Welcome from Dr. John Olson

Today, the idiom “Full Circle” usually refers to the situation where one returns to a place of beginning.  However, the first use of ”the Wheel is come full circle”  is attributed to Shakespeare (King Lear, Act 5, scene 3) in reference to Fortuna, the mythical Goddess of chance, who would spin a wheel to change the fate of men. Indeed, I am quite fortunate to return “full circle” to St. Louis as the sixth William K. Bixby Professor to lead the vibrant Department of Surgery at Washington University, nearly 25 years after completing my surgical residency here.

Much has changed in the department, the school, and our hospitals since I finished training in 1998.  Under the leadership of my predecessor, Timothy Eberlein, MD, the Department has expanded its faculty to over 200 members, has grown its remarkable clinical programs, has ascended to second nationally in the NIH Blue Ridge ranking for research funding, and has led the redesign of surgical education in our country.  Our medical school also has grown spectacularly in terms of faculty numbers, federal research funding, and, with Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the footprint of our medical campus. Although much has changed, the physical cornerstones of our institutions remain plainly visible and their core values constant.

Importantly, the WashU culture of excellence persists.  Our faculty and staff work incredibly hard and our residents remain the heart and soul of the Department.  Tested by the unprecedented challenges of our time, we remain steadfast to the distinctive missions of academic surgery and are relentless in our pursuit to improve the health and wellbeing of our patients and patients everywhere.  To borrow a phrase, we truly are a “Department of Distinction.”

I hope you will enjoy the information and stories in this newsletter, and will take pride in our Department of Surgery.  I welcome a call, an email, or a visit to the Department to witness for yourself the remarkable work of our people.

John Olson, MD