UChicago Medicine names new chief of pediatric surgery

UChicago Medicine names new chief of pediatric surgery

July 1, 2013

Jessica Kandel, MD, has been named professor of surgery, section chief of pediatric surgery and surgeon-in-chief at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, effective Aug. 1, 2013.

A surgeon, educator and researcher, Kandel comes to UChicago Medicine from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York where she served as the R. Peter Altman Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics in the Institute for Cancer Genetics and co-director of its Pediatric Tumor Biology Laboratory. She was interim chief of the Pediatric Surgery Division and an attending surgeon at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, as well as a member of the surgical staffs at Columbia University Medical Center, the Komansky Center for Children's Health at Weill Cornell Medical Center and New York Hospital Queens.

"We're pleased to welcome such an accomplished surgeon and prolific investigator to head our pediatric surgery team," said Jeffrey B. Matthews, professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery. "Jessica is a highly capable leader who brings an extraordinary combination of clinical skill and scientific drive. She will be a tremendous asset to the University of Chicago Medicine as we continue to build on our established reputation in surgery and cancer care."

An internationally recognized authority in the surgical treatment of childhood cancers, Kandel's vast clinical expertise includes the development of groundbreaking treatments for vascular anomalies in children. As an active researcher, much of her work is focused on regulation of angiogenesis in pediatric solid tumors, including Wilms' tumor, neuroblastoma, and hepatoblastoma.

Kandel and colleagues at the Pediatric Tumor Biology Laboratory were the first to describe how experimental pediatric tumor growth could be suppressed by blocking a molecule called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) from performing its natural job. The research provided key preclinical data about an antibody to VEGF, which is the basis of a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004, for adults with colorectal cancer. It now is widely used in the treatment of lung, breast, and certain brain and pediatric cancers.

"I'm honored to lead a team of surgeons who are among the best in the world," Kandel said. "I've always had a great deal of respect for the superior clinical work and cutting-edge approach to research at the University of Chicago. I'm excited about the opportunity to help advance the renowned programs here and to continue to push the boundaries of what's possible for the benefit of children yet to come.

Kandel graduated from Yale University in 1981 and earned her MD from Columbia University in 1985. She then completed a general surgery residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and a surgical research fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital in 1991. She went on to complete a fellowship in pediatric surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in 1995.

Later that year, Kandel joined Columbia University and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming director of the Charles Edison Laboratory for Pediatric Surgical Research in 2000, and earning several academic appointments before becoming a professor of surgery and pediatrics in the Institute for Cancer Genetics in 2009.

Kandel pioneered many well-regarded collaborations during her Columbia tenure. In 2001, she co-organized Columbia University's first Arden House symposium on angiogenesis. She also was a founding member of the university's Vascular Anomalies Group, a multidisciplinary team treating children with vascular malformations, hemangioma, lymphatic tumors, and other disorders of vessel development.

Kandel is currently a surgical principal investigator for the national Children's Oncology Group and serves on its renal tumors committee. She is a permanent member of the National Cancer Institute Subcommittee I, which reviews training grants for physician-scientists in the field of cancer biology.

Kandel has held membership in numerous professional societies including: the American Surgical Association, American Board of Surgery (Pediatric Board), American College of Surgeons (fellow), American Pediatric Surgical Association (fellow), American Academy of Pediatrics (past chair of the publications committee, Section on Surgery), International Society of Paediatric Surgical Oncology, Society of Surgical Oncology, Society of University Surgeons, National Wilms Tumor Study and the New York Academy of Sciences.

She has published more than 60 research studies along with a number of book chapters. A sought-after speaker, she has lectured at meetings across the globe. She is also a devoted medical educator, sharing her commitment to clinical excellence and philosophy that modern pediatric care should be practiced collaboratively.