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Herb Chen Color Cropped 3397 Rieger web

Chair, Department of Surgery
Professor of Surgery
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Pediatrics

Fay Fletcher Kerner Endowed Chair
Surgeon-in-Chief, UAB Hospital and Health System
Senior Advisor, O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB
Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Heersink School of Medicine

Areas of Interest
thyroid and parathyroid surgery, minimally invasive radioguided parathyroidectomy, adrenal surgery, endocrine surgery, neuroendocrine cancer biology



Dr. Herbert Chen obtained his BS from Stanford University with Honors and with Distinction in 1988 and graduated from Duke University School of Medicine Alpha Omega Alpha in 1992. Dr. Chen then completed a general surgery residency followed by a surgical oncology and endocrinology fellowship at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Dr. Chen is Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), the Surgeon-in-Chief of UAB Hospital and Health System, and the Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine.  He is a Professor of Surgery, Pediatrics, and Biomedical Engineering, and holds the Fay Fletcher Kerner Endowed Chair.  He is the American Cancer Society MEN2 Thyroid Cancer Professor. Dr. Chen is the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Surgery. He has held several leadership positions in major academic societies including President of the Society of Asian Academic Surgeons Foundation, President of the Association for Academic Surgery, President of the Society of Clinical Surgery, President of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, and President of Surgical Biology Club II.  Dr. Chen has mentored over 130 faculty, post-doctoral fellows, residents, medical students, and undergraduates in his lab.  He has published over 650 original research and review articles and has edited 28 textbooks.  He is well-known for his passion for teaching and mentoring the next generation of surgical leaders. Dr. Chen has also been recognized as a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Clinical and Research Interests

Dr. Chen’s clinical interests include endocrine and neuroendocrine disease with a focus on minimally invasive endocrine surgery. He has one of the largest experiences with radioguided parathyroidectomy (MIRP), and performs high volume thyroid and adrenal surgery. Dr. Chen’s laboratory focuses on the role of cellular signaling pathways in the differentiation and growth of neuroendocrine (NE) tumors including carcinoid, pancreatic islet cell, pheochromocytoma, and medullary thyroid cancer.

Selected Publications

Chen H, Thiagalingam A, Chopra H, et al.. Conservation of the lateral inhibition pathway in human lung cancer: a hairy-related protein (HES-1) directly represses achaete-scute homolog-1 expression. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1997; 94:5355-5360. (385 citations)

Chen H, et al.. Isolated liver metastases from neuroendocrine tumors: does resection prolong survival? J Am Coll Surg. 1998; 187;88-93. (429 citations)

Chen H, Sokoll L, Udelsman R. Outpatient minimally invasive parathyroidectomy: a combination of sestamibi-SPECT localization, cervical block anesthesia, and intraoperative PTH assay. Surgery. 1999; 126:14-18. (383 citations)

Chen H, Pruhs ZM, Starling JR, Mack E. Intraoperative Parathyroid Hormone Testing Improves Cure Rates in Patients Undergoing Minimally Invasive Parathyroidectomy. Surgery 2005; 138: 583-90. (249 citations)

Chen H, Mack E, Starling JR. A Comprehensive Evaluation of Peri-operative Adjuncts during Minimally Invasive Parathyroidectomy: Which is Most Reliable? Ann Surg 2005; 242: 375-383. (251 citations)

Haymart MR, Repplinger DJ, Leverson GE, Elson DF, Sippel RS, Jaume JC, Chen H. Higher Serum TSH Level in Thyroid Nodule Patients is Associated with Greater Risks of Differentiated Thyroid Cancer and Advanced Tumor Stage. JCEM 2008; 93:809-14. (598 citations)

Chen H, Sippel RS, O’Dorisio MS, Vinik AI, Lloyd RV, Pacak K. The NANETS Consensus Guideline for the Diagnosis and Management of Neuroendocrine Tumors: Pheochromocytoma, Paraganglioma, and Medullary Thyroid Cancer. Pancreas 2010; 39: 775-83. (589 citations)

Alexander EK, Pearce EN, Brent GA, Brown RS, Chen H, Dosiou C, Grobman WA, Laurberg P, Lazarus JH, Mandel SJ, Peeters RP, Sullivan S. 2016 Guidelines of the American Thyroid Association for the Diagnosis and Management of Thyroid Disease during Pregnancy and the Postpartum. Thyroid 2017; 27(3):315-389. (2223 citations)

Carter AM, et al. Phosphoprotein-based Biomarkers as Predictors for Cancer Therapy. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2020; 117: 18401

Dream S, Kuo LE, Kuo JH, Sprague SM, Nwariaku F, Wolf M, Olson JA Moe SM, Lindeman B, Chen H. The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons Guidelines for the Definitive Surgical Management of Secondary and Tertiary Renal Hyperparathyroidism. Annals of Surgery 2022; 276: e141-e176.


Stanford University

Medical School
Duke University

Johns Hopkins University 

Johns Hopkins University
General Surgery

Johns Hopkins University
Surgical Oncology, Endocrine Surgery

Honors and Awards 

James Ewing Oncology Fellowship Award for Basic Research (2000)
American Cancer Society Institutional Research Award (2000)
Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract Young Clinician Travel Award (2001)
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Development Award (2001)
American Surgical Association Foundation Fellowship Award (2001)
University of Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association Clinical Science Teaching Award (2002)
George H.A. Clowes, Jr. MD, FACS, Memorial Research Career Development Award of the American College of Surgeons (2003)
Leon E. Sample Memorial Lecture, Yale University (2003)
James IV Association of Surgeons Traveling Fellow for the United States (2004)
Recorder, Association for Academic Surgery (2004-2007)
Central Surgical Association Best Paper by a New Member Award (2005)
Herman Shapiro Lectureship, University of Wisconsin (2005)
Vilas Associate Award (2006)
Carcinoid Cancer Foundation Research Achievement Award (2006)
Australia and New Zealand Chapter of the American College of Surgeons Traveling Fellowship (2007)
Society of Surgical Oncology Clinical Investigator Award (2007)
Midwest Surgical Association Best Paper by a New Member Award (2007)
Gardner Smith Lecture, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions (2008)
President, Association for Academic Surgery (2008-2009)
John Daane Lecture, University of South Florida (2009)
Thurston Adams Lecture, University of Maryland (2010)
Secretary-Treasurer, Surgical Biology Club II (2010-2017)
Treasurer, Society of Clinical Surgery (2010-2014)
American Cancer Society MEN2 Thyroid Cancer Professorship (2011-2015)
American Society of Clinical Investigation (2011)
Murray Brennan Distinguished Lecture, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2011)
Recorder, American Association of Endocrine Surgeons (2011-2014)
Dean’s Award for Excellence in Medical Student Research Mentorship (2011)
Robert Ravdin Lecture, University of Pennsylvania (2011)
Rosen-Rasch Lecture, University of Toronto (2011)
Moses Gunn Lecture, University of Michigan (2012)
Gregory B. Bulkley Lecture, Johns Hopkins University (2012)
Charles Getz Lecture, University of Maryland (2013)
Joseph B. Priestly Lecture, Throckmorton Surgical Society (2013)
Scott Woods Endowed Lecture, Wayne State University (2013)
Caring for Carcinoid Foundation-AACR Award for Carcinoid Tumor and Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor Research (2014)
Byers “Bud” Shaw Lecture, University of Nebraska (2014)
Vice-President, Society of Clinical Surgery (2014-2016)
Danely P. Slaughter Memorial Lecture, Presence Saint Francis (2015)
McEwen Lecture, University of Kansas (2016)
J.C. Thoroughman Lecture, Emory University (2016)
Thomas H. Covey, Jr. Lecture, West Virginia University (2016)
George F. Sheldon Lecture. University of North Carolina (2016)
Robert S. Sparkman Lecture, University of Texas-Southwestern (2016)
President, Society of Clinical Surgery (2016-2018)
James Goodnight Lecture, University of California-Davis (2017)
Association for Academic Surgery Founders Lecture (2017)
Marvin Gliedman Lecture, Montefiore Medical Center (2017)
A.R. Moossa Lecture, University of California-San Diego (2017)
Alfred A. Strauss Lecture, University of Chicago (2017)
Max & Molly Ochs Fischer Lecture, University of Cincinnati (2017)
Brown M. Dobyns Lecture, Case Western Reserve University (2017)
Joel W. Baker Lecture, Virginia Mason Medical Center (2017)
Theodore Drapanas Lecture, Tulane University (2017)
Anthony PC Lim Lecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong (2017)
President, American Association of Endocrine Surgeons (2018-2019)
Howard C. Naffziger Lecture, University of California-San Francisco (2018)
Henry Swan Lecture, University of Colorado (2019)
Robert C. Hickey Lecture, MD Anderson Cancer Center (2019)
Dean’s Excellence Award in Diversity Enhancement (2019)
President, Surgical Biology Club II (2019-2020)
Best Doctors in America (2008-present)
A. Hamblin Letton Lecture. Southeastern Surgical Congress (2020)
William H. Erb Lecture, Philadelphia Academy of Surgery (2020)
Society of Nuclear Medicine GCNMC Lectureship Award (2020)
O.W. Gibbons Lecture, University of Texas-Southwestern (2020)
Charles Mayo Lecture, Northwestern University (2020)
Ferguson-Ottinger Lecture, Massachusetts General Hospital (2020)
Samuel B. Liu Lecture, Oregon Health Sciences (2020)
John Jesseph Lecture, Indiana University (2021)
American College of Surgeons Academy of Master Surgeon Educators (2021)
Larry Pennington Lecture, University of Oklahoma (2021)
Robert F. Gagel ITOG Discovery Award (2022)
Association for Academic Surgery Founders Lecture (2022)
Michael DeBakey Lecture, Baylor College of Medicine (2022)
George Yang MD, PhD Society of Asian Academic Surgeons Trailblazer Award (2022)
AOA David de Harter and Diane de Harter Lecture (2023)
Gordon C. Vineyard Lecture (2023)
William H. Harridge Memorial Lecture (2023)
Association of Women Surgeons Past-President Honorary Member Award (2023)

Contact Information

Campus Address

Patient Appointments and Questions: 205-934-3229
Academic Office: 205-934-3333