Program Overview

Training Program Director: Bret Taback, MD

Bret Taback, MDThe multidisciplinary breast surgery fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center is a one-year SSO approved fellowship for candidates who have completed a general surgery residency and are Board-eligible/Board-certified. The comprehensive fellowship provides in-depth exposure to all aspects of breast care, with the aim of training future leaders in the field of breast surgery. While the emphasis is on surgical oncology training, other core components of the program include clinical research as well as longitudinal multidisciplinary care.

The breast surgery rotations lasteight months and provide experience with both benign and malignant disease. There is a high volume of oncoplastic surgery, nipple-sparing mastectomies, sentinel node biopsy, as well as minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic techniques including ductoscopy. The fellow gains exposure to ablative therapies through IRB approved clinical trials including radiofrequency ablation, intraoperative radiation therapy, and laser ablation of cancers. There is a strong focus on minimally invasive diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, and the minimally invasive biopsy experience occurs both on the breast imaging rotation as well as on the breast surgery service. In addition ultrasound is used for intraoperative localization of lesions as well as for intraoperative ablative therapies. There is also exposure to a novel surgical technique for lymphedema prevention through lymphovenous anastomosis. With the breadth of conventional clinical experience as well as open trials involving new technologies, the fellow prepares for both a current breast surgery practice and also learns how to incorporate new techniques and technology into their practice in order to move the field forward.

Other rotations include medical oncology, radiation oncology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, pathology, and breast imaging. Throughout these rotations, the common thread is multidisciplinary treatment as well as gaining experience with enrolling patients in clinical trials. The biology of disease and personalization of adjuvant therapy is highlighted throughout the rotations. The fellow also attends sessions with genetics, psychooncology, and lymphedema therapists. The community outreach component gives the opportunity to interface with the greater NYC community (prior projects included outreach talks as well free mammography screening.) The fellow attends didactic sessions throughout the year, as well as journal clubs and multidisciplinary conferences. The weekly didactic program covers the BESAP curriculum as well as the ASBS wikitext chapters. The fellow runs our multidisciplinary tumor board, with prospective case presentations including imaging and pathology slides. National standards and current literature are discussed by the multidisciplinary treatment group.

Training takes place at the Columbia University Medical Center Campus, which is one of the oldest and largest medical institutions in the United States. The medical center is the teaching hospital for the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; consequently the fellow interacts with house officers of multiple specialties as well as medical students. The current facility, the Milstein Hospital Building, was built in 1989. It is a 708 bed hospital with 39 operating rooms. The location in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan brings a diverse patient population with benign disease, as well as early and advanced breast cancer. In addition, the fellow will rotate at Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, providing experience in a community hospital setting.

Research, Presentations, and Publications

The Breast Surgery Division is actively involved in research and promotes our fellow’s involvement in research projects. The fellow is required to submit at least 2 abstracts a year and at least one publication during the year. Recent fellow projects include lymphovenous anastomosis, ductal-lobular anatomy mapping, radiofrequency ablation, extending nipple-sparing mastectomy indications, and pleomorphic lobular carcinoma. All of our fellows from the last 5 years have worked together on projects with the residents and obtained funding from Department of Surgery start-up grants. Prior fellows have presented research at meetings of the Society for Surgical Oncology, American Society of Breast Surgeons, ASCO Breast, and the Herbert Irving Cancer Center retreat. The fellow also learns to evaluate scientific publications and to attend basic science and clinical research seminars.


The applicant must have completed his/her residency training in general surgery at an accredited program in the United States, must be Board eligible or Board-certified, and must possess a valid New York medical license at all times during the training program.

Fellowship Objectives

Columbia University Breast Surgery Fellowship is a Society of Surgical Oncology-approved training program. All applications must be established through the SSO Match Program. Please visit the Society for Surgical Oncology website for additional application information.

To Apply

Columbia University Breast Surgery Fellowship is a Society of Surgical Oncology-approved training program. All applications must be established through the SSO Match Program. Please visit the Society for Surgical Oncology website for additional application information.

Breast Surgery Faculty

Bret Taback, MD, FACS
Director of Research
Assistant Professor of Surgery

Contact Information

Training Program Director

Bret Taback, MD, FACS

Division Administrator

Charise Acevedo


Columbia University Medical Center
161 Fort Washington Avenue, Suite 1003
New York, NY 10032