You do a lot of surgeries — Do you primarily describe yourself as a surgeon?
I would say I'm connected to patients in many ways, one of which is being a surgeon. I really try to do the right thing at the right time for the right patient. Most of the time, that's being a surgeon.
Did you always see yourself becoming a surgeon or doctor?
No, I never saw myself as a surgeon initially — I was not one of those kids with a slide rule in my pocket. I was actually an English major, but over time I gravitated towards medicine. It resonated with me.
Why did you choose UCSF?
I saw early on that it was a place of boundless opportunity. I really wanted to be here and to help build a world-class urology department.
Describe the culture at UCSF.
It's about always being focused on the end game — never stopping and never slowing down, seeing challenges rather than obstacles, getting things done.
Without question, this is very creative and innovative environment. We come to work each day thinking how we're going to do things differently, do them better. People are focused on making a lasting impact in the world. It's a hive of brilliance.
You helped pioneer a new protocol for prostate cancer, called active surveillance. How did that come about?
The mindset was, when you diagnose prostate cancer, you need to treat it aggressively with surgery or radiation and you need to do it right away. But then we found out that not all men need to be treated right away. If their cancers are small and slow-growing, we can watch them very carefully and treat them only if their tumors become larger or more aggressive. We've found that their outcomes are the same as if we treated them right away.