Pediatric surgery unit establishes international academic exchange

August 19, 2004

Hershey, Pa. -- Penn State Children's Hospital and University Children's Hospital, Tuebingen, Germany, have initiated an international exchange program for residents and attending physicians. The program currently focuses on pediatric surgery, but has the potential to expand to other areas.

The program, conceptualized by a German pediatric surgeon visiting with Penn State Children's Hospital in 2001, is a mutual exchange between the two institutions. The purpose of the program is to expose residents and attending physicians to a different system of health-care delivery, to share knowledge and to find common research interests. Each year the program hopes to enroll one surgeon to participate in clinical work, research and education at each of the respective institutions.

The first participant, Steven Warmann, senior pediatric surgery resident and accomplished basic science researcher, University Children's Hospital, Germany, recently observed the clinical practice and research projects within the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Penn State Children's Hospital, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

"One of the main goals of my visit at Penn State was to learn about the differences in clinical, research and educational aspects between the two health-care systems and use this experience to further improve our programs," Warmann said. Warmann was especially impressed with the multidisciplinary team approach of health-care delivery and with the markedly shorter postoperative lengths of stay.

During his stay, Warmann presented "Multidrug resistance in human hepatoblastoma and ways of its reversal," in surgery grand rounds, an educational conference for physicians and staff. This represents one main area of research interest at the German institution. Warmann hopes that scientific exchange between Tuebingen and Penn State will open doors for collaborative projects.

The division of pediatric surgery at Penn State views this new exchange program as greatly beneficial. "This program has begun on a solid foot and our first experience has proved to be mutually valuable," said Andreas H. Meier, assistant professor of surgery and pediatrics, Penn State Children's Hospital. Meier, a native of Germany, coordinated the exchange.

"We are looking forward to learning more about the liver tumor program at Tuebingen, which is one of the largest in Europe," said Meier. "I think we can offer clinical expertise to our German colleagues, especially with our pediatric minimally invasive program. This is truly a bi-lateral exchange program."

Warmann and Meier see room for expansion. Both institutions are interested in improving surgical education through Web-based interfaces and multimedia, and see the possibility of telemedicine exchanges in the future. There also are plans to compare outcomes for common pediatric surgery problems between the two groups.

The division of pediatric surgery at Penn State Children's Hospital is committed to the surgical care of infants, children and adolescents. The team is involved in research projects including lung development research, biliary atresia, pediatric surgery outcomes, surgical education and advanced technologies in surgery.

For more information on the division of pediatric surgery, call (717) 531-8342 or visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009