Benjamin R. Fisher Chair and Professor of Pediatric Surgery and Pediatrics and Director, Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research
Chief of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Surgeon-in-Chief Emeritus, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
Scientific Co-Director of Research, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
George Gittes grew up in La Jolla, California, and then attended Harvard College followed by Harvard Medical School, where he performed research throughout medical school and wrote an honors thesis under the mentorship of Judah Folkman, MD. He then returned to California to be a general surgical resident at the University of California San Francisco, initially under the chairmanship of Haile Debas, MD. During his seven-year tenure in San Francisco, he spent two years working in the laboratory of William Rutter, PhD in the Hormone Research Institute at UCSF, a pioneer in the field of molecular biology who cloned the insulin gene and created the first recombinant hepatitis B vaccine, as well as pioneered the cesium chloride gradient. Upon completion of his general surgical training in San Francisco, Gittes went to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, where he completed a two-year Pediatric Surgery fellowship. He then moved to New York University where he spent three years on faculty as Assistant Professor and Director of the Laboratory for Surgical Organogenesis.
Gittes’ research in pancreatic development expanded, and as he began to garner NIH funding, Gittes was recruited back to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City where he served as the Director of Surgical Research, and rose to rank of Professor of Surgery and held the Thomas M. Holder and Keith W. Ashcraft Chair in Pediatric Surgical Research. During that time in Kansas City he also was elected to the position of President of the Society of University of Surgeons. In 2005, he was recruited to become the Benjamin R. Fisher Chair of Pediatric Surgery, Surgeon-in-Chief, Director of Pediatric Surgical Research at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Professor, Department of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In 2018, after 13 years as the surgeon-in-chief, took emeritus status, and was appointed Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research and Co-Scientific Director of Research at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
This transition has allowed him to focus more of his time on his research. He now lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Elissa, an Adolescent Medicine physician and medical school classmate. His two sons, Grant and Gregory, are both graduates of Brown University. He has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1999, and has finished a seven year stint as a standing member of the Metabolism/Cellular Aspects of Diabetes and Obesity NIH study section.