Interviews with Outstanding Authors (2024)

Posted On 2024-04-09 09:14:32

In 2024, many TAU authors make outstanding contributions to our journal. Their articles published with us have received very well feedback in the field and stimulate a lot of discussions and new insights among the peers.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding authors who have been making immense efforts in their research fields, with a brief interview of their unique perspective and insightful view as authors.

Outstanding Authors (2024)

Blair R. Peters, Oregon Health & Science University, USA

Kellen Choi, The University of Louisville, USA

Kevin Kayvan Zarrabi, Thomas Jefferson University, USA


Outstanding Author

Blair R. Peters

Dr. Blair Peters is a double fellowship-trained plastic surgeon who specializes in gender-affirming surgery and peripheral nerve surgery. He is an Assistant Professor in both the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the Department of Urology at Oregon Health & Science University and current Director of the Advanced Gender-Affirming Surgery Fellowship. He is one of the first surgeons in North America to complete a fellowship in comprehensive gender-affirming surgery. He carries out clinical research that focuses on optimizing sensation and nerve outcomes in gender-affirming and genital surgery and individualized approaches to patient care. He is frequently invited to speak nationally and internationally regarding techniques in gender and genital surgery. And he is a recognized expert in surgical techniques and multi-disciplinary approaches to gender-affirming care. He strives to be a strong voice in medicine and surgery and focuses on shifting the culture of medicine and mentoring future generations of affirming surgeons. Connect with Dr. Peters on Instagram/Threads: @queersurgeon.

The most essential element of a paper, according to Dr. Peters, is its purpose. To him, we are in a culture of academic medicine that often demands productivity. Unfortunately, that has led to a lot of bloat of the body of literature and a push to publish just to “publish”. The best papers have a clear purpose, whether that is to answer an unanswered question, report a novel surgical technique, etc. If the purpose is clear and shines through, then the paper will carry meaning and impact.

In Dr. Peters’ opinion, during preparation of a paper, authors should keep the intended audience in mind. He adds, “No one reading your paper will know more about that specific topic than you do. There can be a tendency to want to put every pearl of wisdom or knowledge you have into a body of work. However, that can often translate into information overload and the true purpose or ‘takeaway’ of a paper getting lost. The most effective papers have a clear purpose and answer a clear question.”

Lastly, Dr. Peters shares that he chooses to publish in TAU because the journal format allows for robust coverage of topics that sometimes require a significant amount of text or figures. He explains, “It is a great journal for review articles and expert opinion pieces regarding advanced surgical techniques. Many of these types of papers from TAU are both highly cited but also beloved by surgeons and surgical trainees as they are highly clinically relevant and inform practice.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)


Kellen Choi

Kellen Choi is an Advisory Dean and Faculty Urologist at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Her research focuses on neurourology and urologic surgeries that affect patients’ quality of life and surgical outcomes. She is a fellowship-trained, board-certified urologic surgeon who concentrates on research on surgical education and outcomes, novel surgical techniques, and ways to improve surgical outcomes in urology, and helping spinal cord injury patients recover their urologic functions with neuromodulation. She has a broad background in urology, with specific training and expertise in reconstructive urology and neurourology.

According to Dr. Choi, good academic papers answer novel questions or attempt to find validity in well-known phenomena that have been accepted for decades as dogma in the scientific community. She regards continuous curiosity and persistence as key skills for an author. By being curious about why certain patients get better but not others and what the true mechanism of action is for certain treatment options, the author can think outside the box to connect the dots. When mentoring medical students, she advises them to anticipate multiple rejections before acceptance of their manuscript. Having the grit to be encouraged to try again when the manuscript is not published is crucial to academic writing.

Dr. Choi shares her own experience during academic writing, “One of my happiest memories of my initial academic writing experience is my intern year during my urology residency at Charleston Area Medica Center. As a young urology intern, we worked at a urology resident clinic once a week. We had a couple of biochemical recurrence patients after prostatectomy who had positive surgical margins (PSM), and I noticed some of them and adjuvant radiation, but some of them did not. As a young intern, still learning the wonderful, vast world of urology, I asked my attending out of curiosity, ‘What do you do when patients have biochemical recurrence after prostatectomy? And how come some patients got immediate radiation after prostatectomy when they had a positive surgical margin, but some people waited until biochemical recurrence happened?’ My attending physician kindly described the difference between adjuvant radiation and salvage radiation and explained to me that, at the time, there was inconclusive data on what to do with PSM patients after prostatectomy. Our curiosity about the topic led to my very first urology project that started my urology research career, looking at retrospective data on prostatectomy patients who had PSM and BCR. I thank Dr. Deem for helping me navigate problem-solving skills and continuing with a curious mind. It gave me confidence that research ideas could start from anywhere, including the resident clinic discussing patient care, even as a young intern!

(by Sasa Zhu, Brad Li)


Kevin Kayvan Zarrabi

Kevin Kayvan Zarrabi, MS, MS, FACP, is an Assistant Professor and a medical oncologist at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. He specializes in genitourinary oncology with a focus on renal cell carcinoma, prostate cancer, urothelial carcinoma, and germ cell tumors. Dr. Zarrabi has published numerous articles pertaining to genitourinary malignancies. He is an active clinical and translational researcher, has worked to design clinical trials and serves as an investigator on multiple studies pertaining to urologic disease. He completed his undergraduate studies at Stony Brook University in New York with a major in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. He then completed his master’s degree in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. Through that time, Dr. Zarrabi performed laboratory-based research studying the matrix metalloproteases and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and their role in cancer cell migration. He then completed his medical degree at St. Georges University School of Medicine, and his residency at Stony Brook University Hospital, where he also served as chief resident. Dr. Zarrabi then went on to complete his hematology/oncology fellowship at the venerable Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He is an active member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the America Association for Cancer Researcher, and Faculty of the American College of Physicians. Connect with him on Twitter.

Dr. Zarrabi thinks that academic writing is at the foundation of scientific progress – pertaining to the biomedical sciences, humanities-based sciences, and alternative areas of study. At its core, academic writing embodies ethical principles and aims to remain objective in its goal, which is to share novel thoughts, perspectives, or data with the community at large in a clear and concise manner. Academic writing is structured and requires careful consideration of how to best convey the content intended to be shared, which provides time for pause and appraisal of one’s own work. This is important, as one’s work is informed by their own perceptions and experiences, which may be inherently biased. Further, academic writing is typically an ideal space for peer review, which is an important and historic practice dating back to the 5th century and provides opportunity for external critique and evaluation of the writing and content.

In Dr. Zarrabi’s view, peer review can be wearing and even condemnatory. To him, when academic writing feels arduous, he often finds solace in the body of work he aims to share through his writing. Once successful in publishing, the work is then considered a forever part of the greater body of literature pertaining to the subject matter. In rare instances, the work can be timeless and impact the future direction of science – and often that value is felt years or decades after initial publication. Regardless of the overall ‘impact’ a single publication or manuscript may have, or even if the body of work is proven to be incorrect or controversial, all academic writing will always have value. In all, the path towards publication is a rich and rewarding experience.

In Dr. Zarrabi’s opinion, navigating data sharing is complex – but in the instances where platforms, databases, and journals have been developed which enable safe and transparent data sharing, it has been fruitful and facilitated scientific discovery. Whether in the basic sciences, translational, or clinical research, data sharing can streamline communication of scientific data, in a verifiable matter that increases reproducibility and ultimately even public trust. In instances of effective data sharing, often through well-funded or governmental biobanks and databases, the possibilities for advancement are abundant.

(by Sasa Zhu, Brad Li)