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Surgical Oncology Program »  Meet the Team »  Surgical Oncology »  Ajay V. Maker M.D. FACS, FSSO
Ajay V. Maker, M.D. FACS, FSSO

Ajay V. Maker, M.D. FACS, FSSO

  • Professor of Surgery
  • Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology
  • Maurice Galante Distinguished Professor in Surgical Oncology

Contact Information

Academic Office:
550 16th Street, 6th floor, room 6450
Box 0144 | University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94143
Voice (415) 514-3891
Fax (415) 353-9695
Clinical Appointments:
Bakar Precision Cancer Medicine Building
1825 Fourth St.
Fourth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 502-5577
Fax: (415) 502-2236
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  • Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, A.B.(honors) Biology and Fine Arts/Visual Arts
  • Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, M.D.(honors)
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, Internship and Residency in General Surgery
  • National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute,
  • Surgery Branch, Bethesda, MD, Post-doctorate in Tumor Immunology
  • National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, Surgical Oncology Fellowship
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, Surgical Oncology Fellowship
  • University of Paris V, Institut Mutualiste Montsouris, Minimally Invasive HPB Surgery Visiting Fellow
  • American Board of Surgery, General Surgery
  • Surgical Oncology Clinics, including the Gastrointestinal Oncology Clinic, Liver/pancreas/biliary and soft tissue sarcoma/skin cancer clinics: Mission Bay and Parnassus
  • Hepatobiliary and Pancreas Surgery Program
  • UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Sarcoma Disease Program
  • Melanoma/Skin Cancer Disease Program
  • Development of biosignatures to guide surgical treatment of pancreatic cancer and pancreatic cysts (IPMN/MCN)
  • Development of novel immunotherapeutics for metastatic GI cancer, including colorectal liver metastases
  • Immunotherapies for Cancer
  • Novel treatments for liver metastases, including colorectal liver metastases

Dr. Ajay V. Maker is a surgical oncologist and chief of the UCSF Division of Surgical Oncology. He is an expert in surgically treating complex gastrointestinal and hepatopancreatobiliary diseases (those affecting the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts), as well as melanomas and sarcomas.

Maker's research aims to improve early detection of pancreas cancer and to develop new therapies for treating metastases (cancers that have spread from a primary site in the body). Under grants awarded by the Department of Defense and National Institutes of Health (NIH), he works on designing novel immunotherapies (treatments that harness the immune system to fight tumors), particularly for liver metastases from colon cancer. He is one of only a few surgeons to receive the NIH MERIT award and U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity Cancer Impact Award. 

Maker earned his medical degree at Yale School of Medicine. He completed a residency in general surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. He trained in surgical oncology at the NIH and completed postdoctoral studies in tumor immunology at the National Cancer Institute; this research included working in trials that led to the Food and Drug Administration approval of Ipilimumab as a new treatment for metastatic melanoma. He later completed a fellowship in surgical oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and then gained experience in minimally invasive surgical techniques at the University of Paris. He came to UCSF from his hometown of Chicago, where he was a tenured professor of surgery and of microbiology and immunology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In 2015, Maker was the European Society of Surgical Oncology's international traveling fellow and was later honored with the Society of Surgical Oncology's Clinical Investigator Award. He has published more than 170 manuscripts, abstracts and book chapters, and he lectures all over the world. He serves on the editorial boards of many surgical and scientific journals; serves on NIH study sections, which evaluate the merit of proposed research; and has held leadership positions in numerous academic and scientific societies, including program chair of the Americas Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association and chair of the Society of Surgical Oncology's gastrointestinal working group. He is also active in various medical societies, including the Surgical Biology Club , Western Surgical Association, American Society of Clinical Oncology and Pancreas Club. He has been named numerous times to Castle Connolly's Top Doctors and Top Doctors for Cancer lists. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and Society of Surgical Oncology.


"I feel humbled and privileged to be able to take care of people in their time of need. I have known that cancer surgery was my calling since I was a child rounding in the hospital with my father, and have dedicated my career to providing highly skilled and compassionate care. This is my passion - to help make you feel better."

Dr. Maker graduated from Brown University with honors in fine arts and biology, completing his honors thesis in the NASA-funded lab of Dr. Herman Vandenberg in tissue engineering. Thereafter, he enrolled in the Yale School of Medicine and was selected to enter the Basic Science Research Training Fellowship where he was awarded the ADA Medical Scholars Award and the AAS/Novartis Research Award for his work in the R01-funded lab of surgeon Dana Andersen on elucidating mechanisms of pancreatogenic diabetes. He completed his general surgery residency at Harvard University's Brigham and Women's Hospital and a tumor immunology post-doctorate fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Steven Rosenberg in the Surgery Branch of the NIH/NCI, during which time he was first author on many of the initial phase I/II trials utilizing anti-CTLA4 antibodies. This work was later honored with the "most cited article" award by the Society of Surgical Oncology.

Dr. Maker went on to complete surgical oncology fellowships at the NCI and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he continued translational bench research in the Ludwig Cancer Institute in the labs of Jim Allison and Jed Wolchok, funded, in part, by an ASCO Merit Award and an NCI EDRU U01. He has focused the efforts of his research career on expanding the role of immunotherapy for gastrointestinal tumors and has aligned his clinical practice to coincide with his research interests. His NCI/NIH and DoD-funded research program has identified an immunostimulatory cytokine capable of activating and supporting the proliferation of antigen-specific T-cells to incite an anti-tumor immune response in colorectal liver metastases. This strategy is currently being investigated in combination with oncolytic viruses and immune checkpoint blockade to elicit complete tumor responses. This work has been funded over time as PI by internal funding, the Warren and Clara Cole Foundation of the ACS, the NIH through both K08 and UL1 mechanisms, the DoD (Cancer Impact Award), R37 MERIT from the NCI, and the Society of Surgical Oncology (Investigator of the Year Award).

Dr. Maker's lab also investigates novel drug combinations that stimulate immunogenic cell death and generate anti-tumor immune responses to treat GI tumor liver metastases. As part of these studies, Dr. Maker has developed multiple unique orthotopic animal models in which to study solid organ metastases that has led to multiple federally funded collaborations, including work on the novel Oncopig porcine large animal cancer model for liver and pancreatic cancer.

Furthermore, Dr. Maker has been a leader in the international IPMN biomarkers research group, and has developed a gene signature to predict malignancy in IPMN from pancreatic cyst fluid. He houses the international IPMN cyst fluid repository, one of the largest biobanks of its kind, for which he serves as the international PI. With this collaborative, he is currently validating a single-platform
biosignature to accurately predict the malignant potential of pancreatic cysts.

Finally, as a clinical surgeon with a passion for developing new laparoscopic and robotic techniques in complex surgical oncology, he has also maintained a robust clinical database from which multiple techniques papers and outcomes studies have been generated along with his residents.

Data provided by UCSF Profiles, powered by CTSI
  • Stimulating Lymphocyte Activation Combined with Inhibition of Immunosuppressive Signals in Colon Cancer Metastases
    Sponsor ID:
    Funding Period:
    Jan 2020
    Dec 2024
    Principal Investigator
  • Enhancing anti-tumor immune responses in colon cancer metastases
    Sponsor ID:
    Funding Period:
    Sep 2014
    Aug 2020
    Principal Investigator
Data provided by UCSF Profiles, powered by CTSI
  1. Wong P, Victorino GP, Miraflor E, Alseidi A, Maker AV, Thornblade LW. Impact of safety-net hospital burden on achievement of textbook oncologic outcomes following resection in for stage I-IV colorectal cancer. J Surg Oncol. 2023 Oct 10. View in PubMed
  2. Ashraf Ganjouei A, Romero-Hernandez F, Wang JJ, Casey M, Frye W, Hoffman D, Hirose K, Nakakura E, Corvera C, Maker AV, Kirkwood KS, Alseidi A, Adam MA. ASO Visual Abstract: A Machine-Learning Approach to Predict Postoperative Pancreatic Fistula after Pancreaticoduodenectomy Using only Preoperatively Known Data. Ann Surg Oncol. 2023 Nov; 30(12):7776-7777. View in PubMed
  3. Ashraf Ganjouei A, Romero-Hernandez F, Wang JJ, Casey M, Frye W, Hoffman D, Hirose K, Nakakura E, Corvera C, Maker AV, Kirkwood KS, Alseidi A, Adam MA. A Machine Learning Approach to Predict Postoperative Pancreatic Fistula After Pancreaticoduodenectomy Using Only Preoperatively Known Data. Ann Surg Oncol. 2023 Nov; 30(12):7738-7747. View in PubMed
  4. Calthorpe L, Romero-Hernandez F, Casey M, Nunez M, Conroy PC, Hirose K, Kim A, Kirkwood K, Maker AV, Corvera C, Nakakura E, Alseidi A, Adam MA. ASO Visual Abstract: National Practice Patterns in Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma-Updates in Management and Survival. Ann Surg Oncol. 2023 Aug; 30(8):5131. View in PubMed
  5. Wiley MB, Bauer J, Mehrotra K, Zessner-Spitzenberg J, Kolics Z, Cheng W, Castellanos K, Nash MG, Gui X, Kone L, Maker AV, Qiao G, Reddi D, Church DN, Kerr RS, Kerr DJ, Grippo PJ, Jung B. Non-Canonical Activin A Signaling Stimulates Context-Dependent and Cellular-Specific Outcomes in CRC to Promote Tumor Cell Migration and Immune Tolerance. Cancers (Basel). 2023 May 31; 15(11). View in PubMed
  6. View All Publications


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