An experienced multidisciplinary team.
The surgeons in the Division of General Surgery are experts in all major body systems and specialize in treating patients with a broad range of diseases. We collaborate with specialists in other surgical divisions to provide the highest level of care and the experience of each physician, surgeon and staff member involved in your diagnosis and treatment.
Robert Tripp, MD
Associate Chief of Surgery
Dr. Tripp was born and raised in Rochester and attended McQuaid Jesuit High School. He earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame and his medical degree from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Tripp completed his surgical residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Tripp is board certified in general surgery and has a special interest in endocrine, gastrointestinal, hernia and oncology (cancer) surgeries.
Abdullah Al-Mahayri, MD
Dr. Al-Mahayri, a staff surgeon at Rochester General Hospital, was previously in practice in Ripley, WV and Jefferson, NC. He was also a preceptor of medical students at Marshall University and at West Virginia University, both in West Virginia. Dr. Al-Mahayri earned his medical degree at Damascus University Medical College in Damascus, Syria and was a chief surgical resident in Bridgeport, Connecticut and at Prince George General Hospital in Cheverly, Maryland.
David Burns, MD
Dr. Burns is originally from Central New York. He attended Haverford College in Philadelphia, PA, where he received a B.A. with a major in English. Dr. Burns also completed post-baccalaureate work at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, and after working as a newspaper reporter and grade school teacher, he spent three years teaching in the Western Pacific Island of Truk Micronesia.
Dr. Burns subsequently decided to enroll in medical school, attending the University of Rochester and later pursuing training in Internal Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. He returned to the University of Rochester for training in General Surgery. After completion of his residency, Dr. Burns joined Genesee Surgical Associates in 2006. He has a special interest in gastrointestinal surgery with a focus on minimally invasive techniques.
Christopher Caldwell, MD
Dr. Caldwell is from Vermont and attended Bowdoin College, where he received a B.S. in Chemistry and Biology. He then earned his medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Dr. Caldwell completed his surgical residency at the University of Rochester and later completed a fellowship in surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He is board certified in general surgery. Dr. Caldwell is a frequent presenter to patient and community organizations and has co-authored research papers and contributed to chapters in medical texts related to his specialty areas.
Vincent Chang, MD
Dr. Chang earned his medical degree from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He then completed an internship and residency in general surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital/University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Chang is board certified in general surgery and is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Rochester.
Anthony DiBenedetto, MD
Dr. DiBenedetto Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Rochester General Health System, recognized as a Bariatric Surgery of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. Dr. DiBenedetto earned his medical degree and completed an internship and residency in general surgery at Buffalo State University. Dr. DiBenedetto is board certified in general surgery and has a special interest in bariatric (weight loss) surgery, biliopancreatic diversion, gastric bypass gastrojejunostomy and Lap-Band procedures.
Valerie Dunn, MD
Dr. Dunn earned her medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center College of Medicine. Dr. Dunn has a special interest in trauma surgeryShe is board certified in general surgery and is fluent in English, Spanish and French.
Stephen Ettinghausen, MD
Dr. Stephen Ettinghausen is the Medical Director of Surgical Oncology at the Lipson Cancer Center. He earned his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College. He was Intern & Assistant Resident in the Department of Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, an Assistant Resident in the Department of Pathology and a Senior & Chief Resident in the Department of Surgery at The New York Hospital - Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Ettinghausen also completed cancer fellowships at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Ettinghausen is board certified in General Surgery and has a clinical interest and expertise in hepato-biliary and pancreatic cancer, upper and lower gastrointestinal tract cancers (including recurrent rectal cancer), retroperitoneal and visceral sarcomas, melanoma and breast cancer.
Alok Gandhi, DO
Dr. Alok Gandhi earned his medical degree at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine in Old Westbury, NY. He then completed an internship/residency at St. Barnabas Hospital in Bronx, NY and a fellowship at the University Medical Center at Princeton. Dr. Gandhi is board certified in general surgery and has a special interest in bariatric (weight loss) surgery.
Ruth Hetland, MD
Dr. Hetland earned her medical degree from Washington University and also completed an internship and residency in general surgery at Washington University. She is board certified in general surgery and is a faculty member of the University of Rochester.
H.K. Ramanath, MD
Dr. Ramanath earned his medical degree from Mysore Medical College in Karnataka, India and completed a residency in General Surgery a Rochester General Hospital. He is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Ramanath is board certified in general surgery and is a member of the Rochester Surgical Associates at Rochester General Hospital.
Christopher Richardson, DO, FACS
Dr. Richardson earned his medical degree at New York Institute of Technology. He completed his residency training at St. Barnabas hospital and a fellowship in Orthopaedic Hand Surgery at Lincoln Medical & Mental Health Center. He is board certified in general surgery. Dr. Richardson has a special interest and expertise in robotic surgery and hand surgery.
Dr. Shmigel earned his medical degree at Universitaet Heidelberg. He is board certified in general surgery. Dr. Shmigel practices Occupational Medicine at Rochester General Hospital, focusing on the prevention and management of injuries and illness in the workplace.
Vithal Vic Vernenkar, DO
Dr. Vic Vernenkar earned his medical degree at New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his general surgery residency at St. Barnabas Hospital in Bronx, NY. He subsequently completed a vascular surgery fellowship at the Deborah Heart and Lung Center affiliated with the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is New York State licensed, Board Certified in General Surgery and Vascular Surgery and is a Certified ATLS instructor.
Dr. Vernenkar practices all aspects of general surgery including: thyroid, breast surgery, laparoscopic procedures, (hernia, gall-bladder, bowel resection). Dr. Vernenkar’s goal is to help patients have the most positive and informative experience as possible. He is committed to a team focus on patient safety with positive outcomes in a compassionate manner.
When Dr. Vernenkar is not teaching or seeing patients, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons and dog, a yellow lab. He enjoys movies, history, mysteries and ethnic food.
Brian Watkins, MD
Dr. Watkins is originally from Washington State and attended Seattle University where he received a B.S. in General Science. He then attended the Medical College of Wisconsin where he earned both a master’s degree in anatomy as well as his medical degree. Dr Watkins completed his surgical residency at Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. After residency, Dr. Watkins was an attending physician at a Mayo Clinic hospital in Wisconsin. He moved to Rochester in 2006, and became an attending surgeon at Rochester General Hospital.