Young Urologist of the Year Award Winners
Established by the 2012-2013 AUA Young Urologists Committee (YUC) Chair, Dr. Michael C. Ost, the Young Urologist of the Year Award is presented annually to select early-career AUA members in recognition of their efforts and commitment to advancing the development of fellow young urologists. The following members were selected by their colleagues who serve on the Young Urologists Committee and endorsed by their respective Section/Society to receive this special honor for 2023.
Rena Malik, MD
University of Maryland
Since her graduation from fellowship, Dr. Rena Malik has been an engaged and innovative young urologist in the MidAtlantic Section. She served as Chair of the Section's Resident's Day in 2022 and also has been on the MAAUA Awards Committee. She is the recipient of the William D. Steers Award for her work on urinary biomarkers that are predictive of catheter associated urinary tract infections. She is also the recipient of the Urology Care Foundation 2021 Research Scholar Award. She was awarded "Top Social Media Presence" by Urology Practice Journal in 2022 and serves on the editorial boards of Urology Practice Journal and Journal of Urology. She has a thriving practice in female pelvic medicine and reconstruction and voiding dysfunction. She has over 66 peer reviewed publications and has an ever-growing regional and national presence in FPMRS and urology due to her clinical expertise and unique ability to communicate with both patients and colleagues. She is an excellent role model for young and aspiring urologists and a worthy recipient of the MA-AUA Young Urologist of the Year Award!
Jesse D. Sammon, DO
New England Section
Maine Medical Partners Urology
Jesse D. Sammon, DO, Assistant Professor of Urology, specializing in Robotic surgery for cancers and benign disease of the kidney, ureter, bladder and prostate. Dr. Sammon is a former paratrooper who completed his undergraduate education while on active duty in the 82nd Airborne division, studying for his MCATs while on deployment during the major combat operations of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He graduated from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2009, and completed residency and fellowship in Urology and Robotic Urologic Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan in 2016. From 2014-2016 he was a fellow at Center for Surgery and Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, under the supervision of Quoc-Dien Trinh.
Dr. Sammon has published extensively on minimally invasive Urologic Oncology, comparative effectiveness and prostate cancer epidemiology. He has authored/co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles & book chapters and has presented at numerous national and international conferences.
A devoted husband and proud father of three, he actively studies ways to improve the patient centeredness of care and provides access to multidisciplinary, integrated care for Maine patients.
Nitya Abraham, MD
New York Section
Albert Einstein Medical College
Dr. Nitya Abraham is an Associate Professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Program Director for the Montefiore Urology residency program. She has mentored countless students, residents, fellows and junior faculty both at her institution and others in the New York region. She serves as the Chair of the Executive Curriculum Committee for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She has also served the AUA as an Oral Board Review Course faculty member and QIPS/MEP member. She is a member of the Society for Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine, and Urogenital Reconstruction (SUFU) Young Urologists Committee and social media committee. She is a prolific researcher with a clinical research focus on the impact of social determinants of health on pelvic floor health, has received funding from the US Department of Defense for urinary diagnostic markers of interstitial cystitis, and is also a co-author of the AUA White Paper on Rationale and Strategies for Reducing Urologic Post-Operative Opioid Prescribing.
Sarah Vij, MD
North Central Section
For significant contributions in the field of male infertility and andrology, including being the first female program director of a Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA) approved fellowship. Dr. Vij heads the prestigious Male infertility/Andrology fellowship at Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute where she has trained many residents and fellows in microsurgery with her characteristic skill and mentorship. In addition, Dr. Vij serves as an associate program director for the Urology Residency and is the Center Director for the Center of Male Fertility in the Department of Urology at Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Vij is an active educator for the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine medical students, running didactic sessions and journal clubs. She has authored almost 50 peer-reviewed publications, the majority in the field of male infertility and andrology. She is an active member of AUA, SSMR, SMRU, SMSNA and SWIU. Dr. Vij is an Assistant Professor of Urology in the Department of Urology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, specializing in male infertility and andrology.
Alexander J. Ernest, MD
Society of Government Service Urologists
Brooke Army Medical Center
COL Alexander J. Ernest has been a leader in Army Urology for many years. As a fellowship-trained laparoscopist, he has educated many residents at both Tripler Army Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center. As the Director of Surgical Simulation at Brooke Army Medical Center, he oversaw the Department of Defense’s largest simulation center. In that role, he developed and maintained the surgical readiness training protocol which prepares surgeons to deploy on a quarterly basis. He has played an active role in developing the Army and Department of Defense training milestones for preparing surgeons to deploy (known as ICTL’s and KSA’s, respectively). This is a large project of major significance to our nation’s security. Additionally, he served as the surgical subspecialty advisor to the Army’s Central Simulation Committee: the group charged with ensuring the development of simulation training protocols for combat readiness. He has continued to publish, with his most recent publication from June 2022. For the past year, he has been Chief of Urology at Brooke Army Medical Center.
Kerri Thurmon, MD
South Central Section
Denver Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine
Dr. Thurmon graduated from the University of Iowa Urology Residency in 2015. Since then, she has excelled in medical student education with appointment, in just four years, to Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, at the University of Kansas Medical Center. She is a certified professional Life Coach and mentors medical students and MDs in life management to prevent burnout. She is now at Denver Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine and continues to be involved with medical student and resident wellness. She has developed a national presence clinically and academically in BPH management with holmium enucleation and has published several papers in the field, speaks nationally and internationally, and proctors other clinicians.
Zachary Klaassen, MD
Medical College of Georgia
In recognition of his significant contributions to urologic oncology research and education. Dr. Klaassen is an Assistant Professor of Urology at the Medical College of Georgia where he also serves as the Director of Urologic Clinical Research, holds the Ronald W. Lewis Endowed Chair for Urologic Education, and serves as the Residency Program Director. He currently co-chairs the Young Urologic Oncologists Committee within the SUO. He is a prolific scientific communicator. He has received numerous peer-review awards from impactful journals including The Journal of Urology, European Urology, and Urologic Oncology. He co-hosts several episodes per month of an online Journal Club video series and is the current Digital Media Editor for European Urology.
Yahir Santiago- Lastra, MD
UC San Diego Health
Dr. Yahir Santiago-Lastra, is Director of UC San Diego Health's Pelvic Medicine Center, and has dedicated her career to the surgical treatment of a wide range of urogynecologic and pelvic floor conditions. She has largely focused on improving care delivery to underserved and marginalized patients experiencing pelvic floor disorders, including those who are impacted by neurogenic lower urinary tract dysfunction. Beyond the clinic and the operating room, Dr. Santiago-Lastra advocates on behalf of marginalized patients and in favor of health equity at the local, state, and nationwide level. Additionally, she works closely with students from underrepresented backgrounds and recently helped establish a University of California-wide longitudinal research mentorship program for medical students without a home Urology Residency program at their medical school. She was a member of the AUA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and represents the Society of Women in Urology in the AUA’s Public Policy Council.
Dr. Santiago-Lastra completed her residency training in Urology at the Harvard Program in Urology at Massachusetts General Hospital and a fellowship in Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Michigan.