“There’s a discipline in thoughtfulness to general surgery that I appreciate. I think serving patients in that capacity is what strengthened me as a person.”

Dr. Sayeed Ikramuddin, MD, reflects on the journey that ultimately led to his current position as the Head of the Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

After coming to Minnesota from the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Ikramuddin found himself interested in the impact of surgery on type 2 diabetes. Not long after, he assisted in a diabetes surgery study, which was an important clinical trial in the field.

“If anything were a hallmark of my time here, that would be it.” This trial was a crucial component in looking at the ability of surgery to cure type 2 diabetes. 

Dr. Ikramuddin’s work focuses primarily on less invasive ways that surgery could reduce weight in a patient. What he found, was that the morbidity rate in weight reduction surgeries was widely accepted. With the advances of minimally-invasive surgery at the time, Dr. Ikramuddin knew that this was an area that could be changed for the better.

From there, he began to look at surgical intervention on weight loss and how this independently affects metabolic disease. 

“What we’re really dedicated to now is understanding and harnessing those pathways of metabolic disease. In large part because those pathways don’t apply just to obesity and diabetes but can be easily extrapolated to cancer. In many cases, the underpinning of obesity-related cancers is inflammation, which is an important target by weight-reduction therapy.”

After a multitude of research was completed, Dr. Ikramuddin had the opportunity to teach many others in the country these procedures through minimally-invasive surgery.

Dr. Ikramuddin was originally drawn to the University of Minnesota Medical School for its legacy in cardiac surgery and the history of the program that had trained many surgical leaders.

“I can’t say that it was anything more concrete or well thought out than that. I wanted to be a part of something that could help propel me or keep me on a trajectory to get me where one should be.” 

As the Head of the Department of Surgery, Dr. Ikramuddin is looking to prepare the department for the future. “It’s been a lot of learning, alignment and realignment to the Medical School mission,” he says.

“My hope is to make us nimble enough to respond to the challenges that change will bring. But to also make us anchored, firm and stable enough to build a strong research portfolio as a platform.” 

Within the next five years Dr. Ikramuddin is looking to expand the department’s federal funding portfolio in order to continue research that will pave the way for new therapies. “We propose to be well digitated, not just within the Fairview community, but well recognized as indispensable to the community at large.”

With the help of Dr. Ikramuddin, the accomplished legacy of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Surgery will only continue to grow and break down barriers.