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CAPT(R) Eric Elster MD: USUHS Dean & Navy Transplant Surgeon Optimizing Future Combat Casualty Care

Dr. Eric Elster is the Dean of the School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD.


In this episode, you will hear about Dr. Elster’s Journey to becoming a combat-tested General Surgeon who later specialized by completing a transplant surgery fellowship. Dr. Elster has deployed multiple times to combat zones and he shares some stories from his experiences caring for severely injured service members and other patients often in austere locations or at Sea, far from comprehensive medical support assets. He describes some important lessons he’s learned that are extremely valuable to the next generation of healthcare professionals.


CAPT(R) Elster covers the importance of translational research in answering important questions about diagnostic and therapies for traumatic injuries and describes his innovative approach to how Military Medicine can quantify and measure battlefield readiness and how to improve it. Dr. Elster also talks about the critical role USUHS plays as America’s Medical School and some of the exciting initiatives and opportunities he is developing as Dean.


CAPT(R) Eric Elster, MD received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of South Florida in Tampa as a recipient of the U.S. Navy’s Health Professional Scholarship Program. Upon graduation, he completed a general surgery residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Elster served as ship’s surgeon aboard the USS Kitty Hawk during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Upon returning from the Persian Gulf, he completed a solid organ transplantation fellowship at the National Institutes of Health; and then directed a translational research program at the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, MD, with a focus on developing improved diagnostics and therapies for serious traumatic injuries, transplantation, and advanced operative imaging.

Before his retirement from active service, Dr. Elster was last deployed as a surgeon and Director of Surgical Services at the NATO Role 3 Military Medical Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons; and a member of the Society of University Surgeons, the Excelsior Surgical Society, and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons. Dr. Elster has published over 150 scientific manuscripts in leading journals including JAMA, Annals of Surgery, American Journal of Transplantation, and Science Translational Medicine, and has received numerous research grants spanning all aspects of surgery.


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