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Recent Graduates

It’s that time of year again – time when we bid farewell to our amazing graduating class of residents. We’re proud to send the group of 2018 surgeon-scientists out into the world to do good things. See who they are, and where they’re headed, below. You can also click to read interviews with a selection of 2018 graduates, who share where they’re headed, what motivates them, and—since this is San Diego—their favorite taco shop.

Graduate Interviews: Simone Langness | Patrick McCarty | Abid Mogannam | Billy Moss | Thach Pham | Chris Reid | Hitomi Sakano

Cardiothoracic Fellowship


Jakub Wilhelm
Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Kansas

Craniofacial Fellowship


Asra Hashmi
Loma Linda University, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

General Surgery Residency


Ryan Broderick
UC San Diego, Clinical Fellowship in Minimally Invasive Surgery


Simone Langness
UC San Francisco, Critical Care and Trauma Fellowship


Patrick McCarty
University of Southern California, Fellowship in Advanced GI and Minimally Invasive Surgery


Vijay Menon
Massachusetts general Hospital, Boston, Transplant Fellowship


Michael Levine
UC San Diego, Fellowship in Vascular Surgery

Otolaryngology Residency


Avram Hecht


William Moss
Saipan Regional Medical Center

Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowship


Thach Pham
Returning to the American Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany as faculty


Dave Bernstein 

Neurotology Fellowship


Hitomi Sakano
University of Rochester in New York, Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology

Pediatric Surgery Fellowship


Bhargava Mullapudi
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Pediatric Otolaryngology Fellowship


Ronak Rahmanian
Assistant Professor of Surgery, Pediatric Otolaryngology, at UC San Diego

Plastic Surgery Residency


Chris Reid 
Microsurgery Fellowship, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, UCLA

Trauma, Surgical Critical Care, Burns and Acute Care Surgery Fellows


John Woods


Brandon Woodward 


Kuong Ngann

Vascular and Endovascular Surgery Fellowship


Abid Mogannam
Private practice in San Jose in Northern California

Graduate Interviews

Chris Reid, MD graduated from the Plastic Surgery Residency program at UC San Diego in 2018.

Where are you headed?
I will begin a Microsurgery Fellowship at UCLA's Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery this summer. My interest in microsurgery was birthed early in my plastic surgery residency when I saw my first microsurgical cases. They were amazing—super challenging, super remarkable endeavors. UCLA's fellowship was an all-around perfect fit for me.

Best thing about your time at UC San Diego?
The culture, the outlook, and that stereotypical "San Diego" atmosphere. People here are very accomplished and very driven, but they aren't pretentious about it. There's a sense that we all put our pants on the same way in the morning.

Anything that can be improved?
One limitation is the workforce—many are being asked to do a little bit more but with a little bit less, which can be good to an extent, as a way to encourage people to challenge themselves, but I don't think we've struck the right balance yet.

How do you want to make a mark in your career?
My trajectory from very early on has been to remain in academic surgery—I have a proclivity for educating and I want to continue with scientific inquiry. I'd also like to be a part of building programs and increasing the stature of our health system. I like to look at big systems and think about how we can do things better or more efficiently.

What motivates you as a surgeon?
I've always wanted to do something important. When I was young I didn't know what I wanted to do. I went to community college and then to San Diego State where I studied conservation biology. I thought I was going to be a zoologist, but it didn't quite fit. I was driven and entrepreneurial and I started my own business making t-shirts, and it was very successful. The business just grew and grew. But I would come home at the end of the day and all I had really done was added 2,000 t-shirts to the world and more money to my bank account. It wasn't particularly fulfilling. I wanted to do something great.

Best taco in San Diego?
Porkyland in La Jolla.

Mogannam Abid Mogannam, MD graduated from UC San Diego's Vascular and Endovascular Surgery fellowship program in 2018.

Tell me about yourself.
I'm from Northern California. I trained at LomaLinda Medical Center for general surgery, and then came down the road to train at UCSD for fellowship in vascular surgery.

Best thing about your time at UC San Diego?
We are trained across a variety of clinical systems—we get experience in private practice and in the academic environment—and we get to see a wide variety of techniques and each institution we train at. At Scripps Green, UCSD, the VA, Kaiser—all of these groups have different biases in the way they treat patients. For example, for both abdominal aortic obstructed pathology as well as lower extremity obstructed pathology, at Kaiser they tend to favor open reconstruction, whereas at UCSD we will typically take an endo-first approach. Being able to see both is good. You're able to assimilate those techniques and ideas and choose for yourself what you think is the best way to treat your patient.

Also, UCSD and the VA in particular, is really a research power house. There are a lot of clinical trials and you're able to be involved in that as a fellow, which encourages a sense of forward thinking and innovation. It's a huge benefit.

Where are you headed?
I'm headed to private practice in San Jose in Northern California.

What are your hopes for the long term?
I did a masters degree in business administration. I've always been interested in the drivers of healthcare costs and efficiency. My goal and interest is to find a better way to provide high-quality care in an efficient manner for patients and essentially build a successful practice. Down the road, the opportunity to document that and publish our results is something I'd be interested in.

Talk to me about what motivates you—why are you in medicine?
When I decided to take a path towards medical school I had trained as an emergency medical technician, and at the same time became pretty involved in the biochemistry lab where I went to college at Santa Clara University. My interest in both areas—providing clinical care and the scientific aspirations—were equal in my mind, and I thought, what better way to combine those two than to become a physician. I had no idea what type of physician I wanted to be at the time, so as I carried along I thought of many different paths. Vascular surgery is a unique specialty in that we are essentially cardiovascular medicine doctors and surgeons—so we give patients medical treatment and surgical or interventional care. The complexity of vascular patients, and vascular medicine—caring for the whole patient—those are the things that drive me now.

Best taco in San Diego?
The Taco Stand on Pearl Street in La Jolla. They have an excellent California burrito.

Thach Pham, MD Thach Pham, MD is graduating from the MIS fellowship program.

Tell me about yourself.
I grew up in Boston, and joined the Army in 2002, on a HPSP scholarship, which paid for medical school. My first duty assignment was in Germany and then I was on special teams and deployed a lot—Afghanistan, Iraq, throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, Korea. There was a lot of combat-related injuries with special teams. I was basically a trauma surgeon. I got interested in Minimally Invasive Surgery because the specialty is really at the forefront of technology and innovation. At the SAGES meeting in Seattle this year it was all new gadgets and gizmos.

What was the best thing about your time at UCSD?
The best thing about this program is all the research that's going on. It's a referral center so there are a lot of sub-specialties, so you never feel like you're by yourself. I operated in the middle of the desert in a tent where I was the only doctor, so I appreciate the incredible amount of resources that are available here. The camaraderie is very good as well. The nursing staff are tremendous, and the facilities are amazing.

Where are you headed?
I'm headed back to the American Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, where I already spent several years as faculty. It's the biggest American hospital outside the United States; it covers about 50,000 Americans in the immediate area but also serves as the tertiary center for EUCOM, CENTCOM and AFRICOM. I'll be doing trauma, MIS and robotics.

How has your motivation evolved over the course of your career and training?
My motive starting out freshman year in college was the nobility of the profession—helping those who can't help themselves. That's pretty much the mission of the military too. To fight for a cause. That motivation is still there, I'm still advocating for patients, but it's definitely more mature now. Before, I would work 100 hours a week. Now I'm in my early 40s and trying to work out that life-work balance thing. I'm more focused on my family now.

What mark do you hope to make in this field over the long term?
I want to provide the best surgical care I can and train the younger generation of surgeons. One thing they taught me in the military is that it's all about teamwork. Surgery is a team effort, and I emphasize that with residents who rotate through on the service. It's not about one single person. It's a team that takes care of a patient, from the nursing staff to the midlevel to the resident to the fellow and the attendings. I think a lot of the time in the surgical world it can be ego driven, and instead I'd like to pass down that spirit of teamwork and humility to the younger resident physicians.

Best taco in San Diego?
The fish taco at Poseidon on the Beach in Del Mar.

Hitomi Sakano Hitomi Sakano is graduating from the Neurotology Fellowship program.

Tell me about yourself.
I grew up in the Bay Area, and went to UC Berkley for undergrad. I didn't go to medical school straight out of college; I wasn't sure if I wanted to do research or medicine. So I took a couple years off and worked on the first plant genome sequencing project at Berkeley, back when whole genome sequencing of mice, human and plants became possible. I realized that I really liked research, but I still wanted to do something with people and medicine.

I did my MD-PhD in Seattle at the University of Washington. During rotations I found that I liked head and neck surgery because of the complexity of the anatomy and the fact that there's a lot of potential for research. All of our sensory systems are housed within the head and neck, and consequently there's a huge impact on the quality of life with the surgeries that we do.

Why did you end up at UCSD and what did you like most about your time here?
I liked otology and skull base surgery. I came to UCSD because I knew that they had a very strong, high-volume surgical training program.

The best thing about the program is the people. Dr. Harris, the chief of the division, is well known for auto-immune ear disease, so working with him in the clinic and diagnosing and treating ear diseases has been really great. Dr. Friedman is one of the busiest skull base surgeons in the nation and it's been wonderful to learn how he operates so efficiently and effectively. Dr. Nguyen is another faculty here who specializes in facial re-animation and facial nerve research, and operating with her was really cool. Patients who come to our clinic who have facial nerve paralysis from surgery, tumors or Bell's palsy, can undergo either static or dynamic reanimation. This wasn't necessarily a part of neurotology fellowship training—but it's incredible and a great bonus to get to work on this with Dr. Nguyen.

And then at Kaiser, Dr. Cueva is an excellent, amazing teacher. He will break down every single part of an operation, even how you hold the instruments. In just the few weeks of working with him, my surgical skills improved more than they had in a few months or years in residency.

I also think one of the unique things about training at UCSD is your exposure to the close relationships between the neurotologists and neurosurgeons. Dr. Cueva and Dr. Mastrodimos are a team at Kaiser and Dr. Friedman and Dr. Schwartz at UCSD are a team, and I think that's really important. We take it for granted because they work so well together, but that kind of partnership is not necessarily a given everywhere. When you have a really good relationship like the two pairs of surgeons, surgery goes well, there's a good flow to the operation, there's a good flow to the care of the patient, patients feel reassured.

Where are you headed?
I'm going to the University of Rochester in New York where I'll serve as an assistant professor in the department of Otolaryngology. There are very few job opportunities where I can continue to do research while being clinically busy—this is one of those rare opportunities.

What are your hopes for the long term?
First of all, I want to be a good surgeon. I want to make a big impact on patients in terms of their quality of life. With ear surgery, restoring someone's hearing can dramatically impact on patients' quality of life. We know that patients who have a lack of hearing tend to withdraw from society, they can get depressed, it can speed up dementia. In that sense I hope to improve patients' lives. I also like teaching, and would like to continue to do that. And I'm still interested in research. When I was a resident, we worked on an area of the auditory brainstem looking at how neural activity or sensory input affects the connections and survival of neurons. I'd like to continue working on that. I think it will help us understand how our brains are wired and how we can potentially maintain connections of neurons when we've lost hearing so that when we restore the hearing, we can restore the hearing to its full potential.

How have your motivations changed in since you were first starting out in medicine—or have they?
You never know exactly what you're going to do when you're in undergrad or medical school. But at every point along the way, I was having a lot of fun. It was enjoyable. I like doing research, I like taking care of patients, and I like operating. Spending long hours in the operating room was and is enjoyable for me. The satisfaction I get when patients do well is really motivating for me to work long hours. The only difference now from when I was starting out, is that now I think a lot about how I can contribute to the field. What new things can I come up with? What can I bring to the field?

Best taco in San Diego?
I really liked the fish tacos at Blue Water Seafood Market and Grill, near Old Town.

Simone Langness Simone Langness is graduating from General Surgery Residency.

Did you always know you wanted to go into medicine?
I grew up in a really small town on the Arizona and Utah border. Nobody in my family was a doctor. I initially thought that I was going to be a journalist and travel around the world and write stories. I went to college and majored in journalism but I didn't enjoy it like I thought it would. I was a little bit lost, not knowing what to do. And then I got this great opportunity to be a white-water rafting guide on the Colorado River as a summer job and they paid me to get my EMT license. That got me thinking about medicine.

In medical school, I initially though I would be a primary care doctor. But I really enjoyed surgery. I liked the immediacy of it, and how fast paced it was, and how broad the topics were. Mostly, I really enjoyed the people—the culture fit me.

What is the culture of surgery?
The personality of a surgeon is one who does not allow fear to stop them from acting. They are willing to put themselves in an uncomfortable position and face the fear instead of being crippled by it. I am constantly amazed by their commitment and wiliness to give so much of themselves to make others better.

What are some of the best aspects of training at UCSD?
I was looking for a program that had a lot of diversity and a track record of getting people to the fellowships they were interested in. The best aspect about the last 7 years of my life has been the people. The colleagues who have come into my life have been incredible. They've helped me grow, not only in skill but also in confidence and in making me a better version of myself. They have supported me professionally and personally. It's a really special group of trainees and faculty here.

So, where you headed?
I'm going to UCSF for a critical care and trauma fellowship. I have always gravitated to really sick patients. There are so few times in our lives when we stop and reflect on what's really important. Failing health and injury is often one of those times. The more intense that moment, the quicker you get there and being part of that journey with another family or with your patient is a gift. I don't pretend to know what the answers are but to be on the journey with them is really special and is part of why I was drawn to critical care.

What are your goals for the long term?
It's still a work in progress. I want to stay in academics. I want to have some percentage of my life be in the clinical arena, but I want to make a major contribution that's outside of my clinical skills. I'm really excited to figure what that other part of my life is going to be.

How have your motivations, your drive to be in medicine, changed since you were first starting out? Has it changed, or matured?
My guiding principles are the same, which is wanting to connect with people in their moment of crisis and to help get my patients back to those things that are most meaningful to them. I think as you get further down the path as a surgeon, the motivation evolves from being a little vague, to realizing how much detail is involved in helping people. You realize the skills you need to master to be able to do that, so your drive becomes more focused.

The thing that has changed with me the most throughout this process is—when you are just starting out, you're 1000% committed, and you will give up anything to take care of your patients. You want to be that person who pours every ounce of yourself into taking care of someone. What I've realized after many years is that I have to also invest time in taking care of myself. Sometimes you have to set boundaries and take some steps back to sleep or spend time with your family or just be away from surgery. I had to learn that to do those things, is not an entitlement issue, it's actually my only way to give the most of me to my patients.

Favorite taco shop in San Diego?
Mine is the TKO taco at the Fish Shop in PB. It's delicious.

Patrick McCarty Patrick McCarty is graduating from General Surgery Residency.

Where were you before UC San Diego?
I was born in Seattle, Washington, raised in the greater Seattle area my whole life. By the time I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I really liked science, and I like the idea of helping people.

I went to college at the University of Washington, and since I already knew I was headed to medical school, I decided to try something different in undergrad. I studied art history—primitive and African art, Renaissance architecture. In medical school, I decided on general surgery. I really liked the anatomy lab and the idea of fixing a problem rather than just managing medical problems.

What was the best thing about training at UC San Diego?
One of the biggest things is the flexibility. A lot of people do research, whether here or at other institutions. I knew that I would have that opportunity if I wanted to. And I've seen with some of my other peers, when they've gotten a last-minute offer for a research opportunity the program goes out of its way to make sure it can happen. They're also very flexible with understanding that we are not just surgical residents—we have a life outside our work.

Where are you headed?
I'm going to USC to do a fellowship in advanced GI and minimally invasive surgery. Seeing some of the amazing and revolutionary things that minimally invasive surgeons do here is inspiring. Making small incisions and minimizing pain but also solving complex surgical cases with new tools—and doing it in a way that helps people get better faster. That's the future of surgery and I want to be a part of it.

How do you want to make your mark in this field over the long term?
There's always a parallel course of your professional and personal lives and balance is really key. I know I want to do bariatric surgery, weight loss surgery, and complex foregut and minimally invasive surgery. I don't know exactly what setting that's going to be in yet, whether in academics or private practice. I think both have really big benefits.

How have you changed since you first started out in medicine? How have you matured as a surgeon?
I've matured in terms of being more respectful of how fragile life is—because you see people get sick really quickly and you see terrible situations where people die. So you learn to cherish the moments that you have away from the hospital.

The other thing that hasn't necessarily changed but has been reinforced in medical school is: when you operate on somebody they become your patient for life. When someone gives you that profound privilege to make an incision on them and operate, you, in a sense, know that person better than anybody in the world. Yes you go in and fix a problem but then you have this amazing continuity of being somebody's surgeon for as long as they will have you.

Favorite taco in San Diego?
Patrick: I would say it's a tie between Taco Surf and Oscar's in Pacific Beach.

Billy Moss, MD Billy Moss, MD, is graduating from Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery residency

Tell me about yourself?
I was born in Australia, and grew up in various places, mostly New York and the Boston area. I started college at Boston college in Newton, Massachusetts, and transferred to Harvard halfway through and ended up graduating from there. I went to med school at UC San Francisco and matched in a Head and Neck surgery program in Tampa, Florida at the University of South Florida. At the end of my intern year, I ended swapping positions with a guy who matched into this program [at UCSD] and that’s how I ended up here.

Where are you headed after graduation?
I’ll be spending the first six months after residency in Saipan, a U.S. territory near Guam. They have one big regional medical center for the community that’s funded by the U.S. government, which hasn’t had ENT coverage in years.

What did you enjoy most about your time at UCSD?
I was attracted to it because it’s a well-rounded program—in my field we have at least one, oftentimes multiple, representatives of every given sub-specialty within our field. There’s lots of research going on, and it’s a big, bustling academic center, which is the kind of environment I wanted to train in. And my co-residents have been great from start to finish. We’re a small, really good group. I’m really grateful for the co-residents I’ve had.

Where do you ultimately want to end up?
I’d like to stay in academics long-term, potentially in an emerging country. As time goes on in your training you realize that—although you’re doing things in a way that you think is the “right” way, it’s not necessarily the right way; it’s one of many ways that you can do things. And I think you can learn a lot from different perspectives and settings. At UCSD, we always have foreign residents and doctors coming over to hang out with our attendings. But I very rarely hear of people from the States who want to look abroad and see how things are done in other places.

Talk to me about what motivates you—why are you in medicine?
It’s science, it’s challenging stuff, and it’s rewarding—you get to help people. Surgery especially is a challenging, interesting way to spend your days. It’s definitely not an average job that you’re going to get bored of.

Best taco in San Diego?
Marilleanos on university toward city heights. Amazing carnitas.