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John Olson, MD, PhD, Is Newest Recipient of the Campbell and Jeanette Plugge Professorship in Surgery

Thursday, May 23, 2013

 Dean Reece, Dr. Olson and Stephen Bartlett, MD, the Peter Angelos Distinguished Professor in Surgery and Chair of the Department of Surgery.

An investiture ceremony was held on May 23, 2013, to formally recognize John A. Olson, Jr., MD, PhD, as the newest Campbell and Jeanette Plugge Professor in Surgery. This Professorship  was established by  Brigadier General Frederick “Fritz” W. Plugge, IV, MD, a 1957 graduate of the School of Medicine, to provide a lasting memorial to his parents for their unselfish support of his education and medical training. Dr. Olson found it fitting that he had his own parents in the audience as he accepted the professorship. “As I thought about this professorship and what I want to do with it, I thought about parenting and the people who make you who you are,” he said. “I hope our students, residents and young faculty someday view our program as what inspired them, inspired them not only to be dedicated surgeons to their patients, but also to be dedicated to the academic missions that are so endangered yet so important. “

In such challenging economic times, it is sometimes difficult to find physicians who are willing to dedicate themselves to academic medicine. Endowed professorships such as this are a way to attract and keep talented teachers here at the School of Medicine. “Our faculty members are critical to who we are and what we do,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and the John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished Professor and Dean of the School of Medicine. “They make it possible for us to sit comfortably in the top tier of medical schools nationwide. Endowed professorships provide our outstanding faculty members with the critical resources they need to sustain and expand the promising research they endeavor to carry out, while at the same time enabling them to launch new initiatives to educate and train future physicians. They are an exceptionally effective tool in retaining and recruiting the best and the brightest.”

That certainly describes Dr. Olson, who was praised widely by his former mentors and colleagues. “He was a gifted investigator, an outstanding technical surgeon, and a wonderful teacher,” said Samuel Wells, Jr., MD, who worked with Dr. Olson at Washington University in St. Louis, and is now Adjunct Investigator, Cancer Genetics Branch, National Cancer Institute. “I’m honored to be asked to participate in such a special day for such a wonderful individual,” said Herbert Chen, MD, Professor and Chair of General Surgery, and the Layton F. Rikkers, MD Chair in Surgical Leadership at the University of Wisconsin. “John has been working for just a little over a decade, but has accomplished what has taken some people decades on his way to this professorship.”

If you are interested in endowing a professorship in honor of a loved one, please visit the Office of Development website for information on how to do so.

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 Dr. Bartlett; Dean Reece; Dr. Chen; Dr. Olson; Dr. Douglas Tyler, a colleague of Dr. Olson's at Duke; and Dr. Wells.

 Dr. Olson with his family.

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