation, one from your Department of Surgery Chair or Program Director and two from faculty members who have worked closely with you during your surgery training.  The Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship program participates in the NRMP and the rank order list will be submitted October 28, 2015 by the program.

Contact Information

Training Program Director: Brian Kaplan, MD
Professor of Surgery

Virginia Commonwealth University
PO Box 980011
Richmond, VA 23298-0011

Phone: 804-828-9325
Fax: 804-828-4808
 Program Coordinator:   Ms. Ann Whitaker
 Phone:  804-828-9322

For additional information via the internet, please refer to the following sites:

VCU Department of Surgery

VCU Medical Center

Massey Cancer Center