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History of Plastic Surgery


The story of Plastic Surgery at the Ohio State University begins with the appointment of Dr. Bruce C. Martin to the faculty in 1947.  Dr. Martin had earned his MD degree from Washington University, and had trained in General Surgery and Plastic Surgery at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, under the tutelage of Dr. James Barrett Brown.  He had served in the United States Army during World War II prior to coming to OSU.  Dr. Martin was appointed to serve under Dr. Robert Zollinger, who began his long and distinguished career as Chair of the Department of Surgery at OSU in January 1947.

Dr. John Charles Trabue, an OSU graduate and community plastic surgeon who had been introduced to Plastic Surgery while serving in the U. S. Army at Dibble General Hospital during World War II, and later did his residency under Dr. W. Brandon Macomber in Albany, New York, was added to the faculty in Plastic Surgery as an Instructor in 1950.  During the 1952-1953 academic year Dr. Zollinger created a separate division of Plastic Surgery within the Department of Surgery; Dr. Martin was promoted from Instructor to Assistant Professor and appointed as the division’s first Director.  At the same time, a clinic in Plastic Surgery was established at the University Hospital under the direction of Drs. Martin and Trabue.

Shortly after Dr. Martin’s appointment as chief of the division, a residency program (approved at that time by the American Board of Plastic Surgery) was established.  The program was of two years duration, with 6 months of assignment to Children’s Hospital (including assignments to Plastic Surgery Clinic and Cleft Palate Clinic) and the remainder of the time at University Hospital.  The residents also spent 6 months during surgical research. Dr. Mary M. Martin, a graduate of the OSU General Surgery program who had spent some time in plastic surgery training at Presbyterian Hospital in New York, served as the first OSU resident in plastic surgery from 1953 to 1955.  After “graduation,” Dr. Martin moved to Cincinnati and established a busy private practice, which she maintained for more than 40 years.

From 1955 through 1961 four more residents trained in Plastic Surgery at OSU: Dr. Thomas R. Leech; Dr. John L. Terry; Dr. Rufus E. Craven; and Dr. Leonard King.  Dr. Leech went on to practice in Lima, Ohio for many years.  Dr. Craven went on to practice in Memphis, Tennessee, and Dr. King opened a practice in Albany, New York.  Dr. Terry, after an additional year of training in Pittsburgh and some time spent in research with Dr. Jonas Salk, eventually returned to Columbus and served as a valuable, long-time member of the community faculty.

The faculty grew again in 1956 with the addition of Dr. Robert Duran, who brought a special interest in surgery of the hand and upper extremity. Dr. Duran was a graduate of the University of Oklahoma who had trained at the Mayo Clinic. Members of the division were active in research and published between three and five papers per year in the interval between 1955 and 1960.  Most of the papers dealt with clinical topics (upper extremity infections, facial trauma, Pierre Robin Sequence).  Also during this interval, the Plastic Surgery service was expanded and assigned its own beds in University Hospital (as opposed to earlier years when the service shared bed assignments with General Surgery).  In addition, the Ohio Society of Plastic Surgeons was established, and all the faculty became members of the Society.  A monthly Journal Club was initiated during the 1958-1959 academic year.

In 1959 Dr. Bruce Martin’s illness forced his retirement, and Dr. Trabue was named acting director of the division.  In this transition period, Drs. Hugh Beatty and Donald Pelliciari assisted with some of the plastic surgery care at the University Hospital; Dr. Beatty retired and Dr. Pelliciari left the community in 1960.  Also in 1960 Dr. Duran replaced Dr. Trabue as the acting director.  Shortly thereafter, Dr. H. William Porterfield, a graduate of Jefferson Medical College, with a special interest in the care of children with cleft lip and palate, was added to the clinical faculty.

The first full-time director of the division, Dr. James E. Bennett, joined the Ohio State faculty in July 1961 (previous directors all also had outside, private practices).  Dr. Bennett had trained in General Surgery at the University of Michigan and then in Plastic Surgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston under the tutelage of Dr. Truman G. Blocker, Jr.  In that same year, Dr. Trabue was elected to membership in the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, the first OSU surgeon to achieve this distinction.  During Dr. Bennett’s tenure as director, the division offices and clinics were established in the North Wing of University Hospital, and the activities of the service were greatly expanded.  A weekly Plastic Surgery conference was initiated.  The number of publications grew substantially (9 in the 1961-1962 academic year).  Dr. Bennett chose to suspend resident appointments while he worked to strengthen the clinical and academic productivity of the division; therefore, there were no more residents in Plastic Surgery during this time.

In 1964 Dr. Bennett left OSU to assume the directorship of Plastic Surgery at the University of Indiana.  Dr. Duran returned to his role of acting director while the search for a new permanent director was undertaken; in that same year Dr. Clarence A. Maxwell, an OSU Medical graduate, was appointed to the clinical faculty.

In July 1965 Dr. Ronald B. Berggren was appointed by Dr. Zollinger to a full-time position as director of the division.  Dr. Berggren had trained in general surgery and plastic surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  His mentors included Dr. Henry Royster and Dr. Peter Randall.  With the appointment of Dr. Berggren, research, clinical care and student teaching efforts were greatly expanded.  Dr. Berggren established a Burn Unit at University Hospital, which remained under the direction of Plastic Surgery until 2006.  OSU hosted the Plastic Surgery Research Council meeting in 1974, with Dr. Berggren as Chair.  Between 1965 and 1975 a number of additional Plastic Surgeons were added to the clinical faculty, including: Dr. Robert G. Houser, Dr. Lester R. Mohler, Dr. James A. Lehman, Jr., and Dr. James W. Ferraro.

Under Dr. Berggren’s direction the residency program in Plastic Surgery was reactivated, and Dr. Richard Mattison was appointed to begin training in July 1968.  He was followed the next year by Dr. Anthony Sokol.  The program was approved for a total of three residents, with assignments to University Hospitals and Children’s Hospital.  Between 1970 and 1975 a total of six residents completed their training at OSU (see list of residents).  Dr. Mattison remained as a full-time faculty member for one year after completing his training, then returned to his home state of Georgia.  Dr. Sokol returned to California and opened a private practice in Beverly Hills, where he had grown up.  At the time of this writing (2014) he is still actively practicing and has made many international missions on behalf of Operation Smile.

In 1979 a major change in the residency program was instituted.  For a number of years a separate residency program existed at Riverside Methodist Hospital.  Much of the educational component of the Riverside program was conducted at OSU.  The leaders of the two programs recognized the value of a joint effort, and a city-wide program including Riverside and Mt. Carmel Medical Center, along with OSU Hospitals and Children’s Hospital, was established.  This city-wide program was approved for training a total of five residents, with alternating “classes” of two or three residents.Dr. Robert Ruberg joined the full-time faculty in July 1975, after completing training in General and Plastic Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  With an additional full time faculty member, an expansion of teaching, research, publication and clinical care occurred.  Multiple additional appointments to the clinical faculty were made over the next five years, including: Dr. Michael S. Lehv, Dr. Judith B. Zacher, Dr. Gerald Drabyn, and Dr. Arthur G. Bing.

Once the new structure of the residency was in place there were many additions to the clinical faculty over the ensuing years, particularly members of the Riverside and Mt. Carmel staffs who now assumed important teaching roles for the residents rotating through their institutions.  Dr. James Nappi, a graduate of the OSU residency who also had completed hand fellowship training at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, served as a full-time faculty member between 1983 and 1986, then moved to Riverside as a member of the clinical faculty. Dr. Henry R. Redmon served as a junior faculty member for a year after completing the residency in 1983, then returned to Tampa, Florida to establish a private practice.  Dr. Jeremy Burdge finished his residency in 1984, and worked at OSU Hospital for several years as assistant director of the Burn Unit.  In addition to Drs. Nappi, Redmon and Burdge, 18 residents (see resident list) completed their training at OSU between 1976 and 1985, and took positions in practices all across the country.

In 1985 Dr. Ronald Berggren resigned as chief of the division.  At the time he observed that “20 years was enough time” for a chief to serve, and a fresh approach was in order.  Dr. Ruberg was appointed as division chief and residency program director.  Dr. Berggren was granted emeritus status in 1987, but continued to practice with Riverside and Children’s as his principal sites, and remained involved in residency education until he stopped practice entirely in 1998.  Dr. Berggren was very involved in national Plastic Surgery activities throughout this time.  His many prestigious positions included: Chair of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, President of the Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation, President of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, and Chair of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, among many others.

Dr. Brentley A. Buchele joined the full-time faculty in 1987, having completed his training in general surgery at the University of Iowa and in plastic surgery at Southern Illinois University under the direction of Dr. Elvin Zook.  Dr. Buchele immediately assumed a major role in the division’s educational program, and also developed a very busy practice in all aspects of plastic surgery, including Hand surgery.

In 1991 Dr. Milton B. Armstrong was added to the faculty as a third full-time member.  Dr. Armstrong received his general surgery training at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and his plastic surgery training at Tulane.  He also completed a Hand fellowship in Houston at St. Luke’s Episcopal and Texas Children’s Hospitals.  Dr. Armstrong added another dimension to the teaching program, and took a leadership role in the Hand surgery program.  He served as a faculty member in the joint Orthopedic Surgery / Plastic Surgery Hand Fellowship.  For a period of time he also served as Assistant Dean for Minority Affairs in the OSU College of Medicine.  Dr. Armstrong remained on the faculty until 1998, when he moved to the University of Miami.  In 2009,  Dr. Armstrong was appointed Chief of Plastic Surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina, in Charleston.

In 1991 another important change was made in the residency program.  With the support and encouragement of the Chief of Surgery, Dr. Olga Jonasson, a combined general surgery/plastic surgery track was established as part of a special, “coordinated” six year curriculum.  OSU was one of the first two institutions to match residents directly out of medical school for “combined” plastic surgery training—four years of specially structured general surgery rotations followed by two years of plastic surgery.  The first of these “combined” residents started as PGY-1 surgical residents in 1992.  Between 1986 and 1995, twenty-five residents completed their training at OSU (see resident list), and additional Clinical faculty members were added to support the program in the community hospitals.

OSU Plastic Surgery underwent significant expansion starting in 1997.  By the turn of the century Dr. Rafael E. Villalobos, Dr. Gayle M. Gordillo and Dr. Bivik Shah had all been appointed to the full-time faculty.  All three were graduates of the OSU residency.  Drs. Villalobos and Shah focused principally on clinical care, while Dr. Gordillo worked to establish what was to become a highly productive research program, both in the laboratory and clinical settings, ultimately culminating in NIH funding.  In addition, Dr. Gordillo initiated a new multidisciplinary Vascular Malformations Clinic at Children’s Hospital.

When Drs. Armstrong, Shah and Villalobos left the full-time faculty over the ensuing years, their places were taken for varying periods of time by Dr. Loree Kalliainen, Dr. James Bruno and Dr. Matthew Rosenberg.  During these years Dr. Ruberg served in many important national roles, including: President of the Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation, Chair of the Residency Review Committee for Plastic Surgery, and President of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons.

The next major change in leadership of the division took place in March 2004 when Dr. Ruberg, using the same logic that Dr. Berggren had applied almost 20 years before, stepped down after 19 years as chief and was replaced by Dr. Buchele.  Dr. Buchele had already assumed responsibility as Program Director for the residency two years before.  Dr. Buchele successfully established an off-campus office for the division, greatly improving the clinical environment of the practice.  Dr. Gregory D. Pearson, a graduate of the OSU residency, returned from Craniofacial fellowship training in Indiana to join the full time faculty at both OSU and Children’s hospitals in 2005.  Under Dr. Pearson’s leadership Children’s added a special multidisciplinary Complex Craniofacial day to the existing Clinic schedule.  Between 1996 and 2005, twenty-six residents completed their training at OSU (see resident list), and additional Clinical faculty members were added in the community hospitals.

Dr. Buchele resigned as Chief of the division and left OSU in February 2006 to enter private practice in Kalispell, Montana.  Dr. Ruberg was appointed as interim Chief, and a national search was undertaken.  The search was greatly facilitated by the strong support of the Chair of the Department of Surgery, Dr. E. Christopher Ellison, who convinced OSU leadership that investment in Plastic Surgery would strengthen the institution.  The search culminated in the appointment of Dr. Michael J. Miller, a 1989 graduate of the OSU program, as Chief in February 2007.  Dr. Miller, an internationally recognized figure in reconstructive surgery, had completed a fellowship in Microsurgery at Tulane and was serving as Vice-chair of Plastic Surgery at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Miller arrived at OSU in 2007, and immediately initiated a rapid expansion of the division, with a greatly increased role in reconstructive surgery at OSU Medical Center and especially at the James Cancer Hospital.  New full time faculty appointed later in 2007 included: Dr. Pankaj Tiwari, who had completed a Microsurgery fellowship at M. D. Anderson Hospital; Dr. Anne Taylor, who joined the faculty to assume responsibility for the Aesthetic program after 10 years of private practice in Columbus; and Dr. William Wallace, a graduate of the OSU program, whose special role was to interface with the bariatric surgery program.  A Complex Wound Service, under the direction of Dr. Gordillo, was established at University Hospitals.  In 2008 Dr. James Boehmler, also an M.D. Anderson-trained Microsurgeon, was brought on board to help support the growing reconstructive surgery program.

By the end of 2008 the division was poised to enter the next phase of its development.  Early in 2008 the program received permanent approval from the Residency Review Committee for Plastic Surgery to train and “graduate” three residents every year.  Later in 2008 the program applied for, and received permission for, conversion to a fully integrated program and for an increase in the length of plastic surgery training to three years.  These changes were initiated in July 2009.  Under this plan there were now two “integrated” residents per year in a six year program, and one “independent” resident per year in the final three years of training.  When fully activated, the program encompasses a total of 15 residents in Plastic Surgery over 6 years of training.

At the same time, in addition to the ACGME-approved Plastic Surgery residency, a one year fellowship in Microsurgery was added to the educational offerings.  Dr. Nabil Habash (resident, 2007-2009) was selected as the first Microsurgery fellow, and began training in 2009.  Another major advance for Plastic Surgery in 2009 was the opening of the OSU office facility at Gowdy Field, with ample space for academic and clinical Plastic Surgery offices, plus an outpatient operating room on the first floor.  In that same year, Drs. Ergun Kocak, Brian Janz and Brian Porshinsky were added to the full time faculty.  Dr. Kocak, an OSU residency graduate and MD Anderson trained microsurgeon, further strengthened the reconstructive team while at the same time initiating basic science research with an emphasis in immunology.  Drs. Janz and Porshinsky supplemented the Hand and Burn Services for a short period of time, before leaving the University for other academic institutions.  The first Annual Ruberg Symposium, featuring guest speakers as well as alumni of the OSU Plastic Surgery residency, was held in September 2009.

Two major milestones for Plastic Surgery occurred in 2010.  First, Plastic Surgery was granted Departmental status by the University in October, 2010.  Dr. Ellison again was a strong supporter and helped to facilitate this important transition. Dr. Miller was named acting Chair of the Department, and ultimately was officially appointed Chair in July, 2012.   Second, during 2010 Dr. Ruberg stepped down as the Chief of Plastic Surgery at the newly renamed Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH), and Dr. Richard E. Kirschner was recruited to serve as the new Chief.   Dr. Kirschner was a graduate of the University of Miami School of Medicine; he trained in General Surgery at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and in Plastic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, and did additional fellowship training at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In 2011 the full-time faculty at OSU was expanded to include: Dr. Albert Chao, another Anderson-trained microsurgeon; Dr. Alok Sutradhar, a PhD whose role was to continue the basic science research in biomechanical modeling that he and Dr. Miller had been pursuing for years; and Dr. Melissa Kinder, a graduate of the OSU residency who served a support role on the faculty for a year before beginning her Hand Surgery fellowship in Oregon.  Also in 2011, the Stephanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center opened in close proximity to the Plastic Surgery offices at Gowdy Field, and OSU Plastic Surgery assumed a permanent, daily presence at this new Center.  During the 2011-2012 academic year, Dr. Ruberg served as the Interim Vice Dean for Education in the College of Medicine; at the end of that year he was granted Emeritus Status.

Dr. Kirschner greatly expanded the Plastic Surgery presence at NCH by adding Dr. Adriane Baylis, a speech scientist, and Dr. Maya Spaeth, a Hand surgery specialist and former OSUPS resident, to the full-time faculty in 2012.  (Throughout this time, Dr. Gregory Pearson continued his role at NCH in the care of cleft lip, cleft palate and craniofacial patients.)  Also in 2012, Dr. Sonu Jain, a fellowship-trained Hand surgeon, was appointed to the University faculty (in both Orthpaedics and Plastic Surgery).  Between 2006 and 2012, 21 additional residents (see Resident list) completed their training at OSU.

Important changes in the Plastic Surgery faculty occurred during the 2013-2014 academic year: Dr. Peter Spalding, a nationally-recognized cleft and craniofacial orthodontist, joined the rapidly-expanding team at NCH; Dr. David Dean, a PhD with expertise in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, supplemented the growing research division of the department; and Dr. Jeffrey Janis, a highly-acclaimed educator and surgeon, was brought on to serve as Executive Vice Chair of the Department. (Dr. Spalding left the faculty later in the 2013-2014 academic year, as did Doctors Boehmler, Tiwari and Kocak.)    In addition, Dr. Canice Crerand, a psychologist with special expertise in facial appearance and cleft care joined the OSU faculty with a joint appointment in Pediatrics and Plastic Surgery; and Dr. Rajiv Chandawarkar, another MD Anderson microsurgery-trained plastic surgeon, moved from the University of Connecticut to OSU.

To replace departed faculty members, two more microsurgeons, both also from MD Anderson, joined the faculty later in 2014: Dr. David Cabiling, a recent fellowship graduate, and Dr. Roman Skoracki, a highly-respected senior surgeon.  Dr. Skoracki immediately instituted an innovative program in Lymphedema Surgery.  In addition, Dr. Ian Valerio, a decorated US Navy veteran, joined the faculty, bringing a special interest in limb preservation and reconstruction.  In the following year the faculty added two more microsurgeons: Dr. Noopur Gangopadhay and Dr. Maristella Evangelista.  Dr. Maya Spaeth left the Nationwide Children’s Hospital hand faculty and was replaced by Dr. Kim Bjorklund.  Also, Dr. Michelle Scott was hired at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to direct the Craniofacial Orthodontics program.

OSU Plastic Surgery remains fully staffed to take on the challenges of Plastic Surgery research, teaching and clinical care in the Twenty-first Century.

updated: October 1, 2016