Get to Know the Program Director

Joel Shilyansky, MD

Dr. Shilyansky with patientJoel Shilyansky, MD is the Robert and Hélène Soper Chair of Pediatric Surgery and surgeon-in-chief for University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. 

  • Medical school: University of California at Los Angeles
  • Residency: University of Michigan Medical Center
  • Fellowship: Surgical Oncology at National Institutes of Health
  • Fellowship: Pediatric Surgery, University of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children

His research focuses on the immune response in pediatric cancer patients, and additional studies in his laboratory related to cancer vaccine development. 

Why did you decide to be a physician?
Medicine is something I found fascinating, interesting, and exciting. Being a doctor provided me with an opportunity to serve the community and the people around me, and that’s always been important to me.
Why pediatric surgery?
With pediatric surgery, you must be very proactive. It involves being thoughtful. You make decisions, and you execute them, and you don’t get to ‘wait and see’ too much. But you also get to see the results of what you do—sometimes very quickly and very dramatically.
What attracted you to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital?
I knew that Iowa was an outstanding university, and there was a really strong tradition of excellence in pediatric surgery. In Iowa I had the opportunity to build the division of pediatric surgery and add to that tradition. Most importantly I have really good colleagues and that makes work fun.
What makes our children’s hospital special?
It’s just an excellent environment for patient care and work because of the expertise and dedication of employees at all levels of care, from the people who clean the rooms to nurses and doctors and others. It has all the new technologies, is state-of-the-art, and the whole team is together