Allan Goldstein, MD
Lessons from the Neural Crest: How to Succeed in Academic Surgery
The 2023 SUS Joel J. Roslyn Lecture featured a fascinating talk by Dr. Allan Goldstein, a Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Pediatric Surgery, and Surgeon-in-Chief at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. The lecture, titled “Lessons from the Neural Crest: How to Succeed in Academic Surgery,” drew parallels between the maturation of multipotent stem cells from the neural crest and the numerous steps necessary to achieve success in academic surgery.
Dr. Goldstein, who directs a NIH-funded basic science laboratory group at the Massachusetts General Hospital, emphasized the importance of choosing the right environment to start a faculty position and surrounding oneself with a team of individuals and mentors who will support one’s maturation into an independent surgeon scientist. He likened this multifaceted maturation process to the biologic mechanism in which neural crest-derived stem cells migrate to the enteric nervous system. The complex biologic reciprocal interactions between these stem cells and their microenvironment, including extracellular matrix, are crucial in achieving proper cellular survival and differentiation. Similarly, the wrong environment and/or mentors in academic surgery may lead to self-destruction and derailment from one’s goals.
Dr. Goldstein concluded his lecture by emphasizing three key points to succeed in academic surgery: 1) choose the right environment, 2) surround oneself with people who want you to succeed, and 3) supplement one’s environment with the necessary resources to achieve success. The lecture was a thought-provoking reminder of the importance of selecting the right mentors and environment to achieve success in academic surgery.