Surgical Innovators


An established surgical innovator who can effectively lead a research team is thought to be the secret to many research successes. Throughout the centuries, the Department of Surgery at the University of Louisville has been home to many outstanding surgical leaders and innovators. Paving the way to our current innovations has been some of the most influential surgeons of our time. Chief among them is Samuel David Gross, MD (Chair, 1841-1856). Dr. Gross is one of North America’s most respected surgeons in the 19th century. He established one of the first surgical laboratories and is best known for the famous Gross Clinic. David Wendel Yandell, MD (Chair, 1873-1896) was a protégé of Dr. Gross and created the West’s first clinic--the “Stokes Free Dispensary.” William Owen Roberts, MD (Chair, 1896-1912) performed the first successful operation on a human abdominal stab wound. R. Arnold Griswold, MD (Chair, 1938-1952) established the country’s first “accident service” at Louisville City Hospital. Dr. Griswold also developed autotransfusion and was innovative in the treatment of fractures. Hiram C. Polk, Jr., MD (Chair, 1971-2005) significantly impacted the surgical field with his pioneering research on proper surgical antibiotic use to reduce surgical site infections, as well as his work in burn care, hiatal hernia treatment, and in the development of contemporary surgical training models. Current Chair Kelly M. McMasters, MD, PhD, is also Director of the Multidisciplinary Melanoma Clinic at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. He is a recent recipient of the Established Investigator Award from the Melanoma Research Foundation. Dr. McMasters is the author and Principal Investigator (PI) of the Sunbelt Melanoma Trial, one of the largest prospective melanoma studies ever performed. He directs a basic and translational science laboratory in the state-of-the-art Clinical and Translational Research Building.