Welcome Message from the Chairperson
The surgical residency program at Case Western Reserve University has a long tradition in training surgical leaders and is designed to focus upon providing high quality, individually oriented, education in general surgery. There is strong emphasis upon teaching surgical principles and clinical skills. At the same time the program offers opportunities for mentored research and career path development. It is the goal of the program to develop surgeons who will be thought leaders and clinical experts in the surgical disciplines and go on to dynamic careers in academics or clinical practice. Residents are encouraged to strategically consider and plan their careers early on in their training. The program seeks applicants who are self-directed learners and enthusiastic about becoming leaders in clinical and academic surgery.
Jeffrey L. Ponsky, M.D.
CASE Surgery Department History
A review of our history reveals a host of leaders in American surgery and a long list of clinical advances initiated in our laboratories and hospitals. To read more about our rich history and ongoing endeavours, please visit our annual report link.
Dr. Horace A. Ackley
Dr. Horace A. Ackley, in 1834, founded of the medical school that would eventually become the Starling Medical College at the Ohio State University. He was the first Chairman and Professor of General and Special Anatomy & Physiology and as staff surgeon, was the first to use ether just 3 months after Morton’s demonstration at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
Dr. Dudley P. Allen
Dr. Dudley Peter Allen, fifth Chairman starting in 1893, was in tenure during a period of significant expansion. The Allen Medical Library, then known as the Cleveland Medical Library Association, was created through his endowment of the marble building next to University Hospitals where it currently still exists. The father of his wife, Elizabeth Severance, donated Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra. He made significant revisions to the medical curriculum, which involved seven departments and 4100 hours of instruction along with expanded entrance requirements. He was a leader in surgical education and became President of the American Surgical Association.
Dr. George Washington Crile
Chairman from 1910 until 1924, Dr. Crile began his practice as a Trauma surgeon in Cleveland. His interest in shock from blood loss culminated in the first local transfusion of whole blood in 1906 and his interest in trauma spurred the use of the new Roentgen X-ray machines. In the 1920’s, Dr. Crile worked with Dr. Edward Cushing (brother of the famed Harvey Cushing) to create the new Lakeside Hospital in University Circle along with the Pathology Institute, Babies and Children Hospital and the MacDonald House Hospital for obstetrics and gynecology. When he reached the retirement age of 65–a policy he set in motion for his predecessor Dr. Allen–Dr. Crile did not retire fully but rather rejoined his former private practice partners from the old Lakeside so as to further their new adventure–the Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Elliott C. Cutler
Dr. Cutler was the seventh Chairman of the Department, from 1924 until 1932. His surgical training was completed at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (PBBH) and the Massachusetts General Hospitals (MGH) in Boston. Dr. Cutler began his academic career under the famed neurosurgeon at the PBBH–Harvey Cushing–who came from a family of physicians in Cleveland. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Cutler was appointed as chairman of our department. Dr. Cutler created a full time teaching faculty and brought with him a commitment to surgical research for both the faculty and residents. He invented a transventricular valvulotome for mitral stenosis. It was not successful but this investigative work with Dr. Claude Beck of our department started Dr. Beck’s lifelong series of achievements in cardiovascular surgery. Dr. Cutler returned to the PBBH as Harvey Cushing’s successor in 1934, and his list of surgical trainees from both institutions formed the core of surgical professors and leaders for the next 30 years.
Dr. Carl Henri Lenhart
Dr. Lenhart received his college, medical school and residency training in Cleveland. He became the first recipient of the endowed Oliver H. Payne Chair of Surgery, however the depression era finances were such that he was the only one with a salary. Although simple fiscal survival was the order of the day, Dr. Lenhart was able to work with Dr. David Marine who demonstrated the relationship between iodine deficiency and goiter as Cleveland was part of the “Goiter Belt.” World War II further stressed the department as most members were called overseas with the Lakeside Unit (Base Hospital #4) going to Australia and then New Guinea.
Dr. William D. Holden
Dr. William D. Holden assumed the chairmanship in 1950–a post he held until 1977. A graduate of Cornell College and Medical School, he trained in surgery at University Hospitals in Cleveland. Remarkably, he advanced one academic rank per year starting as an Instructor in 1946. He became a Senior Instructor in 1947, an Assistant Professor in 1948, an Associate Professor in 1949 and the Professor and Chairman in 1950. He was one of six departmental chairs appointed shortly after WWII by the new Dean Dr. Joseph Wearn. All had long tenures and illustrious academic careers beginning with the new revolutionary Western Reserve School of Medicine curriculum in 1952. This brought together the basic science and clinical faculties into subject committees that vertically integrated the entire medical school content. Dr. Holden expanded the geographic full-time faculty whose base salaries allowed them to spend less time on private practice and more on teaching and research. Early metabolic surgical research was supported with a metabolic clinical unit within Lakeside, labs in the new Wearn research building attached to University Hospitals, and a new large animal research unit with labs and OR’s within the new adjacent medical school complex. The surgical specialty services flourished and many became their own departments–Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, ENT and Urology. The part time surgical faculty was integrated into the division of general surgery with the opening of the multidiscipline medical building at Green Road–the University Suburban Health Center (USHC). This resulted in the formation of an academic practice plan called University Surgeons Inc. which was absorbed by the hospital in 2004. Educationally, Dr. Holden combined the surgical residencies of University Hospitals, the Cleveland VA Hospital and Cleveland Metro General Hospital into the unified CASE general surgery residency program in 1970. He integrated some of the surgical specialties with general surgery so as to give joint credit for research years and to allow the specialty chief residency to count as the chief year in general surgery. This shortened the residency training years for those on an academic pathway–a concept that is being considered again today. Finally, Dr. Holden and Ralph DePalma obtained funding from Severance Milliken to endow the Allen scholar program which allows the department to independently fund at full salary one or two research residents every year.
Dr. Jay Lloyd Ankeney
In 1977, Dr. Jay Lloyd Ankeney became the acting chairman while search committees sought a replacement for Dr. Holden. Dr. Ankeney was the chief of the cardiothoracic division and a renowned heart surgeon.
Dr. Jerry Mark Shuck
Dr. Jerry Mark Shuck was appointed as chairman in 1980. Dr. Shuck received his medical and surgical training principally in Cincinnati after first becoming a pharmacist and secondly after a brief professional baseball career. His academic career began at the Surgical Research (Burn) Unit of the Brooke Army Medical Center and the University of Texas as San Antonio. Dr. Shuck next moved to the New Mexico Medical School in Albuquerque where he created a burn and trauma unit. Upon arrival at Case, Dr. Shuck brought a renewed commitment to excellence in teaching of residents and medical students along with further development of the academic faculty. The division of general surgery doubled in size and several areas of special expertise were developed–The Breast Center, Transplantation, Vascular, Bariatric and Minimally Invasive (Laparoscopic) Procedures. He along with Dr. Ponsky integrated the surgical residency program at Mt. Sinai Hospital until that institution closed in the 1990’s. Dr. Shuck oversaw the expansion of the clinical scope of the department into ambulatory surgery at the Green Road USHC and at University Hospitals and into the clinical offices at USHC, the Bolwell ambulatory building, MacDonald Breast Center, Westlake, Highland Heights and Richmond Heights. All of this activity reflected the increasing reliance upon clinical practice income and an increasing role of the hospitals in determining departmental priorities. Subsequently, Dr. Shuck returned to his original passion–the education of residents–when he became Director and Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education for the entire University Hospitals system in 2001.
Dr. James A. Schulak
Dr. James A. Schulak served as Chairman from 2001 until 2004. He is a transplantation surgeon who had been recruited from The University of Iowa by Dr. Shuck in 1985. Dr. Schulak is a graduate of the University of Chicago School of Medicine where he also completed both general surgery and transplant training. Abdominal organ transplantation and pancreatic surgery are the clinical areas of special interest for him. In this department, he dramatically increased the number of kidney transplantations, and established liver and pancreas transplant programs while establishing a national reputation in transplant immunology and reperfusion injury research. As chairman, he stabilized the practice patterns within the divisions and restructured medical student and resident education. During his tenure as chairman, he began the process which has led many of the Department faculty to join forces with University Hospitals Health System by becoming full-time employees.
Dr. Jerry Goldstone
Dr. Jerry Goldstone, the chief of the Vascular Service, then served as acting chairman during 2004 until Dr. Jeffrey L. Ponsky was appointed as the twelfth chairman in 2005.
Dr. Jeffrey L. Ponsky
Jeffrey L. Ponsky, MD, MBA became, in 2005, the Oliver H. Payne Professor and Chairman, Department of Surgery at CWRU. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Ponsky was Professor of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and Director of Graduate Medical Education at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Dr. Ponsky is a graduate of CWRU School of Medicine (1971) and completed his surgical internship and residency at CWRU Integrated Surgical Residency Program (1971 to 1976).
His academic career began at University Hospitals in 1976, where he co-developed the popularization of the PEG procedure conceived by he and one of our pediatric surgeons — Dr. Michael Gauderer. Dr. Ponsky then became the Chief of Surgery at Mt Sinai Hospital (also here within University Circle) for 18 years. The quality of his educational program was such that it was integrated into the Case surgical residency until Mt. Sinai, along with several Cleveland area hospitals, was closed in the 1990’s.
In 1990, he received his MBA from CWRU Weatherhead School of Management. Dr. Ponsky has served as a Director of the American Board of Surgery (ABS) and is Chairman of the ABS. He has served as President of the following organizations: the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (1996 to 1997), the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Surgeons (1994 to 1995), the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (1990 to 1992), Northeastern Ohio Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (1982 to 1987), and Cleveland Surgical Society (1990 to 1991). Dr. Ponsky has received numerous awards including the prestigious Rudolf Schindler Award by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (2002). He has published over 230 manuscripts, book chapters and books. His area of expertise is in Surgical Endoscopy and Minimally Invasive Surgery.