Pediatric surgeon J. Ted Gerstle, MD, FACS, FRCS, has been named the new Chief of the Pediatric Surgery Service in the Department of Surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). An accomplished physician and leader, Dr. Gerstle most recently served as Director of the Surgical Oncology Program in the Division of General and Thoracic Surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University of Toronto. Dr. Gerstle formally assumes his new role as Michael P. La Quaglia, MD, FACS, FRCS, steps down after 30 years. Dr. La Quaglia will remain at MSK and continue to treat pediatric patients.
Dr. Gerstle is an internationally recognized surgeon with a special interest in the treatment of solid tumors of the chest and abdomen, particularly neuroblastoma. At SickKids, he was an associate scientist in translational medicine at the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning and an associate professor of surgery at the University of Toronto. He has focused his research efforts on understanding the ways that high-intensity focused ultrasound treats solid tumors in preclinical models of disease and combining its effects with drug delivery and immunotherapy, with the ultimate goal of bringing such combined treatments to the bedside.
“Dr. Gerstle brings to MSK his commitment to caring for children with the utmost compassion while employing the highest level of surgical skill in the treatment of cancer,” said Jeffrey Drebin, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Surgery at MSK. “We are thrilled to have his expertise in the operating room and innovative research here at MSK to continue the vital work in the field of pediatrics that Dr. La Quaglia has been leading.”
“We are absolutely delighted to have Dr. Gerstle lead our already pioneering Pediatric Surgery Service,” said Andrew Kung, MD, PhD, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at MSK. “He has a progressive vision for the future of pediatric surgical oncology and we know that without a doubt, under his leadership, MSK will continue to be the preeminent destination for the multidisciplinary care of children and adolescents with cancer.”
MSK’s Department of Pediatrics is a center of excellence for the comprehensive treatment of children, teenagers, and young adults with cancer and blood disorders. Comprising leading experts in pediatric malignancies, immune deficiencies, and stem cell transplantation biology, our staff is dedicated to seeking novel approaches to achieving more effective outcomes while reducing or minimizing the short- and long-term effects of treatment.
“I am honored and humbled to be taking the reins from Dr. La Quaglia, who is recognized as one of the leaders in the field of pediatric surgical oncology at the international level,” said Dr. Gerstle. “MSK has some of the most gifted and world-renowned surgeons, physicians, and scientists and one of the best pediatric surgical oncology programs in the world. I am eager to work with my colleagues to advance the frontiers of pediatric cancer, always with the care and outcome of patients in the clinic as our primary focus and motivation.”
Dr. Gerstle received his medical degree in 1988 from Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire. He trained at Penn State University in general surgery from 1988 to 1995, which included a postdoctoral research fellowship. He completed a pediatric surgery fellowship at SickKids in 1998, after which he became a full-time staff member. In addition to his clinical and academic focus on pediatric cancer, Dr. Gerstle has been actively involved in global child health projects in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Ethiopia. In January 2011 he became the Surgical Director for the Qatar Project, which was a joint initiative with SickKids International and the state of Qatar to build the country’s first children’s hospital in Doha.
Dr. Gerstle succeeds Dr. La Quaglia, who announced his intention to step down after serving as Chief of the Pediatric Surgery Service for more than two decades and creating one of the world’s most sought-after programs in pediatric oncology. Dr. La Quaglia, a world-renowned surgeon and physician, and his team perform more pediatric cancer surgeries than any other institution in the world — more than 500 procedures each year, in patients as young as newborns to young adults. MSK has special expertise in performing large, complicated surgeries, with exceptional experience in surgery for neuroblastoma and desmoplastic small round cell tumors as well as complex liver and thyroid surgery.