About Dr. O'Hanlan (retired in 2021)

Dr. Kate O'Hanlan is a gynecologic oncologist whose research and publishing focus has been on the multiple applications of the minimally invasive approaches for hysterectomy and staging of the gynecologic cancers.

Dr. Kate O'Hanlan was born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, graduated from Duke University with BS degress in both zoology and psychology (body and mind). She studied medicine at the Medical College of Virginia, and did her residency training at Atlanta Medical Center. During her residency, she was mentored by Dr. Arnold Bernstein, who urged her to focus her career on cancer patients, using her surgical skills, and engaging her meticulous compassion and knowledgable care for the seriously ill cancer patient. She was accepted for one of thirty fellowships positions in Gynecologic Oncology, completing subspecialty training at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in 1986.

Dr. O’Hanlan then taught cancer surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, until 1990 and then at Stanford University until 1996. In 1992, she began developing her technique for Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy (TLH) and related cancer procedures that met all the surgical and oncologic standards she was trained to observe. She then published many journal articles confirming that patients benefited from much smaller incisions, with less pain, less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and much quicker returns to work than other patients treated using the traditional open technique.

Dr. O'Hanlan saw that laparoscopic technology could be used to perform nearly every benign and cancer gynecologic surgery, but even with such well-documented benefits, there was a slow uptake in the mainstream use of these procedures. She founded the Laparoscopic Institute for Gynecologic Oncology (LIGO) in 2006 with the goal of increasing physician utilization of these minimally invasive techniques. Since then LIGO courses focused entirely on teaching minimally invasive surgeries directly to surgeons, using both cadavers and pelvic simulators, and has trained over 2,600 surgeons from around the world. Find out about this year's LIGO course.

She has performed over 2,200 total and radical laparoscopic hysterectomies at her home hospital in Redwood City, and has taught these techniques at workshop sessions internationally for the Society for Gynecologic Oncologists and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, with 15 poster and video presentations, and 60 journal publications.

In 1986, Dr. O’Hanlan met Léonie Walker. They exchanged rings in 1987, had a ceremony in 1991, and were legally married in Canada in 2003. They celebrate 35 years this November at their home in Portola Valley. Kate plays tennis and Lé cycles for many hours each weekend. They like to SCUBA dive, travel and have friends over for grilled dinners at home.