February 2, 2023

Spann, Geiger move into new Surgical Sciences leadership roles


by Jill Clendening

Matthew Spann, MD, MMHC, associate professor of Surgery and director of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, has been named chief of the Division of General Surgery in the Department of Surgery in the Section of Surgical Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, effective Jan. 15.

Matthew Spann, MD, MMHC
Matthew Spann, MD, MMHC

Spann has moved into this new role as the former General Surgery chief, Timothy Geiger, MD, MMHC, has been named to a new role as vice chair for Network Surgical Strategy and Development in the Section of Surgical Sciences.

“Matthew Spann has proven to be an exceptional leader in the Department of Surgery, as evidenced by the remarkable growth and outstanding reputation of the Surgical Weight Loss Center under his leadership,” said Carmen C. Solórzano, MD, John L. Sawyers Professor of Surgical Sciences and chair of the Department of Surgery.

“During his time as director of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the VUMC Surgical Weight Loss Center expanded from one to four locations in the region, and VUMC now performs one in every 10 weight-loss surgeries recorded in the state of Tennessee. This program is held up as an aspirational goal for other surgical service lines to emulate. We look forward to his continued achievements as he leads the Division of General Surgery.”

Timothy Geiger, MD, MMHC
Timothy Geiger, MD, MMHC

Spann joined the Division of General Surgery in the Department of Surgery as an assistant professor of Surgery in 2014 after completing a minimally invasive and bariatric surgery fellowship at VUMC. He rose to the rank of associate professor and has served and continues to serve in several leadership positions including co-director of the VUMC Weight Loss Center and medical director of the General Surgery operating room POD at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

When Spann assumed the role of director of the VUMC Surgical Weight Loss Center in the fall of 2017, the surgical weight loss program had declining patient volumes and a cumbersome evaluation system. Spann formed a fast-track pathway for patient care in collaboration with Women’s Health, Orthopedic Surgery and Plastic Surgery for direct patient scheduling coordination in preparation for surgery.

In addition, the weight loss program is on the forefront of medical technology with direct online patient scheduling, telemedicine, a robust collaboration with industry for endobariatric procedures and online patient education.

Spann also has a strong educational commitment. He helped create the Fundamentals of Endoscopic Surgery program for the general surgery residency, a requirement for general surgery resident graduation.

He is the coordinator for the bariatric enhanced recovery after surgery program, a highly important quality and learning program in the perioperative environment, and he is a preceptor for first-year medical students during the Foundations of Healthcare Delivery course. He has also mentored numerous trainees and continues to teach in the wards, operating room, clinics and skills laboratory.

“It is truly an honor to have an opportunity to lead this outstanding group,” Spann said. “I want to thank Dr. Geiger for his leadership as he has allowed the Division of General Surgery to reach unprecedented heights. During my tenure, we will continue our efforts to expand high quality surgical care to patients in Middle Tennessee and beyond.

“We will further elevate our Hernia Center and Foregut Surgery programs to the national spotlight and support the continued growth of Colon and Rectal Surgery and Bariatric Surgery. In addition to fostering our clinical growth, we will focus on maturing surgical research and innovation within our disciplines, highlighting our current and future national leaders in surgery.”

Geiger came to VUMC in 2010, and he was named clinical director of the Colon and Rectal Surgery Program in 2015. Just one year later, he was tapped to become chief of the Division of General Surgery. In 2017, Geiger was named executive medical director of the Surgery Patient Care Center (PCC) a service area that includes both on- and off-campus clinics and inpatient units that provide surgical services. He will continue serving in that role.

During Geiger’s tenure as chief of the Division of General Surgery, the division grew significantly and has contributed innovative surgical initiatives at VUMC, including robotic complex abdominal wall hernia repair.

Under his leadership, the division surpassed 1,000 bariatric procedures, established a colorectal surgery fellowship, created an innovative foregut surgical program, increased research productivity and achieved some of the lowest colorectal surgical infection rates in the nation, among other accomplishments.

“Holding the position of division chief has been an unbelievable honor,” said Geiger. “This group is in excellent hands with Dr. Spann, and I know our team will continue to grow and flourish with his leadership. I am excited about my new role, and I look forward to helping define a unified network of surgeons across all VUMC campuses.”

“Tim’s contributions while serving as executive medical director of the Surgery PCC, and in the Department of Surgery and Section of Surgical Sciences will continue to be highly valuable as he sets the strategic and operational direction of the PCC including helping to achieve our goals related to service delivery, financial health and quality of care, among others,” said Seth Karp, MD, H. William Scott Jr. Professor and chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences.

“As he assumes additional responsibilities as vice chair for Network Surgical Strategy and Development, he will remain an integral and valuable member of the division, department and the Section of Surgical Sciences.”