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Personal profile


Dr. Elster assumed the role of Dean on 3 May 2021.  The unique program has ranked among the top in the nation, and is the country’s only federal medical school. In this role, he leads the undergraduate medical education of more than 680 uniformed medical students and more than 340 civilian and military graduate students each year. 


CAPT Elster was the Chair and Norman M. Rich Professor of Surgery for the USU Department of Surgery and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and served from 2008 to 2021. He also served as the Director of the Surgical Critical Care Initiative, a joint military and civilian program developing clinical decision support tools for critically ill patients. He is a member of several key organizations including the American College of Surgeons (ACS), Society of University Surgeons, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the Southern Surgical Association, the Halsted Society, the Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons, the Association of Master Education and the American Surgical Association. He was the co-chair of the strategic partnership between the Military and the ACS, the Military Health System Strategic Partnership American College of Surgeons, focused on advancing a shared ethos, as well as the Inaugural President of the Excelsior Society. He has published over 200 scientific manuscripts in leading journals such as JAMA, Annals of Surgery, American Journal of Transplantation, and Science Translational Medicine, and has received numerous research grants across all aspects of surgery.


Dr. Elster received his undergraduate and medical school degrees from the University of South Florida as a recipient of the Navy’s Health Professionals Scholarship Program. Upon graduation as a GMO–SI Marine expeditionary unit, he completed a general surgery residency at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Dr. Elster served as ship’s surgeon aboard the USS Kitty Hawk while stationed in the Persian Gulf. Upon returning, he completed a solid organ transplantation fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. He was last deployed as a surgeon and director of Surgical Services at the NATO Role 3 Military Medical Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Education/Academic qualification

Organ Transplant Fellow, National Institutes of Health


Chief Resident, General Surgery, National Naval Medical Center


Residency, General Surgery, National Naval Medical Center


Internship, General Surgery, National Naval Medical Center


Doctor of Medicine, University of South Florida College of Medicine


BA Interdisciplinary Studies, Bachelor, University of South Florida, Tampa



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