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Upperman to succeed Brock as Surgeon-in-Chief of Children’s Hospital

Sep. 17, 2019, 9:57 AM

by Christina Echegaray

After successfully serving as Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s first Surgeon-in-Chief for 17 years, John W. Brock III, MD, will transition to focus on his role as Senior Vice President of Pediatric Surgical Services and will become Surgeon-in-Chief Emeritus.

John W. Brock III, MD

Brock, who will continue his roles as director of Pediatric Urology and Monroe Carell Jr. Professor, will be succeeded as Surgeon-in-Chief by Jeffrey Upperman, MD.

Selected following an extensive national search, Upperman, who currently serves as director of the Trauma Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, will join Children’s Hospital in November as Surgeon-in-Chief as well as chair of the Department of Pediatric Surgery.

“Dr. Brock has provided extraordinary service to Tennessee’s children by playing a central and critical role in establishing and growing one of the finest children’s hospitals in the nation. As we continue to expand services, it is hard to imagine that just 15 years ago Nashville did not have a stand-alone children’s hospital. We are grateful to Dr. Brock for his singular contributions,” said Seth Karp, MD, the H. William Scott Jr. Professor, chair of the Section of Surgical Services, Surgeon-in-Chief of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center.

Jeffrey Upperman, MD

“Dr. Upperman has a great combination of energy, leadership and national accomplishments in taking care of children. He has significant expertise in trauma and community engagement as well as an extensive research portfolio. He is coming from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where he has done an extraordinary job, and we are looking forward to having him here to continue to grow and develop our clinical excellence in the care of children in Middle Tennessee and beyond.”

Under Brock’s guidance as Surgeon-in-Chief, volumes for all surgical specialties at Children’s Hospital have tripled; transparent patient quality and safety models have been developed; and multiple off-site clinics have been established.

As Senior Vice President of Pediatric Surgical Services, Brock will continue to work to identify new geographic locations that benefit from the presence of pediatric surgical services and coordinate with departments across Vanderbilt University Medical Center to implement new locations.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Brock for his distinguished leadership as Surgeon-in-Chief for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. While ensuring the very highest standards of excellence in the care of our most vulnerable patients, growing the scope and depth of pediatric surgical services, John has also served ably as the hospital’s ambassador in our community. His passion for the health of all children is always evident. As Senior Vice President of Surgical Services he will continue the important responsibility of guiding development of new pediatric facilities and services throughout the region,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC.

“Through this transition, I want to welcome Dr. Upperman into this critical role for Children’s Hospital and our health system. He is an outstanding choice to succeed Dr. Brock and I look forward to his contributions.”

Brock has overseen a Children’s Hospital project to open a new 37,500-square-foot facility in Murfreesboro later this year that expands pediatric specialty care, outpatient surgery and imaging services to children in Rutherford and surrounding counties. The facility, named the Vanderbilt Children’s Surgery and Clinics, expects to begin serving children in November.

“I have loved the opportunity to serve as Surgeon-in-Chief for the last 17 years, working alongside a committed and compassionate group of surgeons, nurses and operating room staff. I am privileged and humbled to have been given the opportunity to lead the Children’s Hospital surgical enterprise in that role. Moving forward, as more families look to access excellent pediatric ambulatory surgical care closer to home, I will continue to look for ways to expand the footprint of Children’s Hospital in the community and beyond,” Brock said.

“I remain committed to my role on the Children’s Hospital senior leadership team and will be actively involved in the community representing the hospital among philanthropic groups, organizations and individuals that support our important mission. I am very excited to work with Dr. Upperman. He is a highly-regarded and extremely experienced surgeon who is well-suited not only to provide the quality, compassionate, cutting-edge care our children deserve but also to guide our surgical teams moving forward.”

Brock has had roots at Children’s Hospital for more than 30 years. He received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia. He did residency training at VUMC where he served as chief resident in Urology and has remained at Children’s Hospital since.

The author and co-author of more than 220 scholarly publications and book chapters, Brock has been an invited presenter at nearly 300 gatherings.

“Dr. Brock’s unwavering commitment to Children’s Hospital is unmistakable. For over 30 years, he has grown and established Children’s Hospital as a premier and destination pediatric surgical center where families come from across the country for quality care from top surgeons. As we continue to expand our pediatric specialty care out into the community and across the region, Dr. Brock serves a vital role in leading these efforts to ensure we meet the same standard of excellence for patients and families as we provide on our main campus,” said Luke Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital.

“We are very excited that Dr. Upperman will join us to serve as our second-ever Surgeon-in-Chief of Children’s Hospital. This is an exciting time for Children’s Hospital as we celebrate our newest expansion floor and prepare to open an additional floor in early 2020, expanding our ability to serve even more children and families. Dr. Upperman, with his wealth of knowledge and national expertise in surgical and trauma care for children, will help usher us into this next chapter of growth and continue the quality surgical care that is synonymous with the Children’s Hospital reputation,” Gregory added.

Upperman comes to Children’s Hospital from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), where he has been since 2006, achieving national recognition as an expert in trauma, disaster preparedness and injury prevention. He oversees the CHLA’s American College of Surgeons Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center and serves as tenured professor of Surgery at the University of Southern California.

Upperman said over his career he has admired Nashville and Children’s Hospital for their successes, opportunities and future potential, and knew it was a place he’d love to work someday.

“Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has always had a special place in my heart. I see an absolute powerhouse of people, and the spirit and character of the people stand out for me. Children’s Hospital is uniquely positioned to be a juggernaut in children’s health care for the greater Southeast area. I am excited by the potential and the real possibilities,” Upperman said.

As he begins his new roles at Children’s Hospital, he said he will meet with various teams and stakeholders to take inventory of strengths and areas of improvement to help set a vision for the coming months and years.

“I look forward to working with the Children’s Hospital leadership team to come up with an agenda that will catapult us in the next decade as a top children’s hospital,” he said.

Upperman graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in human biology and a master’s degree in sociology. He earned a medical degree from New Jersey Medical School. He did his internship and residency at University Hospital in New Jersey and completed a fellowship in pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where he was interim director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program before joining CHLA.

Upperman is also a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army Medical Corps, having served as chief of Surgery during operation Iraqi Freedom 2 in 2004. Additionally, he serves as a sworn member of the National Advisory Committee for Children in Disasters for the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the American Red Cross. He was a panel member on the Institutes of Medicine panel on Prepositioning Antibiotics for Anthrax in 2012. He has served as a permanent member of the pediatrics study section in the Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development.

As a researcher, Upperman has published over 180 peer-reviewed publications, 200 abstracts and 20 book chapters. His research interests include sepsis, inflammation, trauma and disaster preparedness, which have received research funding support from the National Institutes of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Upperman and his wife of 26 years, Bevanne Bean-Mayberry, MD, a women’s health clinician and researcher, have three sons, Jeffrey Jr., 21, Joshua, 19, and Joseph, 17, and a dog, Buster.

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