Overview & History of UVA Surgery

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Overview & History of UVA Surgery

Statue - Thomas JeffersonThe University of Virginia had its beginning in the remarkably fertile mind of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson's political and scientific career encompassed many interests, concerns, and capabilities which lead to the logical culmination in the development of the University of Virginia.  Returning to Virginia after his Presidency, Jefferson concentrated much of his effort in developing a charter for and the establishment of the University of Virginia in 1818.  Dr. Robley Dunglison was recruited from England as the first Professor of the Medical School and arrived in 1825, roughly one month before the first students appeared on campus. Dr. Thomas Johnson was appointment in 1827 as "demonstrator  of anatomy and surgery" and was so listed in the 1831 catalog. He was elected "Professor of Anatomy and Surgery" in July of 1831. At that time, 158 students were enrolled in the University of which 38 were in the "Medical Department."

In 1886, the first "hospital" was opened in Charlottesville and known as "The Piedmont Hospital." In 1889, Dr. Paul Barringer became Professor of Surgery. Dr. Barringer foresaw the need for health facilities and worked diligently in fund raising and architectural planning for a modern hospital in Charlottesville. 1900 HospitalConstruction of the present University of Virginia Hospital started in 1900 and the first wing was completed in 1901 at a cost of approximately $50,000. In 1903, the south wing addition and, in 1907, the north wing addition of the original hospital were added. In 1907, Dr. Steven Hurt Watts became Professor of Surgery and Gynecology. Dr. Watts was the first chairman in the modern era of surgery at the University of Virginia. He had graduated from the Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1901 and received his surgical training under William Halsted. Dr. Watts headed the Department of Surgery and Gynecology for 21 years before he retired in 1928.

Dr. Edwin P. Lehman was Professor and Chair of Surgery from 1928 to 1953. During that period of time recruitment of faculty and continued expansion of the hospital progressed. In 1954, Dr. William H. Muller, who had trained at Johns Hopkins under Alfred Blalock, was recruited from UCLA to chair the department. During his tenure as chairman, the hospital and medical school essentially doubled West Complexin size with the addition of a new "multistory" building and library space within the Medical School. Dr. Muller's chairmanship at the University of Virginia culminated in his appointment as Vice-President for Health Affairs at which time he oversaw the building of the new present University of Virginia complex and the development of the Health Sciences Center. Dr. Muller was president of the American College of Surgeons in 1976.

In 1982, Dr. R. Scott Jones was recruited from Duke University as the Stephen H. Watts Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery. During Dr. Jones's Main Hospitaltenure continued growth and development occured in programs which had a record of excellence at the University including cardiothoracic, vascular, oncology, and general surgical with specific emphasis in gastrointestinal disease. Additionally, many new programs including the development of a Level I Trauma Center, critical care programs, solid organ transplantation, and endocrine surgery were developed and have continued to grow.

Dr. Irving Kron assumed the Chair of the Department on January 1, 2002. Dr. Kron received his General Surgical training at Maine Medical Center and Cardiac Surgical training at UVA. His laboratory has been funded by the NIH and the American Heart Association for fifteen years.

Dr. Jones was President of the American College of Surgeons from 2002 to 2003. Dr. Edward Laws, from the Department of Neurosurgery was President of the American College of Surgeons from 2006 to 2007.  Dr. Muller was president of the American College of Surgeons in 1976, making UVA one of the few academic centers in the world to have three faculty members serve as president of the College.

Currently thHospital skyviewe Department of Surgery recruits five categorical residents for a five year program which includes the options for two additional years in the research laboratories. The Department of Surgery currently has seven divisions; Cardiothoracic,  Vascular Surgery, General Surgery, Surgical Oncology, Pediatric SurgeryTransplant Surgery, and Trauma/Acute Care Surgery.  The Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery offers two residency positions each year. Additionally, fellowships are available in Transplant Surgery, Laparoscopic Surgery, Surgical Critical Care, and Vascular Surgery. All faculty members are full-time faculty on tenure tracks with interests both in clinical research and bench research. All faculty hold joint appointments at the Salem VA Hospital and many are consultants in nearby regional hospitals including the Martha Jefferson Hospital and the Augusta Medical Center.