Stony Brook Surgery at 50: Honoring a Legacy and Facing the Future

As the Department of Surgery kicks off its year-long 50th anniversary celebration, this is the first in a series of articles to be posted throughout 2024 as recognition of the history and achievements of the Stony Brook Department of Surgery.

The Department of Surgery was founded in 1974, about three years after the opening of Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine, under the leadership of the first dean of medicine and first vice president of health sciences at Stony Brook, Edmund D. Pellegrino, MD. Prior to University Hospital’s opening in 1980, the Department of Surgery utilized the Northport VA Medical Center as its primary clinical site.

Harry s soroff 1st surgery chair
Dr. Harry S. Soroff

Harry S. Soroff, MD, founding chair of the Department of Surgery, was recruited by Marvin Kuschner, MD, the second dean of medicine.

Among Dr. Soroff’s responsibilities during his tenure as department chair was his position as chief of the Gastrointestinal Surgery Division (which provided general surgical care, trauma care and burn care), establishing the general surgery residency program (including the implementation of the curriculum for medical students) and recruiting faculty to lead new surgical divisions. One of the first faculty recruited in early 1974 was Clarence Dennis, MD, PhD, who was a pioneer of open-heart surgery and the inventor of the heart-lung machine. By the late 1970s, the Vascular Surgery and Transplantation divisions had been established and were led by chiefs Fabio Giron, MD, PhD, and Felix T. Rapaport, MD, respectively.

In 1982, in his “Preface” to the Selected Published Works of the Surgical Faculty, Dr. Soroff posed the following questions and challenges for Stony Brook’s Department of Surgery:

“What of the future? Will the name of Stony Brook be associated with excellence and innovation? Will our faculty be at the forefront of surgical progress? As founders, it is our responsibility to set the standards and hold a steady course which ensures that the spirit of scientific inquiry be nurtured and honored, not only as a suitable, but as an indispensable attribute of an academic surgeon. For only in this manner will we continue to maintain and enhance a fresh and modern approach to our clinical and teaching activities and develop ourselves into the superlative group we have the capacity of becoming.”

Forty-two years later and fifty years after the department’s founding, Dr. Soroff’s challenge and legacy stand as motivating factors to provide the highest level of patient care, medical education and groundbreaking clinical research for Stony Brook Surgery’s faculty, staff and medical students.

Read the full article on the Stony Brook Medicine Surgery blog.

— Dan Olawski, Department of Surgery

Related posts

The latest On Social Media

Article Categories

Subscribe to SB Matters