Eric Wise, MD, MA, has a dynamic and rewarding job as a general and bariatric surgeon, as well as a researcher with the University of Minnesota Physicians (M Physicians). He helps patients directly by providing surgical care while also contributing to advancing medical knowledge through his research. “My job is really enjoyable because I get to do something different every day of the week,” Dr. Wise says. 

On days when he’s in the clinic, he sees patients who are experiencing obesity or have general surgery conditions, including gallbladder problems, hernias, small intestinal problems or liver conditions. In the operating room, he tends to use laparoscopy, a minimally invasive surgical approach where he uses tools placed through very small incisions inside the patient’s abdomen. Additionally, he uses a surgical robot, which he specializes in. “We can use a robotic tool to make the surgery even easier, both on the surgeon and, more importantly, on the patient,” he explains. 

Dr. Wise has an interest in vascular biology and the study of blood vessels in research models. He also collaborates with other medical professionals, such as his co-surgeons, gastroenterologists, anesthesiologists, surgical residents and trainees, to gain a better understanding of clinical outcomes. “It becomes a team effort to detect new patterns in clinical outcomes and implications on how we can use that information to better treat patients, or how we should change our practice to adapt,” states Dr. Wise. 

Dr. Wise has a passion for what he does and is dedicated to improving the lives of his patients. Interestingly enough, surgery wasn't his first choice while in medical school. It’s not uncommon for medical students to have certain preconceptions about certain specialties, but he was able to see past those stereotypes and discover his passion for surgery. 

“[In medical school] I took surgery to get it out of the way, but my gosh! The impact that the surgeon had on those patients on my surgical rotation was incredible,” he remembers, adding, “​​It was very fulfilling. It took a tremendous amount of technical skill and long hours, but I just couldn’t see myself doing anything different.”

As he progressed in his career and came to U of M Medical School as a surgical fellow, he worked in the Center for Weight Management clinic. He observed the teamwork approach of the clinic, which involved nurse practitioners, dieticians, endocrinologists and other specialists. Together, they provided a holistic approach to treating patients with obesity and related comorbidities.

“Minnesota is one of the few departments in the world with a bariatric surgeon as our chairman, and surgeon-in-chief. We have international thought leaders right here who I have the privilege of learning from, and that’s really indispensable in shaping my philosophy toward the team approach,” he says.

With hard work and dedication, Dr. Wise has a bright future ahead of him. He looks forward to expanding his practice and offering more patient-centered options, such as robotic surgery. He has a lofty but passionate goal of having his own independently-funded research program in the future. 

“The coolest thing is taking a clinical problem to the lab, developing a solution and then bringing that back to the bedside, a paradigm that is something I’m really passionate about,” shares Dr. Wise. “I think this is the place that has the right mentorship and infrastructure to allow me to do that, and it’s been the case so far. But I still have ways to go.”