The Team

Meet the team of surgeons and researchers who designed OpTrust.

Gurjit Sandhu, PhD

Associate Professor of Surgery and Learning Health Sciences & Vice Chair of Resident Professional Development – Michigan Medicine

Dr. Gurjit Sandhu is a faculty member in the Department of Surgery. Dr. Sandhu completed her B.A. in 1996 from the University of British Columbia, Canada and earned her PhD in 2006 from Queen’s University, Canada. She was the Educational Developer for Postgraduate Medical Education at Queen’s University before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan in November 2013. Dr. Sandhu’s research concentrates on progressive entrustment and graduated autonomy in surgical education. More broadly, her work focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning, specifically looking at professional education, teaching methods and assessment. Dr. Sandhu also uses her strengths as a qualitative researcher to support her work on social accountability in medical education, health equity and disparities, and global health.

Rebecca Minter, MD, FACS

A.R. Curreri Distinguished Chair, Department of Surgery – University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Dr. Minter is certified by the American Board of Surgery. Her clinical practice is focused in the areas of pancreatobiliary and gastrointestinal surgery. She has a particular interest in the management and treatment of benign and neoplastic diseases of the pancreas. Dr. Minter is recognized as a clinical leader in her field and presently serves as the President of the Americas Hepatopancreatobiliary Association, current Chair of the International Hepatopancreatobiliary Association Education and Training Committee, and is an Associate Editor of the journal HPB. Dr. Minter’s research efforts are primarily focused within the domain of surgical education. This work is focused on the development of training frameworks which explicitly define progressive entrustment and the development of autonomy. Dr. Minter holds national leadership positions in multiple societies in recognition of her work in the field of surgical education and academic surgery, and is the immediate past President of the Society of University Surgeons and the Fellowship Council.

Janet C. Dombrowski, MHSA – JCD Advisors

Janet Dombrowski spent nearly 20 years as a senior strategy leader in various consulting organizations and large health systems, after an early career in healthcare delivery and operations. Janet’s coaching and consulting work today is exclusively focused on supporting Csuite executives in becoming more intentional about their leadership presence, their contribution to organizational culture, and the importance of aligning in strategy, structure, and culture for optimal performance. She has worked with senior executives and physician leaders and their teams in academic medical centers, national faith-based health systems, regional integrated delivery systems, community hospitals, and health centers. She has additional experience in higher education and non-profit social service organization. Janet received her Master in Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan, where she remains active as the chair of the Alumni Board and as an adjunct faculty member. Janet has additional certifications from the Harvard Program on Negotiation, Wisdom Works in Transformational Coaching and other certifications in culture shaping and a variety of leadership assessments. She also received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Michigan.

Vahagn C. Nikolian, MD

Assistant Professor of Surgery Division of Gastrointestinal and General Surgery, School of Medicine – Oregon Health and Sciences University

Dr. Vahagn Nikolian is a board-certified General Surgeon with advanced training and expertise in abdominal wall reconstruction. Dr. Nikolian attended medical school and graduated with honors from the University of Southern California. He completed his surgical residency at the University of Michigan. He completed his complex abdominal wall reconstruction fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, where he mastered techniques in minimally invasive and robotic hernia repair and abdominal wall reconstruction. His research and commentaries have been published in several prominent journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association and Annals of Surgery. To date, he has over 60 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters focused on general surgery, resident education, and digital health. He has received numerous national awards as well as funding from the National Institutes of Health and other surgical societies.

Danielle Sutzko, MD, MS

Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine
Associate Program Director, Vascular Surgery Integrated Residency
– University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Sutzko was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and grew up in California, North Carolina and Florida before moving to Michigan for her vascular surgery residency. She received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida, graduating with a degree in microbiology and cell science with a minor in chemistry. She went on to attend medical school at the University of South Florida, graduating Alpha Omega Alpha. During her research time, Dr. Sutzko completed a post-doctoral health services research fellowship at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation under a National Heart and Lung & Blood Institute T32 grant, where Dr. Nicholas Osborne served as her primary mentor. Her research interests are in health services research, specifically areas related to quality improvement and cost effectiveness of vascular interventions. She also has a passion for education and educational research and has been an active member of the OpTrust research team investigating intraoperative teaching and advancing operative autonomy.

Niki Matusko, MS

Senior Statistician – Michigan Medicine

Niki is a senior statistician and currently provides statistical consultation, interpretation, and analysis to surgery residents across the Department of Surgery and their faculty mentors. Prior to this, Niki was a Research Area Specialist Senior for the Research Center for Group Dynamics (RCGD) within the Institute for Social Research (ISR). During her time at the Institute, Niki developed analytic strategies/plans for NIH R, P, and K series grants, conducted numerous analyses, prepared and managed data for public release, and co-authored manuscripts with have been successfully published in high impact journals. She also brings expertise in health equity and diversity as they relate to patient oriented outcomes. Niki comes to the ERSC with over 17 years of experience in both private and public sectors and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Julie Evans

Senior Research Associate – Michigan Medicine

Julie is a research specialist with a background in qualitative research in social and behavioral psychology. Before joining ERSC, she worked as a research assistant in the van Anders Social Neuroendocrinology Lab at the University of Michigan. She conducted research on the social modulation of testosterone; exploring the social phenomenology of testosterone as well as intimacies like sexuality, nurturance, and partnering/pair bonding. Her academic research focused on gender, sex, and sexual diversity informed by biological expansiveness and by lived experiences. Currently, Julie is collaborating with the ERSC on several studies, including: OpTrust entrustment research, gender parity in academic surgery, and surgeon and trainee wellness. Julie received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and is currently completing her Master’s degree in health psychology. Julie is energized to be furthering her career as a health and social science researcher with the ERSC by advancing surgical education that serves to better surgeons and patients for generations to come.