Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons

A collaborative effort between the
National Library of Medicine
and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland
African American History and Culture in Baltimore.
The National Library of Medicine is the largest medical library
in the world and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum
is the largest African American museum on the east coast.

February 1 – May 31, 2007

Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons is an exhibition celebrating the contributions of African American academic surgeons to medicine and medical education.  It tells the stories of four pioneering African American surgeons and educators who exemplify excellence in their fields and believe in continuing the journey of excellence through the education and mentoring younger physicians and surgeons.   

Through contemporary and historical images, the exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through the lives and achievements of these academic surgeons, and provides a glimpse into the stories of those that came before them and those that continue the tradition today.

The four pioneers are Alexa I. Canady, the first African American woman pediatric neurosurgeon; LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., cancer surgeon, and the first African American President of the American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society; Claude H. Organ, Jr., general surgeon, and the first African American to chair a department of surgery at a predominantly white medical school; and Rosalyn P. Scott, the first African American woman cardiothoracic surgeon.

The exhibition also features other academic surgeons from around the country that follow in the tradition of sharing their knowledge and passing the torch to younger surgeons. These include Levi Watkins, Jr. of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who performed the first implantation of a automatic defibrillator in a human in 1980; Carla M. Pugh of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who holds a patent for a method of simulation used to design the pelvic exam simulator, a teaching tool for medical students; and Claudia L. Thomas, the first African American woman orthopaedic surgeon.

Opening Doors is not intended to be an encyclopedic look at African American academic surgeons, but is intended to provide only a glimpse into the contributions that African American academic surgeons have made to medicine and medical education. We hope that through this exhibition we can bring light to these stories and inspire others to pursue careers in academic surgery.

An online web version of the exhibition is also available at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/aframsurgeons

Opening Doors will tour around the United States beginning in August 2007.  For more information, please contact Jill L. Newmark, 301-435-5241.

This exhibition was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.

Curated by Margaret A. Hutto and Jill L. Newmark.

0 Responses

  1. I’m so pleased to see the Opening Doors exhibition highlighted on your blog. We are honored to have been able to work so many wonderful surgeons to make this exhibition possible. We hope that through this exhibition we can encourage minorities and women to pursue careers in academic surgery and bring to light the many extraordinary contributions that African American academic surgeons have made to medicine and medical education. The exhibition will be touring to 28 institutions around the country beginning in August 2007.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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