Department of Surgery Honors Medical Legend Syphax

WASHINGTON -- Dr. Burke "Mickey" Syphax, a surgical legend who in 1937 was one of the first residents trained in the Department of Surgery at Howard University College of Medicine, will be honored during a special legacy dinner at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 7, at the J. W. Marriott Hotel in downtown Washington. by the Department of Surgery.

Syphax, a faculty member under pioneering surgeon and medical researcher Dr. Charles R. Drew, was chief of the Division of General Surgery from 1950 to 1970, where he was primarily responsible for directing the general surgery residence program.

During those two decades, he trained 61 surgeons and helped train over 90 percent of the African-American surgeons in metropolitan Washington. Because of his superb diagnostic acumen, clinical judgment and technical dexterity, Syphax has often been called a "Master of the Abdomen."

Syphax holds a special place in the history of surgery and of medical instruction at Howard University College of Medicine, said Dr. Edward Cornwell III, surgeon in chief at Howard University Hospital and chair of the college's Department of Surgery.

"He represents a true living legacy and the bridge of excellence between Dr Charles Drew and our current leaders in surgery," Cornwell said.

In 2008, the Department of Surgery renamed its minimally invasive, bariatric, surgical endoscopy and colorectoral cancer service the Syphax Service in his honor.

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