Jessie Gills, M.D.
July 2nd, 2017 by Maria Muro
New Orleans Living Magazine
There was never a doubt in Dr. Jessie Gills’
mind that he would pursue a position in New Orleans to practice urology. But
when the president of the Society of Urologic Oncology (SUO) offers you a
fellowship, you go. Even if it means moving to Kansas.
Dr. Gills just wrapped up fellowship training
at the University of Kansas Medical Center and will join Scott Delacroix, M.D.,
to make LSU the first practice in the state with more than one SUO-trained
urologic oncologist. A much-needed addition he says, because unfortunately,
urologic oncologists are in demand.
"When you look at some of the leading cancers
(prostate, kidney, bladder), they’re all in the top 10 cancers in the U.S.,”
Dr. Gills says. "So there’s a real need, and definitely a need at LSU.”
Drs. Gills and Delacroix specialize in the
detection and treatment of urologic malignancies and utilize cutting-edge
technology like robotic minimally invasive surgery, outpatient focal cancer
therapy along with the newest immunotherapies and targeted-drug therapies to
maximize effectiveness against cancer and minimize side effects.
They make it their mission to critically
assess patients for optimal individualized treatment choices and not treat
based on what therapies are newest or en vogue but what is the best treatment
for their patients.
All of this knowledge and experience gets
passed on to their LSU medical students and residents.
On one level, being hired as an academic
physician at LSU is the fulfillment of a lifelong goal. But after more than a
decade of medical training, Dr. Gills says, it’s just business as usual. "The
things you do day in and day out, staying educated on a constantly moving
target, staying up-to-date on what’s best for your patient … I don’t see it as
much of a change in role as it is a change in title.”
For Dr. Gills and his colleagues, there are
many rewards to being a professor and a physician. "Without academics, the
practice of medicine would not advance,” he says. "The most rewarding thing
about academic medicine is you get to guide the practice of urology; the future
of urology and future urologists.”
The benefit of additional fellowship training
is a not only learning new techniques and treatments but also a better
understanding of the biology of a disease. "Understanding cancer biology helps
guide treatment,” he says. "You have to know how a specific disease needs
specific treatment versus just a cookbook approach.”
This knowledge has contributed to making
cancer more of a lifelong management issue instead of the death sentence it
once felt like. "Urologic oncologists have the privilege of being able to make
an intervention and a lasting change for a lot of people,” Dr. Gills says.
"Hopefully over the course of my career we get closer to chronic disease
We’re getting there for some urologic
malignancies that in the not-too-distant past were thought incurable.”
From an early age: Dr.
Gills admired his pediatrician and started volunteering in the emergency room
in tiny Calhoun, La., in high school and college. He eventually worked there
and thought he would go on to become an ER physician.
A funny thing happened on
the way to the ER: In medical school at LSU, Dr. Gills found working with the
urologists a career-changing experience. "Their desire to involve students, to
teach and practice at such a high level, it really inspires you to look for the
best in yourself as well,” he says.
Collaboration at LSU:
Having two SUO-trained urologic oncologists is a huge advantage for LSU.
"Without a doubt, it’s always good to have someone to bounce cases off of,” Dr.
Gills says. "Discussing management and having someone around to help with
difficult surgeries is a huge plus.” As for that second surgeon being Dr.
Delacroix, Dr. Gills says that he is an ideal partner because he is "someone
who works tirelessly as an advocate for his patients to do the right thing even
when it’s not the easy thing.”
In his spare time: Dr.
Gills conducts research on understanding the predictors of response to
immunotherapy since only about a quarter of patients with advanced urologic
cancers respond to the treatment.
It’s all worth it: Dr.
Gills says he’s actually better at handling criticism than praise. "[But] it’s
always nice on those days when a patient gives you a hug,” he says. "It
re-instills in you that this is a making a difference in people’s lives.”
He must love NOLA:
Arriving in summer with a 3-year-old and his pregnant wife will be an immediate
reminder that he’s back in the swampy South. But, he reports, he can’t wait to
get back to "food and family.” Good seafood is hard to find in the middle of
Medical School: LSU
Internship: Ochsner, General Surgery
Residency: LSU/Ochsner, Urology
Fellowship: The University of Kansas Medical Center, Urologic Oncology
LSU Network Clinic
3601 Houma Blvd., Ste. 302
Metairie, LA 70006