Meet Our Urologists

2017 Departmental Highlights

Alon Weizer, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Urology and Associate Chair of Surgical Services, University of Michigan, gave a presentation at Urology Grand Rounds on Friday, December 8, 2017 in the Weiler Auditorium, Einstein Campus. Dr. Weizer’s clinical and research interest is focused on prevention and early detection of bladder cancer, novel treatments for early bladder cancer and the use of minimally invasive approaches to treat bladder, prostate, kidney, testicular and genitourinary malignancies.

Dr. Weizer presented “And Now for Something Completely Different…Thinking Outside the Box in the Treatment of Bladder Cancer.”


The Urology Department and its collaborators received a number of awards at the Annual Fall Meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA), including Best Essay and Best Abstracts.

The $1,500 SMSNA Best Essay prize and $1000 Best Abstract prize was awarded to Andrew Draganski, PhD a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Joel Friedman MD., PhD., (Physiology and Biophysics,) who collaborates with Kelvin Davies, PhD (Urology) and members of his lab (Guillermo Villegas Ph.D. and Moses Tar, MD). The work focused on the potential of ant-inflammatory nanoparticles to treat erectile dysfunction associated with diabetes.

Lisa Baker, graduate student in the lab of David Sharp, PhD ((Physiology and Biophysics,) was also awarded a $1,000 Best Abstract prize for collaborative work on promoting nerve regeneration and improving erectile dysfunction after a cavernous nerve injury.

Andrew Draganski, PhD, Guillermo Villegas, PhD, and Lisa Baker each won a $1,000 travel award to this year's conference.


At the American Society of Reproductive Medicine 2017 Scientific Congress, the Urology Department and its collaborators were awarded a $1,000 Best Abstract prize.

Rani Fritz, MD, (Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Fellow, OBGYN), Lloyd Fricker, PhD (Molecular Pharmacology) and Kelvin Davies, PhD (Urology) collaborated on the award-winning abstract, which discussed the discovery and evaluation of a novel peptide and its relation to sperm motility. The research was part of a collaboration between the Urology, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, OBGYN and Molecular Pharmacology Departments.


On Saturday, November 4, 2017, Montefiore's Evan Kovac, MD, Urology, participated in the March & Health Fair Against Prostate Cancer.

The event, which was sponsored by NYS Senator Marisol Alcántara, focused on raising awareness of prostate cancer and encouraging members of the Bronx community to get checked.

For more information on the prostate services the Urology Department provides, visit www.montefiore.org/urology. 


H. Ballentine Carter, MD, Professor of Urology and Oncology at The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, will present at Urology Grand Rounds on Friday, October 20, 2017 in the Weiler Auditorium, Einstein Campus. Dr. Carter is the current President of the American Board of Urology, and is Director of the Prostate Cancer Program and Co-Director of the Precision Medicine Center of Excellence for Prostate Cancer at Johns Hopkins.

Dr. Carter will present on "Active Surveillance: A Practical Approach to Favorable Risk Prostate Cancer." at 7:00 AM. He will then present on Prostate Cancer Screening: From Widespread Adoption to Circumspection at 10:45 AM.


Best Children's Hospitals - Urology

Pediatric Urology ranks one of the nation's best by U.S. News & World Report, one of seven specialties at our Children's Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) to make the list.

"Our national ranking is a testament to the extraordinary professionals on the Pediatric Urology team. Our comprehensive onsite urology team is dedicated to treating young patients with examinations, laboratory and radiology tests and surgery—all in one place," says Mark P. Schoenberg, MD, Chairman and Professor, Urology, Montefiore and Einstein.

For ten consecutive years, CHAM has earned its place on the U.S. News & World Report rankings of the nation's best children's hospitals. Seven subspecialties including, Urology, Neonatology, Cancer, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery ranked in the top 50, and Nephrology and Orthopedics ranked in the top 25.


Amanda North, MD presented her research on stress and burnout among surgical urologists at the recent American Urological Association meeting in Boston.

Dr. North’s research—concluding that women and physicians experiencing work/home conflicts seem to be at increased risk for burnout, which threatens to impact the number of practicing urologists—was published in Urology Practice: An Official Journal of the American Urological Association. She notes that while several strategies have been proposed to alleviate physician burnout, additional work is needed to mitigate the risks for physicians.


Nitya Abraham, MD, has been named received Best Reviewer in 2016 Award by the editors of The Journal of Urology. The award is for her dedicated service and timely reviews of manuscripts on female urology, incontinence and urodynamics/neurourology.

The award was presented to Dr. Abraham during a reception hosted by Elsevier, publisher of The Journal, at the recent American Urological Association Annual Meeting in Boston.


The recent American Urological Association Annual Meeting in Boston was filled with notable accomplishments for our team of urologists, who received accolades and honors for their outstanding research and work in the field.

Aryeh Keehn, MD, Montefiore Urology Chief Resident, won the Fifth Annual AUA National Chief Resident Debate, a competition between chief residents from all eight AUA Sections designed to encourage a spirit of camaraderie and foster the art of persuasion.

Kelvin Davies, PhD was elected to the Board of Directors of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA) and Chair of its Basic Science Committee. The SMSNA promotes, encourages, and supports the highest standards of practice, research, education, and ethics in the study of the anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of human sexual function and dysfunction.


Montefiore Urology’s first annual reception at the American Urological Association (AUA), brought together our faculty, alumnus and, guests. A highlight of the reception, having all of our women faculty together—35% of our faculty are women, one of the largest representations of female urologists in the country.

 

 


On May 12, research conducted by Joshua M. Stern, MD and Kelvin P. Davies, PhD on the gut microbiome and its relevance to kidney stone disease was presented at the American Urological Association (AUA) 2017 Annual Meeting in Boston by the study’s co-investigator, James White PhD, a contributor to the National Institute of Health’s Human Microbiome Project. The study, also published in The Journal of Urology, aims to find new treatment protocols based on the differences in the gut microbiome. Dr. Stern and the team at Albert Einstein College of Medicine were the first to map the gut microbiome in stone disease patients.


Kara Watts, MD, Montefiore Urology, and Seth Lerner, MD, White Plains Hospital Center for Cancer Care, co-chaired the Genitourinary Oncology CME program on April 21, 2017 at the Ritz-Carlton White Plains. Montefiore Urology faculty Mark Schoenberg, MD; Kara Watts, MD; Evan Kovac, MD; and Alexander Sankin, MD presented on key clinical topics surrounding the quickly evolving management of genitourinary malignancies.


Montefiore Urology faculty presented at the 2017 Einstein Alumni Leadership Reception. Mark Schoenberg, MD, Alex Sankin, MD, Joshua Stern, MD, Kelvin Davies, PhD, and Sylvia Suadicani, PhD presented on the collaboration between faculty and basic scientists. The discussion highlighted the ongoing research the team is conducting on bladder cancer immune check-points and stone disease.


Cheryl T. Lee, MD, Chair, Department of Urology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, presented at Urology Grand Rounds on Friday, April 14, 2017 in the Weiler Auditorium, Einstein Campus. Dr. Lee, a prominent expert in bladder cancer, completed her fellowship in urologic oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and serves on the board of directors of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN).

Dr. Lee presented on Managing High Risk Bladder Cancer: Finally Making Progress at 7:00 AM. She then gave a presentation on Residents as Future Leaders: Key Elements for Success at 10:00 AM


Kelvin Davies, MD, Urology and David Sharp, PhD, Einstein, Physiology & Biophysics, were awarded a $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for their research into nerve regeneration after prostatectomy. Dr. Davies and Dr. Sharp are the co-principal investigators on the project, which will look into the microtubule cytoskeleton as a novel target for cavernous nerve regeneration.


Amanda North, MD, Urology participated in a panel on physician burnout at the 12th Annual Urology Joint Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC on March 5, 2017. Dr. North recently published an article in Urology Practice Journal detailing her research into the prevalence of physician burnout among urologists. To read the article, click here


On March 15, 2017, Aryeh Keehn, MD, Urology, was selected as the winner of the AUA New York Section’s Chief Resident Debate. Dr. Keehn will represent the New York Section at the National Chief Resident Debate at the AUA Annual Meeting in Boston, MA on Sunday May 14, 2017. This is the third year in a row that the Montefiore Department of Urology has represented the New York Section at the national debate. Congrats and good luck to Dr. Keehn!


On March 7, 2016, Pedro Maria, MD, conducted a free Seminar on Men's Health, focusing on erectile dysfunction and stress urinary incontinence. The seminar, which was sponsored by Coloplast Corp.and was held in the Tishman Center, Montefiore Moses Campus.


Michael L. Ritchey, MD, Chief of Pediatric Urology at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Professor of Urology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, presented at a Urology Grand Rounds on Friday, January 20, 2017 at 7:30 AM at the Weiler Hospital Auditorium. Dr. Ritchey currently serves as the MOC Chair for the American Board of Urology.

Dr. Ritchey presented on Maintenance of Certification for the American Board of Urology. He then reviewed cases with residents, and presented a second lecture on Urologic Management of Spina Bifida at 10:00 AM. At 2:00 PM Dr. Ritchey spoke on Pediatric GU tumors to Urology, Pediatric Surgery and Pediatric Oncology at Moses TLC 1.


Amanda North, MD, has been invited by the American Urological Association to write an abstract for their upcoming 2017 meeting in Boston. Dr. North's abstract will focus on evaluating the prevalence of burnouts among urologists in the U.S. using the official AUA Census data. Dr. North recently gave a lecture on her research at a meeting of the Bronx Community Health Leaders (BxCHL) on November 1, 2016.


Pedro Maria, DO, presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America in Scottsdale, AZ. Dr. Maria's research focused on the use of a novel approach to penile prosthesis revision using a video laryngoscope to assist in ectopic reservoir placement.


Amanda North, MD, Urology, ran the TCS New York City Marathon on November 6, 2016, finishing in five hours and 51 minutes. Dr. North ran in honor of Children's Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), raising more than $3,000. Congratulations to Dr. North and all of our Montefiore physicians who participated!


Robert C. Flanigan, MD, Professor and the Chair of the Department of Urology at Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine as well as President-Elect of the American Urological Association (AUA), presented “Renal Cancer: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly at a special Urology Grand Rounds on Friday, September 23, 2016 at our Weiler Hospital.

Dr. Robert C. Flanigan is a leader in the field of urologic oncology, whose research on cytoreductive nephrectomy has dramatically changed practice patterns in advanced renal cancer. Most recently, his laboratory's work has focused on the relationship between prostate cancer, prostatic fatty acid levels and obesity. He has served as a principal investigator on many research projects in this area, including a recent five-year National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) R01 grant, "Adiposity and Outcomes of Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer."

In 2011, Dr. Flanigan received the Distinguished Contribution Award of the Society of Basic Urologic Research. He currently serves as the Secretary-Treasurer of the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons, and recently became President-Elect of the American Urological Association (AUA), to begin in May 2017. He has previously served as President of the North Central Section of the AUA, the American Board of Urology, the Society of Urologic Oncology, the Society of University Urologists, and the Society of Pelvic Surgeons, and he was founder and first President of the Society of Urologic Chairpersons and Program Directors.


Selwyn Freed, MD, past Professor and Chairman of the Department of Urology at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine passed away on September 6th, 2016 at the age of 99. Dr. Freed was a graduate of Penn State University and The New York University School of Medicine. He received his surgical and urologic training at Beth Israel and Mount Sinai Hospitals in New York. Dr. Freed joined the staff of Montefiore Hospital in 1949 and became Chief of the Division of Urology in 1971. He was promoted to Professor of Urology at The Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1975. Dr. Freed served as the first Chair of the Montefiore and Einstein Department of Urology between 1980 and 1988.

During his lengthy career, Dr. Freed was an active scholar and leader in Urology. He served as the Chair of the New York Section of the American Urological Association, gave numerous scholarly presentations to national and international audiences and was well known and respected for his contributions to the field on a wide variety of topics including the management of urologic malignancies and lower urinary tract dysfunction.

Dr. Freed retired to Larchmont, New York where he lived with his wife, Iris and daughter Deborah, who survive him. We are grateful for his contributions to the field of Urology and his dedication to Montefiore and Einstein.


Joshua Stern, MD, recently received a two year R21 grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). The grant will fund Dr. Stern’s current research on the gut microbiome and its impact on kidney stones. In addition to the NIH NIDDK funding, the research team received approvals to study fecal transplants and the impact on kidney stone disease.


Alexander I. Sankin, MD,was recently interviewed by OncLive about research he is doing, in collaboration with researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, on immune checkpoints in bladder cancer.  Learn More>


Drs. Mark Schoenberg, Joshua Stern and Alexander Sankin presented at the July meeting of the Panamanian Urological Society’s Symposium on Contemporary Management of Urothelial Cancer. Our team discussed a variety of topics including multi-agent therapy for non-invasive bladder cancer, new innovations in the treatment of upper tract urothelial cancer, as well as checkpoint biology and its relevance to the treatment of advanced urothelial cancer.


Kelvin Davies, PhD, Urology, and Joel Friedman, MD, Physiology and Biophysics, will act as mentors to Andrew Draganski, MD, Physiology and Biophysics, on his post-doctoral research project on possible treatments for Erectile Dysfunction (ED) associated with Diabetes.  Dr. Draganski was recently awarded $25,000 as part of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA) Pfizer Fellowship in Men’s Sexual Health. The research project is part of a collaborative effort between Montefiore’s Urology and Physiology and Biophysics departments.

 


 

Drs. Elzbieta Van der Steen-Banasik and Geert Smits, from Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, Netherlands, presented “Seven Years’ Experience with Laparoscopically (robot-assisted) Performed Bladder Brachytherapy in Solitary Bladder Tumors: Curie-da Vinci Connection” on June 24, 2016 at a special joint Urology and Radiation Oncology Grand Rounds at our Weiler Hospital. Hosting these visiting professors set the ground work for the collaboration between Montefiore Urology  with Drs. Van der Steen-Banasik and Smits,  the first physicians in the world to use a laproscopic and robot-assisted approach in brachytherapy for bladder cancer, to build our brachytherapy program.

Dr. Elzbieta van der Steen-Banasik is a radiation oncologist at the Radiotherapy Institute in Arnhem, Netherlands.  She completed her medical training and sub specialty training in radiation oncology at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. As an active member of multiple INTL medical organizations (ESTRO, ASTRO, EORTC GCG, and ROG) her interests are in organ sparing treatment options for gynecologic and urologic malignancies

Dr. Greet Smits is a urologist at the Rijnstate Medical Center in Arnhem, Netherlands. He received his MD at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands and went on to receive a PhD for his work in urologic oncology research at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands.  As a staff member in the department of urology at the Rijnstate Medical Center, he specializes in uro-oncology and robotic surgery where he routinely performs robotic kidney bladder and prostate surgery.


Kelvin Davies, PhD, received a five-year $2.5 million renewal grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease to study the association between priapism and sickle cell disease. Other key investigators in the team are Dr. Henny Billet (Hematology), Dr. Joel Friedman (Physiology and Biophysics) and Drs. Sylvia Suadicani and Moses Tar (Urology).

There are currently no effective treatments for priapism, a prolonged, painful erection that can lead to erectile dysfunction and permanent tissue damage. Dr. Davies and his colleagues discovered that hypoxic conditions associated with sickle cell disease increased expression of a small protein, called opiorphin. This increase may contribute to priapism by activating pathways that relax smooth muscle in the penis.

In this research, the team will test human and mouse cells to determine if hypoxia increases the expression of opiorphin, and how these increased levels might then result in priapism.  In collaboration with Dr. Billet,  our researchers will determine if sickle cell patients have elevated opiorphin levels in the blood and if there is an association between increased levels of opiorphin with risk of developing priapism. With Dr. Friedman they will explore the use of a nanoparticle delivery system for siRNA-against opiorphin to prevent the onset of priapism associated with sickle cell disease.

Because hypoxia is a factor in several diseases, such as erectile dysfunction, peripheral vascular disease, and anemias, to name a few, the work is likely to increase our understanding of the mechanisms that hypoxia plays in other diseases.


Alexander I. Sankin, MD, and researchers at our Albert Einstein College of Medicine recently discovered a surface cell ligand called HHLA2 in patients with urothelial tumors—specifically, tumors of the bladder, ureters and renal pelvis— that plays a significant role in inhibiting T-cell activity.

Their work is the first study to demonstrate a robust expression pattern of the newly discovered immune checkpoint ligand HHLA2 in human urothelial tumors. Future studies will need to be conducted to further characterize the functional role of HHLA2 in bladder cancer immune evasion pathways and to develop therapeutic strategies to enhance immune mediated tumor destruction.

Dr. Sankin presented this groundbreaking research at the American Urological Association's 2016 annual conference in San Diego.


 

Joshua Stern, MD, —Attending Physician and Assistant Professor of Urology at Montefiore and our Albert Einstein College of Medicine—has been awarded a Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant from the American Society of Nephrology.

This two-year career development grant will allow Dr. Stern to advance biomedical research focused on the link between bacteria in the gut (the gut microbiome) and kidney stones. In collaboration with Einstein researchers Kelvin Davies, PhD and Robert D. Burke, MD, Dr. Stern determined, in a preliminary pilot study recently published in the medical journal Urolithiasis, key differences in the gut microbiome of kidney stone patients compared to patients without kidney stones. They are the first to sequence the gut microbiome in kidney stone patients. The Carl W. Gottschalk Research Scholar Grant gives Dr. Stern the opportunity to further this ground breaking research.


Anthony J. Casale, MD, —Director, Pediatric Urology, at our Children’s Hospital at Montefiore—will receive a presidential citation for his years of leadership in pediatric urology, for the treatment of complex urogenital anomalies in children and his active role in resident teaching at the American Urological Association’s 2016 Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.


Amanda North, MD, —Assistant Professor, Pediatric Urology, has been elected to the 2016-2017 American Urologic Association Leadership Program, which identifies and mentors outstanding early career urologists in academic practice.


Kara Watts, MD, —Chief Resident, Urology—recently won the annual New York Section of the AUA Chief Resident Debate at an event held at the New York Academy of Medicine. Dr. Watts, who will complete her residency in June 2016, has been accepted to a fellowship in image-guided urologic oncology at University College London. She plans to pursue a career in academic medicine.


Drs. Elzbieta Van der Steen-Banasik and Geert Smits, from Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, Netherlands, will present “

Seven Years’ Experience with Laparoscopically (robot-assisted) Performed Bladder Brachytherapy in Solitary Bladder Tumors: Curie-da Vinci Connection” on June 24, 2016 at a special joint Urology and Radiation Oncology Grand Rounds at our Weiler Hospital.

Dr. Elzbieta van der Steen-Banasik is a radiation oncologist at the Radiotherapy Institute in Arnhem, Netherlands. She completed her medical training and sub specialty training in radiation oncology at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. As an active member of multiple INTL medical organizations (ESTRO, ASTRO, EORTC GCG, and ROG) her interests are in organ sparing treatment options for gynecologic and urologic malignancies

Dr. Greet Smits is a urologist at the Rijnstate Medical Center in Arnhem, Netherlands. He received his MD at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands and went on to receive a PhD for his work in urologic oncology research at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands. As a staff member in the department of urology at the Rijnstate Medical Center, he specializes in uro-oncology and robotic surgery where he routinely performs robotic kidney bladder and prostate surgery.

The event, which will take place from 7:00– 10:00am, will be followed by a Q & A session, case presentations and lunch.