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Dr. Herbert Chen

Welcome from the Chair

Welcome to the Department of Surgery at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Our department has had a long, illustrious history of making important contributions to clinical care, medical education, ground-breaking research and surgical leadership.

Over the last 15 years, the UAB Department of Surgery has increased in size and is now one of the largest surgical departments in the country. There are more than 130 faculty, 97 residents and 17 fellows, along with more than 400 advanced practice providers and staff. The Department of Surgery consists of nine divisions: Acute Care Surgery, Breast & Endocrine Surgery, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Gastrointestinal Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Surgical Oncology, Transplantation and Vascular Surgery & Endovascular Therapy

Patient Care

The Department of Surgery has a national and international reputation for clinical excellenceUAB Hospital is the third-largest public hospital in the USA and is the only American College of Surgeons-verified Level 1 Trauma Center in the state of Alabama.

UAB’s Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program received a Gold Level Award for Excellence from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). The Children’s of Alabama’s ECMO program has also earned the Award for Excellence in Life Support and is a designated Center of Excellence by ELSO.

The UAB Women & Infants Center houses the largest neonatal ICU in the southeast. In 2019. UAB was honored with the America's Best Hospital designation by the Women's Choice Award for obstetrics, bariatric surgery, heart care and cancer care, and as a best breast center practice.

In 2019, UAB Hospital was named one of the nation's 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals by IBM Watson Health. UAB also recently celebrated becoming the nation's longest single-site kidney chain, boasting more than 100 living donors and recipients, in 2018. That same year, the program celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first transplant in Alabama, which was performed by former Department of Surgery Chair Arnold G. Diethelm, M.D., in 1968.

After surpassing more than 10,000 robotic surgeries in 2018, UAB also became one of the nation's leading hospitals in robotic surgery volume. The addition of a single-port robot in the Heersink School of Medicine has further established UAB Hospital as a leading provider of surgical care.

UAB Medicine clinics, including our principal site the Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital, house more than 1,400 physicians in 39 specialties and 179 sub-specialties and serve more than 6,000 patients per day.

The Kirklin Clinic was named after cardiac surgeon John W. Kirklin, M.D., who was the third chair of the Department of Surgery and is renowned for the development of heart-lung perfusion and its incorporation into open procedures in cardiac surgery.

More than 20 years later, The Kirklin Clinic is one of the busiest outpatient centers in America and continues to focus on compassion, dedication and excellence in patient care. Learn more about the UAB Health System and its facilities.


The Department of Surgery has a rich history of dedication to academic and clinical research with basic, clinical and translational approaches to improvements in medical science and patient care.

Our dedicated research faculty members and surgeon scientists strive to make an impact through discoveries that improve patient care. Investigators in the department receive funding from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, industry and other sources for these research programs and for educational curricula for trainees. The department has a strong interest in P50 Specialized Programs of Research Excellence, program project grants, R01 grants and other forms of research funding that facilitate our mission.

Specific areas of research within the department encompass a broad range of interests with direct and indirect medical relevance, including specific disease entities such as cancer, health disparities, diabetes, end-stage heart and lung failure, trauma, vascular disease and kidney failure; specific treatments that include mechanically-assisted circulatory support, solid organ transplantation and endovascular and vascular technologies; and health policy and medical delivery issues, such as field operational training, outcomes research and surgical methods development.


The Department of Surgery has a deep commitment to surgical education and has experienced many notable accomplishments over the last few years. Trainee research is supported through several departmental grants, and residency programs are offered in general surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, plastic surgery and vascular surgery. The department also offers fellowship programs in transplant surgery, plastic surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, surgical research, trauma and surgical critical care, pediatric surgery, minimally invasive surgery, breast oncology surgery, colorectal surgery, endocrine surgery and vascular surgery.

Welcome to the UAB Department of Surgery. I hope you will enjoy learning more about our top-notch clinical programs, cutting-edge research and modern educational opportunities.

Herbert Chen, M.D., FACS
Fay Fletcher Kerner Chair of Surgery
Chair and Professor, Department of Surgery
Heersink School of Medicine