Womack Surgical Society: History and Mission

WomackFollowing Dr. Nathan Womack’s term as Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, which ended in 1966, he continued to be active in the Department under the new leadership of Dr. Colin G. Thomas, Jr. Several months after Dr. Womack’s resignation, a number of individuals, some from the faculty of the university, some from other faculties, and others in the practice of surgery- all having been influenced by Dr. Nathan Womack- felt that the creation of an organization honoring Dr. Womack would be appropriate. Accordingly, an organizational meeting was held in Chapel Hill on November 14, 1969. The charge devised for the group was to create a society that would be unique among the many professional organizations to which all belonged. The society was to provide, among other things, “(1) an opportunity to renew the strong friendships with colleagues formed during residency training years, (2) a worthwhile educational opportunity and a readily available forum for former residents, (3) an opportunity to meet current members of the training program and the house staff of previous eras, and (4) an appropriate way to honor Dr. Nathan Womack.” An endowment for the Womack Scholarship Award was established at this meeting (vide infra).

Officers elected at this time were as follows: President, Dr. Robert Zeppa; Secretary, Dr. Paul Biggers; and Program Chairman, Dr. John Foust. The society then lay dormant for approximately eighteen months until the next meeting, which was held January 25-27, 1973. The meeting began with a cocktail reception on Thursday evening, held at the old Chapel Hill Country Club on Country Club Road, near the Institute of Government. Dr. Womack himself sponsored this event, since he was a member of the Chapel Hill Country Club. Many members of the medical faculty and University community not related to the Department of Surgery were invited as guests. The honored guests included Dr. and Mrs. Reece Berryhill, Dr. and Mrs. Ed Hedgpeth, and Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Brinkhous.

The Carolina Inn was the headquarters hotel for the meeting, to which all who did not live in the nearby area repaired in preparation for the scientific session, which began on Friday morning. This scientific session was in room 107 of what was then called the Basic Medical Sciences Building. (This building has now been named Berryhill Hall.) The current residents in surgery - the 1973 initiates into the society - presented papers in the morning session, which was entitled “New Developments in Surgery.” In the afternoon, papers were presented from the membership covering all surgical specialties. A business meeting was then held late in the afternoon, at which time new officers were elected. Dr. John Foust was elected President, Dr. Peter Young was elected Vice president, Dr. Herbert Proctor was elected Secretary-Treasurer, and Dr. Clyde Potter was elected Sergeant-at-Arms. The Saturday morning scientific session included further scientific presentations, following which Dr. Womack gave the closing remarks.

Following the adjournment of the meeting, officers decided to set biennial meetings. The third meeting was therefore set for January 23-25, 1975, and was held with basically the same format as in 1973. All day Friday and Saturday morning were devoted to scientific sessions. New bylaws were considered and adopted, and additional officers were named to include both Junior and Senior Counselors, each of whom would serve a four-year term. The vice president was designated as the Program Chairman. It was felt that this provided some continuity among officers. The term of the Secretary-Treasurer was made six years. Dr. Peter Young was elected President, Dr. Samuel G. Jenkins was elected Vice President and Program Chairman, and Dr. Noel McDevitt was elected Seretary-Treasurer. Prior to the formal business meeting Dr. Nathan Womack spoke briefly to the members of the Society. He expressed his extreme pleasure about so many people returning for the meeting. There were approximately 120 members of the faculty, residents and former residents in attendance. He was also pleased with the quality of the papers that were presented during the sessions, and happy that both clinically oriented and research-related material had been stressed. Equal participation by surgeons in private practice and academic surgeons and the broad range of specialty representation in presentation and attendance were, were felt, essential. Dr. Womack stressed emphatically that surgeons must remain unified, and that programs in which all specialties participate must encourage informational exchange and promote unity. This had been a philosophy of the Department under his direction, continued with Dr. Thomas and the then – division chiefs; and it was Dr. Womack’s hope it would be maintained in the future. Dr. Womack stressed the importance of scientific applications to the art of medicine, and in particular referred to reports from chief residents presented during the 1975 meeting. He reminded the older members of the Society that they would be in a constant race to keep up with the younger members.

Dr. Womack also congratulated Dr. Colin G. Thomas, Jr., for the superb work that he had done as chairman of the department of surgery and suggested that the quality of the department could best be judged by the quality of its residents, whom he complimented on their excellence.

Finally, Dr. Womack complimented the society on its uniqueness in bringing together physicians who had shared common interests. He said that he detected a spirit of homecoming on the part of all who attended, and even more, he detected a spirit of stewardship, these attributes, coupled with an earnest desire on thee part of each individual trained in the Department of Surgery to continue to strive for excellence that began during training, typified the character of the society and each surgeon trained in Chapel Hill. The character of the society was, he felt, infectious, and he urged us to continue to stress the elements of surgical excellence, integrity, and continuing education. He was thankful for having been honored by having the Society named after him, but cautioned that the society should continue to grow and that it would adopt the attributes of those who occupied positions of leadership in the department of surgery in coming years. He stressed that we should welcome those leaders, support them, and make them cognizant that it is the shoulders of the former faculty and residents of the Department of Surgery upon which each new person stands. Each person should strive to achieve more than those whom they follow.

It was at this meeting that Dr. S.G. Jenkins proposed that a fund be created in Dr. Womack’s name. This proposal was adopted by the society. Dr. Benson R. Wilcox was appointed as Chairman of this committee, with Drs. S.G. Jenkins, Colin G. Thomas, Jr., Newton Fischer, and Ed Wells to serve as members. Dr. Clyde Potter was elected as Senior Counselor and Dr. Robert Zeppa as Junior Counselor under the new bylaws.

One week after the adjournment of the meeting, Dr. Womack suffered a fatal heart attack. This had probably occurred at or about the time of the society meeting, as there was evidence of an infarct about one week old at the time of autopsy. Dr. Womack had been so vital and so alive, yet had suffered from chronic lymphocytic leukemia, for which he had received splenic irradiation and from other small maladies during his last years.

In spite of this, he had remained clinically active, although curtailing some major surgical procedures. He had functioned in the outpatient clinics, teaching junior residents and medical students, had continued to serve as attending for the chief residents, and had actively participated in conferences. He had also actively participated in the National Board of Medical Examiners. He had given an address to the staff at New Hanover Memorial Hospital January 25, 1975, entitled “Examinations for Medical Competence.” In this discussion, he reviewed the development of the medical examinations, and in particular the growth of the National Board of Medical Examiners. He cited the need for examinations to evolve, so that clinical competence is more or less constantly reviewed. He closed his address with the following:

“As can now be seen, all of us are to be subjected to a more careful screening of our competence to perform our assigned duties. I think it is important to realize that this in not a “Big Brother” approach, but is one arising from the medical profession itself. The medical profession has a splendid record in this respect, and there is evidence that it continues to preserve this record. “

Dr. Womack also wrote an article for the Medical Alumni Bulletin entitled “The Image of Today’s Physician.” In this article he discussed the image of the ideal physician, indicating that it differs from earlier perceptions. “The physician is one who knows what he’s doing and who cares for a patient.” In order to educate an individual and bring this prototype into being, a set of complex problems is faced by educators. He said, “At the present time the national environment is in a state of turbulence, and nowhere does this turbulence reflect itself more acutely than the delivery of medical care.” He remarked about the fantastic achievements in scientific knowledge and its application in the prevention of sickness and pain and elimination of diseases and cited the growth of hospital and ambulatory care. He attributed the improvement of care to prepaid medical insurance and hospital insurance covering reasonable hospital expenses. He cited public polls showing medicine to be the most highly respected of all the professions, and physicians the most respected of all persons. As future problems he saw the growing public discontent with medicine, and a continuous complaint about the lack of availability of medical care in many areas, both rural and inner city. The demand for better distribution of physicians and the need to discriminate between medical desires of a trivial nature and true medical needs are pressing problems to be solved, he said. He cited these facts, which bother the legislatures and the federal Congress, who he said are

…becoming increasingly concerned with economics of medical care. A finger is often pointed at physicians because of apparent financial greed. Malpractice suits are becoming more frequent, with larger judgments against the physician. All of this results in an almost nostalgic desire for the return of the family doctor of a past generation.

He then noted the history of examination of physicians to determine competence and ended with a treatise on compassion and values, indicating that it is extremely important to be compassionate he said:

Human sympathy is basic to us all, an important difference in the biological system of man and most lower forms of life. We thus do notneed to instill it, to teach it, for it is present and deep in practically every student who enters medical school. The desire to be of help to one’s fellow man is generally the basic motive for studying medicine. The pedagogic problem becomes one of not letting this quality atrophy, and of providing an atmosphere in which it can rationally develop. Such a development requires an intimate relationship among the student, the patient, the patient’s family, and the teacher. It is best done by preceptorship, but preceptorship at its best. Not only , therefore, must means for such contact be provided, but the teacher must participate.

He decried the relative failure of medicine to instill such relationships, and called for aggressive leadership to make students more aware of the need for maintaining compassion. A background in humanities is needed for medical students, which can probably never be completely achieved. He saw a broadening tendency for truncation of humanities, substituting pure science, and he said “that sometimes it seems that literacy itself is under fire.” He summarized that this is probably not all medicine’s fault, but that the position of medicine at a particular time reflects the culture of the society at the time. The impersonal and computerized social structure that he saw growing twenty years ago seems to be transferred into our medical education thinking and practice, and may further erode our humanism. He concluded:

The image of the physician remains an image of wisdom and compassion. It will, of course, undergo constant change, but will always reflect the educational milieu to which the physician has been exposed and the cultural environment in which he must live.

Thus we are exposed to some of Dr. Womack’s thinking in his later years. Those of us who were privileged to work with him during that era were influenced tremendously by his thinking. It is perhaps this influence that he would like to have perpetuated more than anything else.

Beginning in 1975, the society increased areas of financial support for the Department by sponsoring various social events. Sponsorship of the annual social hour at the American College of Surgeons meeting was instituted. Funding for the Nathan A. Womack Scholarship, awarded annually to a chief resident in the Department of Surgery, was increased.

The next meeting of the Society was held February 3-5, 1977. Approximately 120 members of the Society attended. This was the first year that the facilities at the Carolina Inn were used for scientific sessions. The educational facilities at Berryhill Hall and the Clinic Auditorium were unavailable for morning meetings, so presentations were made in the Carolina Inn. In the afternoon, sessions were moved back to Berryhill Hall. Dr. David Sabiston served as the major invited speaker. Dr. Sabiston, Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Duke University, gave an excellent discussion and audiovisual review of recent diagnostic techniques available for the surgical patient. Dr. Lawrence Hurst, resident in orthopedics, introduced the audience to various audio-visual aids available through the audiovisual center at the School of Medicine in Berryhill Hall. The scientific sessions were open for the first time to the Medical School classes, to surgical personnel from the operating room, and to nursing personnel throughout North Carolina Memorial Hospital. At the banquet, held on February 4, Margaret Womack gave an outstanding address summarizing what she knew of Dr. Womack’s aspirations for the Department of Surgery and for the Womack Surgical Society. She gave a particularly poignant discussion of the feelings that Dr. Womack had held for his colleagues, whether they be student, resident, faculty member, or participating physician. The sacrifices that Margaret Womack and her children had made in order for the members of the Society and others to share so much of Dr. Womack were obvious in her comments. The minutes indicate that there was not a dry eye in the audience as Mrs. Womack challenged us to continue to strive for individual excellence. Also at this time, Dr. John C. Herion, Dr. Womack’s personal physician, was given an honorary membership in the Society.

Dr. Wilcox presented a recommendation to the Executive Board that an effort be made to raise the necessary funds to name the Department of Surgery the Nathan A. Womack Department of Surgery. The Executive Committee accepted the report and forwarded it to the floor of the Society. The Executive Committee felt that a broad base of support would be necessary in order to undertake such an effort. After some discussion, a motion was made that the Nathan A. Womack Fund for Research and Education be established. It was hoped that a sum could be raised sufficient to allow the Society, in conjunction with donations from outside individuals and groups, to reach a minimum of $500,000 within five years. Two dissenting votes were cast and the motion was passed. Dr. S.G. Jenkins was elected President at this meeting; Dr. Erle Peacock, Vice President and Program Chairman; and Dr. George Edwards, Jr., Counselor. Dr. McDevitt was to continue his term as Secretary-Treasurer, and Dr. Robert Zeppa became Senior Counselor.

The next meeting of the Society was held February 1-3, 1979, unofficially the beginning of the Centennial celebrations for the School of Medicine. Social and scientific affairs followed previous formats, and the scientific presentations included topics such as the current status of islet cell transplantation, the use of the hospital bill as a means of cost containment and complication review, increasing frequency of anti-thrombin III inhibition and its role in the surgical patient, multidisciplinary management of head and neck cancer, and new ideas in the treatment of breast cancer. Dr. Robert Zeppa and Dr. Richard Peters were highlighted speakers. The banquet speaker was astronaut Dr. William Thornton, a 1963 graduate of the University’s School of Medicine. Dr. Thornton gave an excellent talk along the general lines of medicine in space and challenges to the physician and surgeon in the weightless state. Dr. Thornton held the attention of all at the banquet. The meeting was adjourned with a request that each member of the Society donate $1,000 to the Nathan A. Womack Fund for Research and Education, and that work be directed toward raising $500,000. There were 115 members of the Society who attended this meeting, as well as guests, members of the surgical house staff, the medical student body, and other professionals from within the medical center.

The 1981 biennial meeting was held February 5-7. The Thursday evening social event followed the format originally outlined by Dr. Womack. The social events had been moved to the new Chapel Hill Country Club in the Oaks subdivision of Chapel Hill. More than 400 people attended the evening session. An excellent blend of basic science and clinical information was presented at the scientific sessions by members of the faculty, the house staff, and members of the Society. At a symposium “HMO, IPA, and You” moderated by Glenn Wilson of the Department of Social and Administrative Medicine, presentations by Dr. James Davis, one of our charter members (later to become President of the American Medical Association), Dr. Luther Kelly, an endocrinologist from Charlotte, North Carolina, and Calvin Michaels of Burlington Industries stimulated a brisk dialogue among the members.

Dr. Stuart Bondurant, Dean of the School of Medicine, spoke to the Society; and Dr. Charles B. Wilson was a special guest speaker for the Society as well as for the meeting of the Gordon S. Dugger Neurosurgical Society. The meeting was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Gordon Dugger, Professor of Neurosurgery, who died in 1980. Dr. Erle Peacock presided over the meeting with orderliness and zest. The guest banquet speaker honored Dr. Womack’s love of laughter, which was highly successful, and Margaret Womack was made an honorary member. At this point the previous Womack scholars were recognized. The Scholarship had now been given for ten years and Dr. Robert Croom, Dr. Edgar Garrabrant, Dr. Joey Carter, Dr. Noel McDevitt, Dr. Timothy Taft, Dr. Lewis Williams, Dr. Ronald Blumoff, Dr. Bruce Kihlstrom, Dr. Terry Fry, and Dr. Stephen Grubb were recognized as previous recipients. Dr. Ormond C. Mendes was recognized as the most recent Womack Scholar. Newly elected officers were Dr. Colin G. Thomas, Jr., President; Dr. Ben McCutcheon, Vice President; Dr. Noel McDevitt, Secretary-Treasurer; Dr. Ed Wells, Senior Counselor; and Dr. Bill Parker, Junior Counselor.

The next meeting of the Society was held February 3-5, 1983, in Chapel Hill. Once again the Carolina Inn served as the headquarters hotel. The evening cocktail buffet at the Chapel Hill Country Club was an outstanding success, attended by more people than ever. The scientific program was varied. A particularly important set of presentations included medical care at mission hospitals and overseas surgical residency training programs. Dr. Verne Chaney, President and Founder of the Dooley Foundation-Intermed USA and one of Dr. Womack’s former residents in general surgery, commented that the essential need for the Third World was basic general preventative and supportive health care. Applications of modern technology to a population-based approach were preferable to focusing on individual patient care.

Dr. Stuart Bondurant, Dean of the School of Medicine, gave an important address “On Sustaining the Standards and Traditions of Dr. Womack Through the Twentieth Century.” A session of the program was a tribute to “Tim” Thomas, presented by the house staff and faculty for his stimulus for scholarly activities. The creation of the Colin G. Thomas, Jr., Lectureship in Surgical Endocrinology was announced at this meeting. The lecturer would be a surgeon chosen by the Chairman of the Department of Surgery and would reflect scholarly activities in all specialty areas of endocrine diseases. Table XXXI lists the lecturers in surgical endocrinology. It was hoped that funds supporting the annual Lecture would be available to the Department, with the Lecture given biennially as a part of the Womack Surgical Society program. The entire medical community, including all faculty, all house staff, medical students and other students in allied fields, nurses, as well as the paramedical community, would be invited. Many new members were brought into the Society. Following the completion of this meeting, a meeting of the Gordon S. Dugger Neurosurgical Society was held. It was their second biennial meeting.

The 1985 meeting was held January 31-February 2. Dr. Benson McCutcheon served as President, with Dr. James F. Newsome as Vice-President and Program Chairman. Womack Scholars from 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984 were recognized. Dr. James Battaglini and Dr. Ritchie Gillespie were co-recipients in 1981, with Dr. Glen Preminger, Dr. Gilbert Schorlemmer, and Dr. Raleigh O. Jones recipients in 1982, 1983, and 1984, respectively. A different approach was taken to the meeting this year, with poster sessions held continuously throughout the meeting in the Carolina Inn. In addition, concurrent sessions were held during a segment of the morning hour. There had been so many excellent abstracts presented that the Program Committee felt it necessary to experiment with concurrent sessions. The presentations were absolutely superb. A breast reconstruction panel was held, presented by general and plastic surgeons together, culminating in a report by Dr. Carl R. Hartrampf of Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Hartrampf was trained in general surgery at Chapel Hill prior to his plastic surgery training at the University of Florida. Dr. Hartrampf was instrumental in developing a new procedure for breast reconstruction, which required further work before achieving general clinical applicability, but demonstrated great promise for the future. This technique later became the gold standard for post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.

Finally, at the 1985 meeting, the first annual Colin G. Thomas, Jr., Lecture in Surgical Endocrinology was given. Appropriately, Dr. Thomas himself was the speaker and his topic was “On the Hyperfunctioning Glands of Owen - Initial Studies and Early Patients.” Dr. Thomas was introduced by Dr. Robert D. Croom III. At this time, the endowment of the Dr. Colin G. Thomas, Jr., Fund to support the lecturer in surgical endocrinology was announced. The activities of the Department over the last two years were then reviewed, including the Nathan A. Womack Fund for Research and Education. In 1985, the fund had approximately $40,000 on deposit and continued to grow.

At this meeting there was much sentiment to move the meeting to a springtime date. The membership voted to authorize the Executive Committee to do this, if possible. Elections were held, and Dr. James Newsome was elected President. Dr. George Irvin III was selected Vice-President . Dr. John F. Rhodes progressed to Senior Counselor, and Dr. Ira Hardy was elected Junior Counselor. Dr. McDevitt continued to serve as Secretary-Treasurer. Dr. James Newsome expressed his thanks to Dr. Benson McCutcheon, who had served as President in the previous biennium, and a letter was read from Dr. George F. Sheldon, the new Chairman of the Department, who was unable to attend the Womack Society Meeting because of a previous commitment as a Regent of the American College of Surgeons.

The 1985 meeting of the Gordon S. Dugger Neurosurgical Society was held conjointly. Their special guest was Dr. David Klein of Louisiana State University. Dr. Klein presented a lecture on brachial plexus injuries, during the Womack Society meeting, and participated in the neurosurgical society meeting.

The membership of the Womack Society had grown steadily with the addition of new members at the termination of each residency period and of new faculty members. Others have been added as well who meet the criteria for membership. In 1985, there were 275 members of the Society.

The 1987 meeting was held June 11-13. Attendance was disappointing, listing only 98 registrants. Twenty-nine UNC faculty members attended, and there were thirty-two resident guests. The program again had concurrent sessions and was held with morning meetings in the Carolina Inn and with Friday afternoon and Saturday morning meetings in Berryhill Hall. The papers presented were superb and included a wide array of clinical and basic topics as well as topics on medical socioeconomics. The Thursday evening cocktail buffet and the Friday evening formal banquet were continued and generally felt to be successful. Dr. Robert Zollinger was the invited Colin G. Thomas, Jr., Lecturer and presented an excellent paper, “Hormonal-Producing Tumors of the Pancreas.”

The Nathan A. Womack Fund for Research and Education was reviewed, and committees were appointed to make certain that the Fund was being appropriately dispersed. Dr. Sheldon, Dr. Newsome, Dr. Burns, Dr. Norfleet, and others were asked to review it. It was stressed that the Society needed to continue a global presentation, carrying items of interest for individuals of all specialties. Dr. Newsome was thanked for his service as President and presided over the general business meeting, at which the perennial discussion supportive of a spring meeting took place. The difficulties with the spring meeting and with poor attendance were pointed out, and members decided to allow the officers to set the meeting time, as recommended by the Executive Board. Concurrent sessions were felt not to be productive, and there was a recommendation against using them in the future. Further recommendations were that papers be short and that timed discussion be provided during the scientific sessions. Dr. George Irvin III was elected President of the Society, Dr. Kenneth Sugioka was elected Vice President and Chairman of the Program Committee, and Dr. Woodrow Burns was elected Junior Counselor. A moment of silence was held for Dr. Clyde Potter, one of the founding members of the Society, who passed away in 1986.

The 1989 meeting of the Society was held in Chapel Hill on January 19-21. The Womack Scholars were recognized and included Drs. Daniel L. Paull, Herbert O. Phillips, Manning M. Goldsmith III, John D. Crouch, and Joe L. Camps, Jr. The program was moderated by President Irvin. A wide range of scientific papers from the membership and from the faculty and house staff of the Department were presented. The Fourth Annual Colin G. Thomas, Jr., Lecture in Surgical Endocrinology was given by Dr. G. Thomas Shires. A Preoperative/Morbidity and Mortality Conference was held at the termination of the scientific meetings on Saturday. Chaired by Dr. Robert Zeppa, who was “pinch-hitting” for Dr. Nathan Womack, the conference was enjoyed, and the members suggested continuing it at future meetings. The 1989 program was dedicated to the memory of Dr. James F. Newsome, whose untimely death from cancer in 1988 caused all the members great sorrow. Dr. Newsome was the first Secretary-Treasurer of the Society, as well as a charter member. He was one of Dr. Womack’s early residents in Chapel Hill and had remained on the faculty as Director of the Surgical Oncology program. He was instrumental in forming the Cancer Registry for North Carolina, and, in addition to being a superb surgeon and teacher, was an outstanding husband, father, and human being. He will be remembered and missed by all the members of the Society and his mark will be indelible on the Medical School.

The Twenty-Second Anniversary Biennial Meeting of the Society was held in Chapel Hill on January 24-26, 1991. Dr. Kenneth Sugioka, President of the Society, presided at this meeting. The scientific sessions once again covered a myriad of topics in all specialties. The Sixth Annual Colin G. Thomas, Jr., Lecture in Surgical Endocrinology was given at this meeting. Dr. Murray F. Brennan, Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, spoke on management of adrenal tumors. This excellent presentation was complemented by presentations from former Womack Scholars of new techniques in laparoscopic cholecystectomy and in tissue transportation for closure of radiation wounds. It was gratifying that many members came from great distances to attend these sessions. The interests of the members of the faculty were certainly protean, and were reflected in the attitudes and activities of the resident staff. The membership of the Society was continuing to grow, and support for the Department from members of the Society and by the Society itself had increased.

The program was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Herbert Jennings Proctor, a popular member of the faculty and former Secretary-Treasurer of the Society. Dr. Proctor succumbed to metastatic carcinoma of the appendix. Dr. Proctor, the founder of the Department’s Trauma Service, was instrumental in developing aeromedical services throughout North Carolina, and specifically at UNC. Announcement was made of the Herbert Jennings Proctor Research Endowment to provide financial support for surgical residents or medical students for original and innovative research projects. Also announced at this meeting was the Newsome Distinguished Professorship, the purpose being to establish an endowment to support the Newsome Lectureship.

The 1993 meeting of the Society was held January 28-30 in Chapel Hill. Dr. Benson R. Wilcox, who had been elected President at the 1991 meeting, presided. The program was under the direction of Dr. Paul Weeks, the Vice President and Program Chairman. The program was dedicated to the memories of Dr. Joey M. Carter, the 1972 Womack Scholar; Dr. James L. Fry, Jr., a former resident in urology and husband of faculty member Dr. Terry Fry; and Dr. M. Stephen Mahaley, Jr., former Professor and Chief of Neurosurgery, all of whom had met untimely deaths in the preceding year. Recognition was also given to the Womack Scholars: Drs. Louis C. Almekinders and James D. Sidman, 1989; Drs. J. Gregory Staffel and Douglas E. Paull, 1990; Dr. Kevin Nolan, 1991; and Drs. Rosa E. Cuenca and Richard E. Davis, 1992.

The scientific papers presented at the meeting included a wide range of both clinical and investigative topics. A highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Dr. Richard M. Peters, former Chairman of the Division of Thoracic Surgery, and early pioneer in open heart surgery and founder of the UNC program that grew into the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Peters, Professor of Surgery at the University of California at San Diego, presented “Bioengineering: Inception at UNC and a Sequel at California.” During his presentation Dr. Peters presented a model of a computer program that could be used for histories and physicals, operative notes, and tracking a patient’s care. Other papers included a follow-up of laparoscopic cholecystectomy and video-assisted thoracic surgery, another new application of technology. The Seventh Annual Colin G. Thomas, Jr., Lecture in Surgical Endocrinology was given by Dr. R. Scott Jones, Professor of Surgery at the University of Virginia. His topic was “Hormones and Medicine.”

The quality of abstracts submitted for the program was exemplary. The membership was continuing to grow, and there was some concern expressed about maintaining effective contact with the Department. At the general membership meeting that closed the 1993 program, Dr. Paul Weeks was elected President. He expressed thanks on behalf of the Society to Dr. Benson R. Wilcox for his excellent service as President. Dr. Paul Biggers was elected Vice President and Program Chairman for the coming biennium, and Dr. McDevitt agreed to continue as Secretary-Treasurer.

McDevitt  The above history was compiled by Dr Noel McDevitt, now a plastic surgeon in Pinehurst, NC, seen here during his residency at UNC.

Reference: Kagarise, MJ, Thomas, Colin CG. LEGENDS AND LEGACIES - A Look Inside Four Decades of Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Surgery, Chapel Hill, NC. February 1997.