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Dr. Barbara Goff has a special connection with UW Medicine. When she began practicing at UW Medical Center in 1993, she was back at the hospital where she was born.

She attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. During one of her rotations, she discovered that gynecologic oncology was the perfect field to fulfill her dream of becoming a surgeon at a time when most general surgeons were men. She completed her advanced training – a residency in obstetrics and gynecology and fellowship in gynecologic oncology – in the Harvard health system.

Cold Boston winters and two jobs in Seattle – one for her and one for her husband, who is also a gynecological oncologist – led her back to UW Medicine.

In November 2017, Goff was named Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She continues to serve as the Surgeon-in-Chief at UW Medical Center and was previously the Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology (a position held since 2005). She sees patients at UW Medical Center, Seattle Cancer Alliance and Valley Medical Center. She is also an affiliate researcher at Fred Hutch and is currently conducting research on a personalized medicine approach to treating ovarian cancer.

Goff shared her pride in the department and her vision for the future in a recent interview.

What is the department known for?

Barbara Goff

Our department is known for clinical excellence in women’s healthcare especially in gynecologic oncology, family planning, high risk pregnancies, pelvic floor disorders, management of menopause, minimally invasive surgery and oncofertility. Each of the clinical divisions has a deep commitment to education and research. We have trained many of the Ob/Gyns in the Pacific Northwest.

We have partnered with Mary-Claire King (genome sciences and medical genetics) to develop one of the most important cancer genetics programs in the country. One of my colleagues, Liz Swisher, is co-leader of the Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team for ovarian cancer research. We have partnered with the Tumor Vaccine Group to provide novel therapies and vaccines for gynecologic cancer.

We are very good at taking care of moms with unusual medical problems and babies that have significant congenital defects. More than half of our deliveries involve high-risk pregnancies.

We have a great partnership with Seattle Children’s, especially in the areas of perinatal diagnostics and fetal therapy. It’s a model for providing top notch care for sick moms and sick babies and getting them the best possible outcomes. We are also exploring a fetal surgery program for babies that need surgery in utero.

Our residency programs are very strong and competitive. We have fellowships in gynecologic oncology, maternal fetal medicine and family planning. We plan to add fellowship programs in adolescent gynecology and reproductive endocrinology. All of our residents and fellows are engaged in research, which expands the influence of the department. We also have one of the most successful Women’s Reproductive Health Research Career Development grants to train junior faculty to become independent investigators.

We are one of the leading institutions in researching the Zika virus and working towards vaccines and prevention. We are leaders in research in chlamydia and other sexually transmitted disease. There is also a large amount of research in HIV, preterm birth, preeclampsia, neuroendocrine modulators of fertility, health services research, addressing racial disparities in cancer care and global health issues facing women, adolescents and children. I’m just now learning about all of the research in the department, and it’s very exciting.

What are your goals for the department?

Our faculty practice at many sites and have diverse interests. One of my visions is to have a unified UW Medicine standard of care for all of our UW Medicine institutions. As we start to partner more with MultiCare and other institutions in the UW Medicine Accountable Care Network, this will be even broader than our current entities. How do we get economies of scale? How do we locate services to meet the growth and demographic trends in our region?

I am very pleased that UW Medicine has adopted a comprehensive five-year strategic plan for women and children’s services, which gives us a roadmap to accomplish this goal. During the first stage, we plan to expand obstetrical services at Northwest Hospital, UWMC and Valley. To attract more women for low-risk deliveries, we are considering facility renovations for our labor floors. We are also partnering with the UW Neighborhood Clinics to include Ob/Gyn services at our network sites. We are excited about the new clinic that will be located on the South Lake Union campus.

I would like to see growth in our research programs. This hopefully will include a Reproductive Health Institute at South Lake Union to support collaborations by our translational and bench researchers in cancer, infectious disease, prematurity, infertility and other areas.

I believe that we should increase the use of simulation for surgical training and continue implementing a TeamSTEPPS approach to improving teamwork and communication for our trainees, faculty and staff.

Mentorship is a cornerstone of a successful academic department. I’d like to have very specific mentorship plans in place for our faculty to make them as successful as possible in scholarly activities and teaching.

How will being department chair change what you do?

It’s a transition. I think it’s important to continue to do research and clinical work, but I will have less time for these roles. I love to do surgery and will still do it, but not as much. The tradeoff is that I will be able to build research programs, fellowships and collaborations over UW Medicine’s growing clinical enterprise. I am excited by these new challenges.

When the history of the department is written in 100 years, how would you like your time at the helm to be described?

I would like to be known as the person who unified obstetrics and gynecology across UW Medicine and beyond. I would like to be known for developing centers of excellence that are models for delivering high quality and cost-effective care across the spectrum of Ob/Gyn services and integrate translational and clinical research into these programs. Outcomes for high-risk moms and babies will have continued to improve. We established new research and training programs. Everyone had a mentor!

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