Figenshau named Taylor and Clayman chair

R. Sherburne Figenshau, M.D., has been named the Taylor Family and Ralph V. Clayman, M.D., Minimally Invasive Urology Chair at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The endowed chair was established to honor former Washington University urologic surgeon Ralph V. Clayman, M.D., and was initiated by a challenge grant from Jack Taylor, founder of Enterprise Holdings which, through its regional subsidiaries, owns and operates the Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental brands. With support from many donors, the chair funds Figenshau’s clinical research and his opportunities to learn and develop more effective minimally invasive surgery techniques.


“Ralph Clayman has one of the most innovative minds and is a pioneer in minimally invasive urologic procedures,” says Timothy J. Eberlein, M.D., Bixby Professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor and director of the Siteman Cancer Center and surgeon-in-chief at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “His legacy is continued through this chair and by the fabulous care Dr. Figenshau gives to every patient. Dr. Figenshau brings extraordinary skill and technical precision to minimally invasive urologic surgery. He has been a leader in developing new techniques in his field, and he is highly regarded not only for his expertise but for the compassion and kindness he shows to his patients,” Eberlein says.

“Dr. Figenshau’s collaborative research to improve minimally invasive surgical techniques for patients diagnosed with renal, prostate or testicular cancer is leading to better care and outcomes not only for St. Louisans but for people all over the world,” says Rich Liekweg, president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. “We are grateful for this extraordinary opportunity to invest in his work, which will help Barnes-Jewish and our Washington University Physician partners remain national leaders in patient care and innovation.”

In 1990, while on the Washington University faculty, Clayman led a team that performed the first laparoscopic surgery to remove a kidney. He has continued to develop other innovative laparoscopic procedures and was recently named dean of the University of California Irvine School of Medicine.

Figenshau is professor of surgery in the Division of Urologic Surgery and a specialist in urologic oncology at the Siteman Cancer Center. He also is a leader in minimally invasive urologic surgery and has helped to establish the School of Medicine as a leader in robotic-assisted partial nephrectomy. With this laparoscopic procedure, surgeons rely on robotic instruments and high-resolution cameras to remove kidney tumors while preserving the function of the healthy portion of the kidney.

“It is a very special honor to be named the Taylor Family and Ralph V. Clayman Chair in Minimally Invasive Urology,” Figenshau says. “Dr. Clayman has been an inspirational role model for many, and particularly to me throughout my career. This chair will help continue the advancement of minimally invasive surgical techniques developed by Dr. Clayman. It also will help fulfill Washington University’s mission of education and surgical training and Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s mission of delivering the best possible care for our patients.”

Figenshau’s research has focused on minimally invasive partial nephrectomy. He has developed surgical techniques that reduce the time the blood supply to the kidney is cut off, which has helped to improve patient outcomes. He also has extensive experience using laparoscopic surgery to remove the lymph nodes in patients with testicular cancer to assess the spread of the disease. This procedure is traditionally performed through a lengthy incision from the breast bone to the pubic bone. The minimally invasive approach dramatically reduces pain and recovery time and works as well as the traditional, open procedure.

Figenshau earned a medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School. He completed an internship and residency in general surgery and then a residency in urologic surgery, all at Washington University School of Medicine. Figenshau joined the School of Medicine faculty in 1993 and serves on the staff at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Siteman Cancer Center is the only federally designated Comprehensive Cancer Center within a 240-mile radius of St. Louis. Siteman Cancer Center is composed of the combined cancer research and treatment programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Siteman has satellite locations in West County and St. Peters, in addition to its full-service facility at Washington University Medical Center on South Kingshighway.

The Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation supports medical education, funds clinical research and innovations in technology, and helps to improve community health so that all people served by Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University Physicians will live healthier lives. Every gift that the Foundation receives is transformed immediately into program funding that results in better patient care, health and outcomes at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.