July 13, 2001

Pinson heads department of surgery

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Pinson heads department of surgery

Dr. C. Wright Pinson, professor of Surgery and surgical director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center, has been named the chairman of the Department of Surgery and the new H. William Scott Professor of Surgery. Dean Steven G. Gabbe made the announcement during a special called meeting of the Section of Surgical Sciences.

Pinson will lead the largest department within the Section of Surgical Sciences, headed by Dr. R. Daniel Beauchamp. Beauchamp, the director of the Section, has assumed the duties of the post. Beauchamp will also assume the John Clinton Foshee Distinguished Professor of Surgery chair, previously held by Dr. James A. O’Neill Jr.

"I'm thrilled to have Wright Pinson in this leadership position in the Department of Surgery,” Beauchamp said. “His considerable clinical and administrative talents and experience are highly valued by me and everyone else in the Department."

“I can think of no one more qualified to lead the Department of Surgery than Wright Pinson,” said O’Neill. “He is a superb surgeon with special talents and expertise in all of the most difficult areas of general surgery, namely liver transplantation and hepatobiliary surgery.”

Pinson’s success as an educator, investigator, administrator, organizer and team builder is internationally known, O’Neill said. “This is why the additional recognition of being awarded the H. William Scott Professor of Surgery is so appropriate since his profile so clearly parallels that of Dr. Scott. Vanderbilt is enormously fortunate to have Wright Pinson in this position.”

“This is a very exciting and challenging era for medicine and for our Medical Center,” Pinson said. “I am very happy to be participating in the continuing improvement for surgery here academically and clinically. We will make further significant contributions locally, nationally and internationally.”

Pinson has served as interim chair of Surgery and most recently as vice chair of the department.

Pinson will now head the new department of Surgery that includes a department of General Surgery and the Transplant Center. The new department of Surgery joins the other surgical departments within the Section of Surgical Sciences: Neurosurgery, Oral Surgery, Pediatric Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Thoracic and Cardiac Surgery, Urologic Surgery, and Dentistry.

“Dr. Scott was the chair of the Department of Surgery when I was a medical student,” Pinson said. “When I came back 10 years ago, it was fulfilling when he sometimes asked me to assist with his operations. He is one of the revered names in surgery of all time. It is an extreme honor.”

Pinson attended Miami University and the University of Colorado, where he graduated with distinction in Physics and received an MBA in Finance. After graduating from Vanderbilt in 1980, he completed his residency and three fellowships (cardiovascular physiology at Oregon Health Sciences University, gastrointestinal surgery at the Lahey Clinic and transplantation at Harvard University/New England Deaconess Hospital). He is board certified in Surgery and in Critical Care.

After completing his training, he started the first liver transplantation program in the Pacific Northwest in 1988 and the first liver transplant program in the Veterans Affairs system in 1989. He came to Vanderbilt in 1990 to start the Liver Transplant Program and Hepatobiliary Surgery Division.

“We have developed this division from the ground up to where it’s one of the most respected hepatobiliary and liver transplant groups,” he said. “We have also been extremely productive academically.”

In 1993 he became the surgical director of the Vanderbilt Transplant Center, a post vacated by Dr. Bill Frist when he ran for the U.S. Senate. Pinson’s other appointments include chief of staff of the hospital, past chairman of the Medical Center Medical Board and medical director of the Surgery and Transplantation Patient Care Center.

“I set goals and I generally reach them,” Pinson said. “I am a consensus and team builder. I am willing to make hard decisions.”

Pinson has authored more than 200 publications and given more than 500 scientific presentations and lectures. He is on the Editorial Board of Annals of Surgery and the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. He maintains a lab in the field of liver transplant surgery and is an active clinical researcher, having received more than 20 grants over his career. He earned the Sawyers research award and the Liddle research-mentoring award.

He is on the board of the United Network for Organ Sharing, chairs the surgery section of the Southern Medical Association, is past president of the Tennessee Transplant Society, and is president-elect of the American Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association. He is active in the International HPBA, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American Surgical Association and The Halsted Society among others. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Physician Executives.