R2D2 in the OR: 9AM – 10AM


Shapiro Breakout Room | 9AM – 10AM

Although surgical robots may not be quite as sophisticated as R2D2, they are revolutionizing the way that certain surgeries are performed. Since receiving FDA approval, robotic surgery has been widely adopted within US hospitals and met with great enthusiasm. The use of robotics in surgical procedures allows for surgeries to be less invasive and even enables surgeries to be performed remotely. However, critics argue that there is a steep learning curve for surgeons using robotics and that these surgeries drive up costs without necessarily improving patient outcomes. This session will focus on the impact that robotics have had on surgery and current evidence on the efficacy and cost effectiveness of robotic vs. traditional surgery.


How robotics are changing the way surgery is performed

Mike Zinner, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief, and Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Michael J. Zinner is the Moseley Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, the Surgeon-in-Chief at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and the Clinical Director of the Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.  In 2004, he established the Center for Surgery and Public Health, a collaboration between the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, focused on healthcare, quality, safety and effectiveness and global surgical care.  Dr. Zinner’s clinical focus centers on diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.  He enjoys his practice and interactions with residents and students, and has received teaching awards for both.


Balancing the financial and bioethical challenges of robotic surgery

Antonio Gargiulo, MD, Medical Director, BWH Center for Robotic Surgery

Dr. Gargiulo is an ABMS-Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and a member of BWH’s  Center for Infertility and Reproductive Surgery. Dr. Gargiulo has been a full-time faculty at Harvard Medical School since 1996, where he currently is an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. He is an internationally recognized pioneer in computer-assisted reproductive surgery and the current Chair of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists’s Robotics SIG. He serves as the Medical Director of the Center for Robotic Surgery of Brigham and Women’s Health Care.


Is robotic surgery worth the cost?

Steven Chang, MD, MS, Instructor, Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School

The overarching aim of Dr. Chang’s research is to decrease the burden of urologic cancers on the health care system.  He utilizes advanced statistical, econometric, and mathematical modeling techniques to critically evaluate the current delivery of health care on a population-based level in order to identify strategies to improve the the care of patients with cancers of the urinary tract.  Dr. Chang’s efforts have led to an improved understanding of the complex interactions between clinical and socioeconomic factors that impact the management of disease.

Panel Discussion + Q & A

This session will conclude with a panel discussion featuring all presenters that is moderated by Jerry Avorn and Joel Weissman, as well as the opportunity for audience members to ask questions.

Session Co-Chairs

Jerome Avorn, MD, Chief, Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Avorn_Jerry-email (0941) copyJerry Avorn, MD, is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His research focuses on the benefits, risks, and costs of medications, the determinants of how doctors and patients use prescriptions drugs, and strategies to improve such use. Dr. Avorn is the author or co-author of over 450 papers in the medical literature on these topics. He is also the author of “Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs,” now in its 11th printing.




Weissman2013- HMS quada croppedJoel Weissman, PhD, Deputy Director/Chief Scientific Officer, Center for Surgery and Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Joel Weissman is Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the Center for Surgery and Public Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Associate Professor of Health Policy at Harvard Medical School.  He has published over 125 peer-reviewed articles in the areas of quality and patient safety, the care of vulnerable populations, payment policy, comparative effectiveness research policy, and surgical health services research.  During 2008-2010 Dr. Weissman served as Senior Health Policy Advisor to the Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, where he led the planning effort for a multi-million dollar statewide all-payer medical home pilot.