Alireza Shamshirsaz, MD, FACOG

By: Celine Robins

Dr. Alireza Shamshirsaz

Award for Early Achievement

Alireza Shamshirsaz (09R–obstetrics and gynecology) ranks among the world’s foremost experts in fetal surgery and in the treatment of abnormally adherent placenta, a rare pregnancy complication also known as placenta accreta spectrum. He has pioneered novel surgical techniques for neural tube defects and twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, and he was part of the team that performed the first successful fetoscopic repair to treat spina bifida in the U.S. Shamshirsaz is board certified in OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine and an appointed reviewer of 22 medical journals. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed manuscripts in English language journals and 18 in Farsi. Shamshirsaz serves as director of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Care Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, part of Harvard Medical School.

Shamshirsaz’s interest in OB-GYN started with a desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. When Shamshirsaz decided to pursue OB-GYN himself, his father gave him valuable advice. 

“‘If you want to do OB-GYN, take care of all patients as if they are your mom or your sister,’” Shamshirsaz remembers his father saying. “And I have tried to do that.” 

During medical school at Tehran University in Iran, he was amazed to learn that fetal surgery was even possible. Now, he’s an expert in the field, and he looks forward to medical advances on the horizon. 

“Technology really gives us this chance to do more and more,” he says, and he lists robotic surgery and artificial intelligence as emerging innovations. “But we are the most important part because we are the brain of those programs. We are the people who … can push medicine forward.”


During his second year of residency training at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, he learned an important lesson from Jennifer Niebyl, MD, then the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Niebyl asked Shamshirsaz a question during clinic that he initially thought was meant to be a test of his knowledge—but the question was genuine. Niebyl suggested that the two of them look up the answer together in a textbook. 

“I was nobody, and she was the chair of the department. And she wrote that textbook!” he says. “What is the message? Even if you are the biggest person in the field, you need to be down to earth.”  

That experience taught him that to push forward in his career, he needed to stay humble and continue learning. 

These days Shamshirsaz feels his mission is to pass along his knowledge to the next generation of fetal surgeons in the U.S. and internationally. He established and still leads the first fetal intervention and surgery training program in Iran. His advice to OB-GYN students is to focus their efforts on one or two areas of expertise, and “never quit.” 

“The path that you chose is an incredible path,” he says. There is lots of dedication and there is lots of sacrifice, but you will change people’s lives and futures.”