Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship

MD Anderson's Department of Surgical Oncology offers a fellowship in Complex General Surgical Oncology. Fellows are exposed to a large volume of complex surgical problems and are involved in the initial evaluation of new patients, treatment planning including multidisciplinary approaches, design of the surgical approach, and postoperative and long-term follow-up care.

This clinical experience, combined with numerous opportunities for research, provides graduates with a rich experience that prepares them to enter academic careers, establish successful surgical oncology programs at university centers, and develop productive research and training programs. Graduates will be well poised to take on future leadership roles in surgery. More than 85% of our graduates assume a full-time appointment in academic surgery.

Program Tracks

MD Anderson offers seven new positions annually in our Complex General Surgical Oncology (CGSO) Fellowship program accredited by the ACGME in two tracks. Both tracks are designed to refine surgical skills and clinical judgment involving complex cancer operations as well as those intellectual skills encompassing all aspects of cancer management (including radiation biology, pharmacology, cancer pathology, clinical immunology and tumor biology).

Track 1: Complex General Surgical Oncology Fellowship

There are five positions annually for the 2-year CGSO fellowship program in Track 1. The program enables fellows to acquire an advanced body of knowledge and skill level in the surgical and multidisciplinary management of malignant diseases.

Fellows in the basic two year clinical curriculum spend 17 months on general surgical oncology services (melanoma, sarcoma, breast, endocrine, colorectal, hepatobiliary, pancreas, gastric/HIPEC) and one month each in medical oncology, radiation oncology and pathology. The remaining four months are dedicated to learning research principles such as biostatistics, design of clinical trials, data collection and management, and protocol writing (including clinical trials conducted during the two year fellowship). The second year curriculum allows for specialization of training tailored to match the individual fellow’s goals.

Track 2: Combined Complex General Surgical Oncology/Research Fellowship

There are two positions annually for the Track 2 combined fellowship program. This program includes the 2-year CGSO fellowship with an additional year of laboratory, translational or health services/outcomes research funded by a NIH T32 grant for the training of academic surgical oncologists.

This 3-year program allows fellows who have not had a significant research experience as part of their general surgical residency to spend an additional 12 months training.

This program is also especially helpful for fellows who have already had significant basic/translational research experience who desire to spend additional research time to acquire new skills, expertise and preliminary data to excel as an independently funded surgeon-scientist.

Fellows can select a research environment from numerous opportunities in the Department of Surgical Oncology, the various Basic/Translational Research Programs throughout MD Anderson, or in the Department of Health Services Research. The research track has an additional goal of preparing individuals for a productive career in academic surgery by providing a teaching program in biostatistics, principles of clinical research, molecular biology, genomics, tumor immunology, grantsmanship and the writing of scientific manuscripts. The goal of the combined fellowship is to train individuals who can establish a successful surgical oncology program in a university medical center, develop a productive research and teaching program involving oncology, and compete successfully for research grants.

Fellows in both tracks are expected to conduct research projects that result in at least one finished manuscript ready for publication prior to the completion of their fellowship. These may range from a short-term clinical research project to a more sophisticated clinical investigation or laboratory science project.

Educational Objectives

  • Learn how to manage patients with difficult, rare or complex cancer presentations, including their clinical evaluation, surgical management, and adjuvant therapy wherever appropriate
  • Be able to perform complex and technically challenging operations involved in cancer treatment (e.g. limb perfusion, hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), pelvic exenteration, etc.)
  • Be able to plan appropriate treatment for these difficult cases based upon the knowledge of the natural history of the disease, proper staging, and integration of multidisciplinary care
  • Train highly skilled academic surgical oncologists who will take their clinical and research training to an academic residency program and translate those skills into teaching surgical residents

Educational Conference and Courses

Fellows will attend weekly conferences including:

  • Mortality and morbidity conference
  • Basic and clinical research conferences
  • Surgical and institutional grand rounds
  • Multidisciplinary planning conferences (breast, sarcoma, HPB, melanoma, endocrine, colorectal)

Additionally, there is a weekly meeting for the fellows to cover advanced topics in the multidisciplinary and surgical management of patients with malignant disease

All fellows attend annual series of required core oncology lectures that includes research and clinical ethics, biostatistics, design of clinical trials, cancer immunology and cancer genetics and molecular biology

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants for the CGSO fellowship must meet the following educational qualifications:

  • Successful completion of an ACGME-accredited general surgery residency program in the U.S. or Canada
  • Graduates of medical schools outside the United States and Canada must have a valid certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)
  • At the time of entry into the fellowship program all applicants will be board eligible or board certified general surgeons under the auspices of the American Board of Surgery
  • Applicants must have passed each step of the USMLE by the third attempt

Eligibility for the research fellowship track are the same as for the CGSO fellowship but applicants must also be US citizens or permanent residents in order to qualify for the NIH research grant funding for this fellowship program.

How to Apply

Applications for fellowship positions will be made through ERAS. Completed applications will be reviewed and candidates will be selected for interviews and notified in early September. The following documents should also be included with the application:

  • A current curriculum vitae
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Medical school transcripts
  • USMLE scores
  • Recent photograph

MD Anderson will participate in the national match program for Complex General Surgical Oncology administered by the National Resident Matching Program.

Surgical Oncology Faculty

Contact Us

For questions about our program, contact:

Elizabeth G. Grubbs, M.D.
Program Director
Department of Surgical Oncology, Unit 1484
P.O. Box 301402
Houston, TX 77230

Phone: 713-792-0665


Susan Hogue
Manager of Surgery Education Programs
Department of Surgical Oncology, Unit 1484
P.O. Box 301402
Houston, TX 77230

Phone: 713-794-1552
Fax: 713-745-5235

For inquiries about the Track 2 research year, contact:

Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D.
T-32 Research Fellowship Director
Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics
1400 Holcombe Blvd., Unit 455
Houston, TX 77030

Phone: 713-794-1226