EASO Congress Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Philip Schauer

Philip R. Schauer, MD, is Chief of Minimally Invasive General Surgery and Director of the Cleveland Clinic Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. He is also Professor of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. He is immediate Past President of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

After receiving his medical degree from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Dr. Schauer completed his residency in surgery at the University of Texas, where he served as Chief Resident of General Surgery. He then completed a fellowship in laparoscopic surgery at Duke University Medical Centre in Durham, N.C. Prior to joining Cleveland Clinic in 2004, Dr. Schauer served as Director of Endoscopic Surgery, Director of Bariatric Surgery and Director of the Mark Ravitch/Leon Hirsch Centre for Minimally Invasive Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre.

Dr. Schauer’s clinical interests include surgery for severe obesity, minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopic) and gastrointestinal surgery. He has performed more than 4,000 operations for severe obesity. His research interests include the pathophysiology of obesity and related diseases, physiologic effects of laparoscopic surgery on postoperative injury and recovery, and outcomes of laparoscopic management of obesity, gastrointestinal diseases and hernias. He has also participated in the development of new minimally invasive, endoscopic and laparoscopic operations.

New concepts in surgical training and education have been a major focus of his educational interests. He has authored more than 200 scientific papers, editorials, textbook chapters, abstracts and video productions. He has been an invited speaker for more than 100 regional, national and international lectures on the subject of obesity surgery and laparoscopic surgery. He has been on the board of Governors of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) for the last 5 years.

You have been named one of the Best Doctors in America for 5 consecutive years. That’s really impressive!  Please tell us a bit about yourself; where are you from, where did you grow up? Where do you live now and how long have you been with the Cleveland Clinic?

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona but spent my childhood in Fairfax, Virginia until my second year of high school. In the late 1970s, my family moved to Dallas, Texas, where I finished high school. I completed my undergraduate education at Texas A&M University and then went to the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. I did my surgical residency training at the University of Texas at San Antonio and later my fellowship in advanced laparoscopic surgery at Duke University,  in Durham, North Carolina. In 1995, I started my career at the University of Pittsburgh and stayed there for 10 years prior to joining Cleveland Clinic.

You have held several high profile clinical  posts, focusing on surgery for severe obesity and minimally invasive surgery. How did your original interest in obesity surgery develop?

After completing my fellowship in advanced laparoscopic surgical training at Duke, I became interested in the use of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for bariatric patients. I realised the benefits of MIS to those patients – a less invasive operation with reduced morbidity and mortality. At that time, I also noticed how surgical weight-loss operations improve the quality of life of patients suffering from obesity and associated core morbidities, like diabetes.

After discovering that gastric bypass surgery quickly and dramatically improves diabetes, I became interested in developing a randomised clinical trial, now known as STAMPEDE, to directly compare surgery to medical treatment. The study has elucidated many important aspects of metabolic surgery, which has led to a much greater understanding of the pathophysiology of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Our readers would enjoy learning about your favourite activities, hobbies, and interests outside of your professional work.

I enjoy spending time and traveling with family. I am fond of outdoor activities such as running, swimming, biking, and hiking.

Your reputation for innovation in obesity surgery is world renowned. Can you tell us briefly about the latest concepts in surgery education and  training you are involved in?

I use modern technological advances to conduct telemedicine-based conferences. Thanks to the internet, physicians and scientists around the world can share ideas from their home or office.

Opportunities to develop new procedures and medications to treat obesity have never been greater. I am optimistic about the future and our ability to prevent and treat obesity as well as associated co- morbidities in the years to come. Obesity is a disease that has risen to a high level of importance, and countries around the world need to pay attention.