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David I. Soybel, M.D.

Office Information

Penn State Hershey Surgical Specialties
General Surgical & Surgical Oncology
200 Campus Drive, Entrance 4, Suite 3100
Hershey, PA 17033
Tel: 800-243-1455 / 717-531-5272 Fax: 717-531-0884


General Surgery Surgical Oncology

Patient Services Provided

Abdominal Hernia Surgery and Abdominal Wall Reconstruction Laparoscopic Procedures Gastrointestinal Surgery Peptic Ulcer Disease Pancreatitis Congenital conditions of the GI tract in adults Show all patient services »

Practice Locations

Biographical Information

Dr. Soybel  is currently the David L. Nahrwold Professor  in the Departments of Surgery and Cellular & Molecular Physiology (Hershey) and Nutrition Sciences (University Park). He serves as Division Chief, General Surgery Specialties and Surgical Oncology. He also serves as Vice-Chairman for Research in the Department of Surgery at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.  Dr. Soybel received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Chicago.  He completed a Residency in General Surgery and Research Fellowship in Gastrointestinal Physiology and Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  Before coming to Penn State in 2011, Dr. Soybel held appointments as Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Senior Staff Surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.  To date, he has co-authored over 160 original reports and review articles, focusing on conditions of the gastrointestinal system and the abdominal wall, and their surgical management. Dr. Soybel serves on a number of Editorial Boards and is Editor-in-Chief of Up-To-Date (Surgery).

Professional Education

Residency, General Surgery, Washington University - St. Louis (1987) Residency, General Surgery, Barnes Hospital (1984) M.D., University of Chicago-Pritzker School of Medicine (Illinois) (1982)

Research Interests

A substantial component of my clinical practice focuses on complex surgical conditions of the stomach and intestines, and abdominal wall hernias. The goal of our research program is to improve the way patients are prepared before complex abdominal operations, in order to reduce complications and optimize recovery and healing. Current research projects include:

Clinical studies of patients undergoing complex abdominal wall hernia surgery. Many of our patients are in suboptimal health, or have been rendered frail, from prolonged periods of illness in conjunction with longstanding medical conditions diabetes, obesity, sleep disorder or depression and risk factors such as tobacco use. Such conditions create chronic stress on the body and our work is directed at understanding how such stress leads to chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and nutritional imbalances and how these biologic responses in turn influence healing and convalescence after major abdominal surgery. Specific areas of intervention include nutrition, sleep, pain, activity and exercise, and use of nutraceutical agents (specific micronutrients such as zinc or anti-inflammation dietary supplements) to improve the response to chronic stress.

Experimental studies in our laboratory focus on the role of micronutrient imbalance in recovery from abdominal infections and operations. We utilize rodent models to understand how the body manages its stores of zinc, a mineral and micronutrient, in recovery from peritonitis and abscess formation, or experimental models of major abdominal operations. Tissue culture models are utilized in order to study how demand and intracellular distribution of zinc is managed in macrophages, cells that are critical to the schedule of healing. A current area of active study is the role played by genetic variation in zinc transport processes in the response of the macrophage and the whole animal in the response to major surgical illness or operations.

Academic Interests

Dr. Soybel has written and given presentations on a variety of subjects in gastrointestinal surgery and topics of general interest in academic medicine. Recent presentations include medical and surgical management of peptic ulcer disease, pre-operative evaluation and preparation of patients undergoing abdominal wall repair of complex hernia, and the role of micronutrient imbalance in recovery and healing from peritonitis and major abdominal surgery. Dr. Soybel has also written on topics related to the education and training of medical students and residents in general surgery. In the past, Dr. Soybel has served on study sections of the Veterans Health Administration Medical Research Service and for the National Institutes of Health.


Vemela PK, Kohler JE, Blass A, Williams M, Xu C, Chen L, Jadhav SR, John G, Soybel DI, Karp JM.
Self-assembled hydrogel fibers for sensing the multi-compartment intracellular milieu.
Sci Rep 2014 Mar 12;4:4362.
Geletzke AK, Rinaldi JM, Phillips BE, Mobley SB, Miller J, Dykes T, Hollenbeak C, Kelleher SL, Soybel DI.
Prevalence of systemic inflammation and micronutrient imbalance in patients with complex abdominal hernias.
J Gastrointest Surg. 2014 Apr;18(4):646-55.
Kelly E, Mathew J, Kohler JE, Blass AL, Soybel DI.
Hemorrhagic shock and surgical stress alter distribution of labile zinc within high- and low-molecular-weight plasma fractions.
Shock. 2012 Aug;38(3):314-9.
Matsushima K, Soybel DI.
Operative management of recurrent choledocholithiasis.
J Gastrointest Surg. 2012 Dec;16(12):2312-7.
Soybel DI.
Operative notes do not reflect reality in laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
Br J Surg. 2011 Oct;98(10):1436. Commentary on Br J Surg 2011; 98: 1431-1436.

Honors and Awards

2011 - David L. Nahrwold Professor of Surgery, Penn State Hershey School of Medicine 2008, 2009, 2010 - Awards for Outstanding Teaching in Core Surgery Clerkships, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School 2006 - Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Association for Surgical Education 1999-2000 - President, Association for Academic Surgery 1990 - Alpha Omega Alpha, Washington University School of Medicine