Barnes and Washington U. spawned medical legend

October 26, 2010

Doctors don’t often become household names. That is unless they’ve discovered a disease or syndrome, like Alzheimer or Tourette. Maybe you

Evarts Graham in LIFE Magazine

can identify Christiaan Barnard as the first surgeon to perform a heart transplant, and you can probably name all the doctors on “Grey’s Anatomy.” But in real-life, doctors don’t often get famous.

In the medical world, though, some doctors become rock stars or legends. Washington University is home to at least one of those. Evarts A. Graham, MD, came to St. Louis from his hometown, Chicago, in 1919 to become the chairman of the department of surgery at Washing University School of Medicine and operate at the five-year-old Barnes Hospital.

Dr. Graham is known today as the “Father of Thoracic Surgery,” and developed procedures that became standard around the world. Although unconvinced at first of the connection between smoking and lung cancer, he later did landmark research on the topic. Ironically, he was a heavy smoker, himself, and eventually died of lung cancer.

 Today, Washington University thoracic surgeons carry on the legacy of Evarts A. Graham as pre-eminent lung cancer and lung transplant surgeons. G. Alexander Patterson, MD, currently holds the Evarts A. Graham Professorship of Surgery and is chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Washington University. Like Dr. Graham, he is known as an innovator, having developed the gold standard double lung transplant procedure. Surgeons from around the globe come to study with Dr. Patterson and his colleagues.

And Washington University thoracic surgeons and pulmonologists still run a multi-disciplinary chest clinic – a concept originated by Dr. Graham.

Read this story telling how Dr. Graham’s bold decision in the middle of  a cancer operation made medical history. Written by Leora Horn, MD, and David H. Johnson, MD, it ran in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2008.

Posted by: Kathy Holleman

Category: Uncategorized

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