Meet Craig Peters, MDSheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation and Urology

Craig Peters, MD, is the chief of Surgical Technology and Translation and Principal Investigator in the bioengineering initiative at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. He joined Children’s National in 2010, and says one area of his job that he is most passionate about is robotic surgery. He recognizes that it brings the potential for significantly reduced pain in surgical patients, shorter hospital stays, faster return to normal daily activities, and the potential for better clinical outcomes. “Robotics in medicine was not originally conceived for use in the everyday OR,” said Dr. Peters. “Interestingly, these technologies were initially developed in the hopes that remote surgery could be performed in far away locations where surgeons aren’t available, like battlefields or even in space.” Dr. Peters has brought his passion for robotic surgery a little closer than deep space: he’s brought it to Children’s National.

Children’s National acquired a da Vinci® Surgical System with the support of the Sheikh Zayed Institute, and Dr. Peters with his multi-disciplinary team began performing pediatric robotic surgical procedures late last year. “Robotic surgery has been my passion for the last eight or nine years of my work in minimally invasive surgery in urology,” said Dr. Peters. “The potential exists for robotic technology to improve surgery for children through better visualization, manipulation of tissues, and access to small areas. The Sheikh Zayed Institute provides unparalleled opportunities and resources to lead a paradigm shift in surgery toward greater precision and better outcomes.”

He has extensive experience with developing minimally-invasive surgical techniques, including robot-assisted procedures, treatment of pediatric urologic problems, and has conducted NIH-funded research in urinary obstruction, vesicoureteral reflux, and bladder dysfunction. As part of Children’s Division of Urology, he specializes in infants, children, and adolescents needing surgery from illnesses of the genitourinary tract. Prior to joining Children’s, Dr. Peters was chief of the Division of Pediatric Urology at the University of Virginia. Dr. Peters completed his medical education at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and completed pediatric urology and surgical fellowships at Boston Children’s Hospital through Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.

“Dr. Peters is an important part of our growing team of surgeons, researchers, and engineers that is coming together to transform children’s surgery,” said Kurt Newman, President and CEO, Children’s National Health System.

He honed his skills at some of the most prestigious medical institutions in the country but the people and the practice here at Children’s National have left a lasting impression on him. “There are only a few places in the world that are set up to really innovate surgical care in pediatrics. Children's, through the Sheikh Zayed Institute, is one of them,” said Dr. Peters. “I've traveled all over the world, and there is no place else like Children's National; the people are enthusiastic, bright and eager to improve care for children.”

Dr. Peters works as park of the da Vinci® robot surgical team, which he describes as “absolutely incredible.” He noted that from the moment the team, led by Jennifer Coker Yin, began training they were working together as a well-oiled machine. “They were so well trained and so enthusiastic that we have been able to jump right in and handle any and all robotic surgery cases more quickly than any team I've worked with in my 10 years in pediatric robotic surgery.”

What excites him the most is how patients and their families are benefiting from the efficiency and high quality care of the robotic surgery initiative. “I hope that we are able to use the OR technology today, like the da Vinci® robot, as a springboard for newer, better, more efficient surgical tools in the future,” said Dr. Peters. “Today, families who have robotic surgery can take their children home sometimes within one to two days. What if every major surgery had a recovery time like that?”

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