Program Mission

Our mission at USC is to facilitate the transition from trainee to respected surgeon in the field of Minimally Invasive Surgery. We are dedicated to integrating the most cutting-edge technologies into our training curriculum, so our fellows leave with highly sought after skillsets in bariatric, foregut and general surgery.

Fellowship Overview

We train outstanding surgeons with clinical competence and excellent technical skills in all areas of foregut surgery, bariatric surgery and advanced endoscopy. We take pride in offering one of the most diverse clinical fellowships in the country, incorporating comprehensive training in bariatric surgery (including revisional cases), foregut surgery (both benign and malignant diseases), general MIS surgery (abdominal wall, solid organ and robotics) and advanced endoscopy. Our fellows have gone on to secure positions in prestigious academic medical centers and coveted community practices.

The USC Advanced GI MIS Fellowship Program is under the direct supervision of Dr. Caitlin Houghton. She is dedicated not only to refining surgical skills and clinical expertise for our fellows but also to personalizing each fellow’s experience, advancing them towards their personalized goals. She is the director of robotic surgery for Keck of USC and is highly regarded in the field as an educator and mentor in robotic and foregut surgery alike.

The operative experience is split between sites in Los Angeles and Orange County. At Keck of USC in Los Angeles, the fellows have a diverse operative experience with Drs Lipham, Houghton, Samakar, Putnam, Nguyen, Abel, Shiraga and Hawley. Keck is a designated bariatric center of excellence and provides patients with the most up to date options including bypass, sleeve, SADI and revisional surgery. The fellows also get exposure to a large number of advanced laparoscopic and robotic foregut procedures, including esophagectomy, gastrectomy, Heller myotomy, Paraesophageal hernia repair and Magnetic Sphincter Augmentation (LINX). We are often involved in clinical trials using the most innovative new technologies in the field. Minimally invasive general surgery and abdominal wall reconstruction procedures are also done predominately at KECK.

At the Orange County locations, we focus on skills required for building a complete foregut surgery practice. The fellows participate in the whole patient experience refining their clinical acumen, determining the appropriate work up and interpretation of studies required to consult patients on their surgical options. The surgical skills are focused on laparoscopic and robotic benign and malignant foregut pathologies. Endoscopic work-up, surveillance and treatment techniques are also acquired during this portion of the fellowship experience.

At USC, we have a strong research interest, and fellows and faculty members meet frequently to discuss current research projects. Past fellows have presented at both regional and national conferences. We have an active research fellow and multiple projects at different stages of development that also will involve the clinical fellows. The program supports fellows with conferences, publications, and academic positions after the fellowship.

USC values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity in employment. Men, women and members of all racial and ethnic groups are encouraged to apply.


Our Advanced GI MIS Fellowship is accredited by the Fellowship Council. We use their match system to accept applications and match with our fellows. The following link will direct you to the fellowship council application page:

    • S. citizens
    • S. permanent residents (Green Card)
    • We only accept graduates of U.S. or Canadian medical schools
    • Applicants must have passed the USMLE/COMLEX Step 1, 2 & 3 exams
    • Applicants must be ABS or Canadian Board eligible or certified
    • Applicants must be AOBS (American Osteopathic Board of Surgery) eligible or certified
  • Unfortunately, we do not accept candidates on an H1B Visa or foreign nationals (Canadian citizen candidature is dealt with on a case-by-case basis and is based on preliminary discussions). J-1 Visas are accepted in most cases. Full medical licensure in the state of California is a requirement. It usually takes at least six months to obtain the medical license, so it is important to start the application process early (soon after the fellow is matched).

Contact Information

Fellowship Coordinator

Ashley Ho

Division of Surgical Education
Keck School of Medicine of USC
1520 San Pablo Street, HCT 4300
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Program Director

Caitlin Houghton

Associate Program Director

Jimmy Nguyen