Tuesday, May 24, 2011

History highlights the impact of innovation on the future of pediatric surgery

Legendary pediatric surgeon and former long time Surgeon-in-Chief at Children’s NationalMedicalCenter, Judson G. Randolph, MD, gave the Robert E. Gross lecture at this week’s American Pediatric Surgical Association Annual Meeting. His talk, “Notes on the Early Development of Pediatric Surgery in the United States,” discussed pediatric surgery’s founding fathers, including pioneer, William E. Ladd, MD, long time Surgeon-in-Chief at Harvard who was the first to narrow his practice to the surgical care of infants and children.

Dr. Ladd was also a great teacher, and many of his trainees in Boston went on to revolutionize the pediatric surgical field. Chief among his protégés was the lecture’s namesake, Robert E. Gross, MD. As the first to successfully operate on the major vessels near the heart and the person who established the foundation for peripheral vascular surgery, Dr. Gross influenced pediatric surgery, but also cardiology and general surgery as well. He was “saving whole children who had never been saved before,” according to Dr. Randolph.

Dr. Randolph featured other major influences, including:
  • Lucian Leape, MD, who conceived the American Pediatric Surgical Association, and essentially brought the society into being.
  • Judah Folkman, MD, who helped bring the practice of research to the pediatric surgical specialty.
  • Kathryn Anderson, MD, the first woman and first pediatric surgeon elected president of the American College of Surgeons.
The core group of innovators and leaders in the early years of pediatric surgery all had ties to Dr. Ladd and Dr. Gross. Their training spread the culture of innovation in pediatric surgery to children’s hospitals around the country. This esteemed list of alumni includes Dr. Randolph himself--Children’s National was one of the first medical centers in the country to offer specialized training in pediatric surgery through its education and training program, which he led during his time here.

Later this week, the Institute will award the first-ever Sheikh Zayed Institute Award for Innovation in Pediatric Surgery to the most innovative abstract presented at the APSA Annual Meeting, in support of continued innovation in pediatric surgery practice.

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