Eric Elster


Captain, Navy

Department of Primary Appointment:
School of Medicine
Chair, USU Walter Reed Surgery
Location: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
Research Interests:
Clinical Decision Support
Office Phone


University of South Florida College of Medicine, MD 1991 - 1995
University of South Florida (Honors Program), BA Interdisciplinary Studies 1987 - 1991
National Naval Medical Center, General Surgery
Internship 1995 - 1996
Resident in General Surgery 1997 - 2001
Chief Resident, General Surgery 2001 - 2002
National Institutes of Health, Organ Transplant Service
Transplant Fellow 2003 - 2005


Dr. Elster received his undergraduate and medical school degrees from the University of South Florida in Tampa as a recipient of the U.S. Navy’s Health Professionals Scholarship Program. Upon graduation, Dr. Elster 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, Dr. Elster completed a solid organ transplantation fellowship at the National Institutes of Health and then was stationed at the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, MD, where he directed a translational research program focused on the development of improved diagnostics and therapies for serious traumatic injuries, transplantation and advanced operative imaging. CAPT Elster now serves as the 3rd Chairman and Professor of the Department of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences & the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a department which includes 89 staff surgeons across all surgical specialties, 135 surgical residents and fellows, and supports 170 medical students per year (of which 40 last year matriculated in surgical residency programs). This robust academic department has a research portfolio across the spectrum of surgery with peer review funding from DoD and the NIH and publishes more than 250 papers per year in high-impact journals. Dr. Elster is also the Director of the Surgical Critical Care Initiative, a joint military and civilian program developing clinical decision support tools for critically ill patients. Dr. Elster was last deployed as a surgeon and Director of Surgical Services at the NATO Role 3 Military Medical Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Dr. Elster is a member of several key organizations including a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Society of University Surgeons, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the Southern Surgical Association, the Halsted Society and the American Surgical Association. Dr. Elster is 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. Dr. Elster and has published over 150 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.