Michael Campbell joined UC Davis Health System in 2013 as its first fellowship-trained endocrine surgeon, and specializes in the evaluation and management of patients with thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal and pancreas disorders. Examples include goiters, thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, Graves’ disease, hyperparathyroidism and adrenal tumors (such as adrenal cortical cancer, pheochromocytomas, aldosteronomas and Cushing’s syndrome). He is an expert in minimally invasive parathyroid and thyroid surgery as well as complex laparoscopic adrenal and pancreas surgery, and offers a wide range of unique services.

Q. What sparked your interest in endocrine surgery, and why did you choose it as a career focus?

A. I have always felt that careers are more inspired than chosen. Early in training, I was very fortunate to have worked with some of the nation’s most respected endocrine surgeons and they inspired me to follow in their footsteps. Most importantly, they taught me that endocrine surgery is a challenging mix of both malignant and benign disease that requires experience to diagnose and meticulous surgical care to cure.

Q. Can you describe your role in the spectrum of multidisciplinary endocrine care and research at UC Davis?

A. Endocrine tumors require a multidisciplinary team of specialists including surgeons, endocrinologists, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists. Unlike other specialties that are defined by an anatomic location, endocrine surgery involves the management of multiple hormone- secreting organs, which can be located throughout the body. This allows me to cross the traditional boundaries of medical care and work with a wide range of medical professionals.

Q. What range of patients do you serve in terms of level of care, acuity and complexity?

A. Endocrine tumors can be incredibly complex to diagnose and treat. Many endocrine disorders are considered “zebras” in the medical world. They include pancreatic insulinomas, pheochromocytomas, and medullary thyroid cancer. These are the patients I am trained to take care of and who fill my clinic. We provide patients with tertiary care in the Sacramento region that other-wise would be found only in major metropolitan areas, so they have the convenience of staying close to home.

Q. How do you participate in cancer care here?

A. I perform surgery on tumors of the thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas and adrenal glands. Endocrine cancers are odd tumors. They can act in an indolent or aggressive fashion. They can run in families and develop at a young age. Furthermore, many endocrine tumors are not actually cancers, and instead benign tumors that secrete hormones that lead to a host of debilitating symptoms. As a member of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center my patients have access to the vast resources of the UC Davis Health System. They benefit from a multi-disciplinary team of experts that can provide the expertise needed to get them on the road to recovery.

Q. What are your research interest areas, and some recent highlights and plans?

A. I conduct a wide range of research on endocrine disorders. I am working with colleagues in the Department of Radiology to study imaging of rare adrenal tumors. We hope to understand how these tumors grow and better characterize which need to be removed. I have several projects in collaboration with the Department of Pathology looking at better ways to interpret biopsy results on patients with thyroid nodules. More recently, I have been working with colleagues in biomedical engineering to develop technology to improve the safety of thyroid surgery.

We provide patients with tertiary care in the Sacramento region that otherwise would be found only in major metropolitan areas, so they have the convenience of staying close to home.


Q. What are some key trends in the disease sector and in the field? What’s new and on the horizon, and how is this coming into play at UC Davis?

A. We know that thyroid nodules are fairly common and most are benign and non-bothersome. Sometimes when we biopsy a thyroid nodule we can’t tell if it is benign or malignant. These patients have traditionally had to undergo a thyroid surgery. There has been a national push to look at the genetics of thyroid nodules toavoid a surgery in many patients. At UC Davis we use such technologies to give our patients viable options as opposed to surgery.

The next big step in endocrine surgery is using technology to improve a surgeon’s visualization of key anatomy in the operating room. This will allow surgeons to see potential trouble prior to it occurring. At UC Davis we are working on this technology to help surgeons perform surgery more safely and with more efficiency.