Department of Surgery

Newsletter | September 2020

Refreshed Website

Our department website recently had a makeover! On our refreshed website, you will find information pertinent to faculty guidelines and policies; medical student clerkships; residency programs; giving; various resources; and our people .

You may view our website at

We also encourage you to share your story ideas, updates, and publications! Please contact or for inquiries.

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Starting From the Inside Out

Each fall for the past twelve years, JABSOM has conducted an internal giving campaign – Starting From the Inside Out – that asks faculty and staff to provide financial support for the school.

As always, we encourage you to support an area of the school that is meaningful to you. We will continue to offer matching funds to encourage participation and increase the value of your gift. The campaign runs from October 16 – November 16.

We know that this is a difficult year for giving with personal finances being impacted by COVID-19. This year, all awards will be matched dollar-for-dollar on a rising scale up to $100. This will also maximize the value of small donations and truly reward participation.

Please consider making your gift today by clicking the "give now" button below.

For more information, please view the FAQs page or you may contact Dr. Lawrence Burgess, 2020 Internal Giving Campaign Co-Chair.

Should you wish to give specifically to the Department of Surgery, click here or visit our website and click "giving." Please note that this year's featured fund is the Surgery Education Fund (Fund #126-2640-4).

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Faculty Promotions

A big congratulations to the following surgical faculty who received a well-deserved promotion this year:

  • Dr. Nicholas Dang, promotion to Associate Clinical Professor
  • Dr. Sidney Johnson, promotion to Clinical Professor
  • Dr. Cedric Lorenzo, promotion to Associate Professor
  • Dr. Paul Morris, promotion to Associate Professor
  • Dr. Devin Puapong, promotion to Associate Clinical Professor
  • Dr. Stacey Woodruff, promotion to Associate Professor
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Surgeons Know How to Party, Too!

Due to COVID-19, we can safely assume that Halloween festivities may not commence, at least this year. To help us remember how it was observed in the pre-pandemic era, here is a little throwback last October 2019 when the American College of Surgeons held a Halloween-themed get-together at the Coin-Op in San Francisco hosted by our very own, Dr. Kenric Murayama. Whoever said surgeons do not know how to party is definitely wrong! Our surgery faculty could certainly attest to that.
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Residency Programs

Words by Residency Program Staff

General Surgery Residency Program

The Surgery Graduation Program took place on June 10 via the Zoom videoconferencing platform originating from Room 618 of the UH Tower*. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. and Mrs. Murayama were not able to host the graduation events at the Mid-Pacific Country Club. This would have been the 4th year of celebrating the residency graduations at that beautiful venue, everyone is hoping to return next year for the 2021 graduation events. *Social distancing and other COVID-related safety protocols were implemented!

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M. Krishna Rao, Colin Doyle, John Vossler, Ashley Marumoto, and Brian Hodgens, our 2020 graduates, were the honored guests via Zoom! Nearly 100 people, literally from around the world, connected to the event and the emotion was palpable. Faculty who introduced the “graduates as colleagues” to the local surgical community and family/friends were Dr. Danny Takanishi, Jr. (Krishna), Dr. David Inouye (Colin), Dr. Christina Souther (John), Dr. Fredrick Yost (Ashley), and Dr. Dean Mikami (Brian). Krishna is at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus doing a Colon & Rectal Surgery Fellowship. Colin is in practice as an ACS/Trauma/SICU attending at The Queen’s Medical Center. John is at the University of Utah School of Medicine doing a 2-year Fellowship in Thoracic Surgery. Ashley is doing a Breast-Oncology Fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Brian is at the Keck School of Medicine of USC doing an Advanced GI MIS Fellowship. Four of our five 2020 graduates have stated they are returning to Hawaii to practice after their subspecialty training. Those four are working on number five to return as well! The 2019-2020 graduation awards were presented as follows:

  • University of Hawaii Surgical Residency Program Outstanding Resident –John Vossler, MD
  • 2019-20 Resident Teacher of the Year as Selected by the JABSOM Class of 2021 – H. Akin Erol, MD
  • ABS In-Training Examination (ABSITE) Award – John Vossler, MD
  • Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons Resident Achievement Award – M. Krishna Rao, MD
  • 2020 Outstanding Research Award – John Vossler, MD
  • 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year Award as Selected by the Residents – Paul Morris, MD and Russell Woo, MD (co-recipients)

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On To The Next Chapter

Words by Gary Belcher, M.Ed.

The newsletter editors asked me to write a little something as I say aloha to the Department of Surgery and Hawaii Residency Programs (HRP) effective September 15! For that, I am appreciative.

Background: I have worked for JABSOM and HRP since 1977 (age 21 through 65). I worked for the Dean’s Office from 1977 – 1992 providing media services support to the clinical departments at UH Tower (Surgery, Psychiatry & Medicine). In 1992 I went to work for HRP doing the same thing but adding in responsibilities for Information Technology as computers and digital media came into the workplace. In January 2007 (precisely, 1/10/07 at 10:25 a.m.) I moved to the Department of Surgery to be the Program Administrator for the Surgical and Orthopaedic Residency Programs and the Surgical Critical Care Fellowship.

Present: It has been an honor to serve and support the faculty, residents, the HRP leadership, and my staff. Seeing the residents arrive as medical students and leave as surgeons has also been indescribably rewarding. When I think about the last few decades some of the names that come to mind immediately are Rogers, Cadman, Whelan, Yu, Takanishi, Murayama, Richardson, Atkinson, Philpott, and Schiel – I appreciate these people immensely for sharing their immeasurable knowledge and providing me with the opportunity to have such a precious career in graduate medical education! There are literally hundreds of other remarkable people I have worked with and will never forget. One of the things I feel particularly good about is that I am able to leave the residency programs in the good and capable hands of administrative staff who I have worked closely with for many years (Karen Kurihara, Jamie Castelo, Lori Bland, and Naomi Gagabi). It has indeed been a pleasure!


Gary F. Belcher

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Staff Spotlight: Welcome, Philip!

A new addition to the Department of Surgery 'ohana is Philip Sarmiento who currently serves as the Coordinator for the Emergency Medicine Clerkship. Philip joins us from the Office of Student Academic Services at the School of Travel Industry Management at UH Mānoa.

Get to know a little more about Philip or fondly called Phil below.

  • Years in the Department: Roughly five months (started in April 2020)
  • Grad From: University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (B.A. '12, M.Ed. '19)
  • First Job: English tutor to international students while in college
  • Interests: Creative writing, traveling, and exploring coffee and pastry shops (but not during the COVID-19 era)
  • Fun Fact: He does not eat lamb because of the song “Mary had a little lamb"
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Parsa's Paintings

Words by Fereydoun Don Parsa, MD

It is fun and educational to walk through art galleries of museums where great paintings are on exhibit. The Louvre museum in Paris is one such place where the “Raft of Medusa” is on permanent exhibit. This masterpiece as seen on this below is by the 19th-century French artist Theodore Gericault (1791-1824) and has become an icon of Romanticism. It depicts an event of great social and political scope in the history of France. The painting tells the story of the wreck of the French frigate “Medusa” off the coast of Senegal (East Africa) in 1816, with over 150 souls on board. A poorly constructed raft drifted away on a bloody 13-day odyssey including cannibalism that was to save only 10 lives. The painter researched the event in detail and interviewed the survivors. He also did anatomic studies of cadavers and made numerous sketches before deciding on his definitive composition. The primary cause of this tragic wreck was the captain’s inexperience and arrogance.

The tragedy began when the “Medusa” became stuck in a sandbar that captain could have easily avoided had he heeded to advice by experienced sailors on board who did their best to dissuade him in taking this tragic path. Improper measures were taken in constructing a small raft and overcrowding it with 150 people. The raft was abandoned to the waves and drifted aimlessly in the tropical waters. To make the matters worse, the captain cut the cord that was attached in tow to the lifeboat so that he and his affluent friends could reach the

coast of Africa safer and faster. The occupants of the raft spent a miserable existence with basically no water or food and by the time they reached the African coast their number of 150 had been reduced to 10. All historians agree that the wreck was a direct result of the captain’s arrogance, lack of experience, and poor judgment. Had the captain shown humility rather than arrogance by heeding good advice this incident would not have happened.

Photo courtesy of the Louvre Museum

Raft of Medusa
My painting below illustrates a team of surgeons during an operation. I have attempted to show the value of teamwork where the individual’s “selfish barriers” are removed and the team becomes a unified body that is closely bound together. In such a situation, the primary surgeon (the captain of the ship) becomes part of this closely-knit group whose sole mission is to do what is best and safest for the patient. The primary surgeon, his assistant, the student, the anesthesiologist, and the scrub nurse become unified thus leaving no room for arrogance and selfish conduct that adversely affects the outcome of the operation.
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