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The Stanley R. Friesen Lecture in the History of Surgery

Stanley R. Friesen, M.D., Ph.D. (1918-2008)

Dr. Stanley R. Friesen, M.D., Ph.D. (M.D., Kansas 1943; Ph.D., Minnesota, 1948) served the University of Kansas Medical Center for forty years, retiring as Professor Emeritus of Surgery in June of 1989. Throughout his long tenure, he was known by many as a scholar, teacher, medical humanist and promoter of the arts. Initially appointed in 1949 to the Faculty of Surgery as Assistant Professor, Dr. Friesen had then just completed his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, which in many ways culminated with five years of surgical training under the luminous and influential, Dr. Owen Wangensteen.

Having returned to Kansas, he began a fruitful career as a researcher, clinician, and teacher-scholar. As a researcher he claimed as his own the domain of endocrine surgery, and made numerous, internationally recognized contributions in the area of G.I. and G.I. endocrine disease. He remained especially proud of his book, Classic Discoveries of Neuroendocrine Syndromes of the Pancreas and Gut, which perhaps drew inspiration from another stalwart and impressive physician-humanist, Ralph Hermon Major, and his Classic Descriptions of Disease. As a teacher, Dr. Friesen was no less impressive. He trained numerous surgeons over the decades, while receiving many awards, including the Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence, as well as other awards designated and given by the Executive Vice Chancellor and the Alumni Association among others. 

Robert P. Hudson, M.D. once characterized his friend and colleague in much the same way that William Osler had the "compleat" physician; that is, as one having all the excellent qualities of the action-oriented surgeon and the reflective physician. A true man of thought and action was Dr. Stanley Friesen. For those that knew him, Dr. Friesen was a humanist, lover of the arts, and always maintained a deep-seated appreciation for the depths of human potential. An excellent musician, he played a variety of instruments in his high school orchestra, but settled on the piano. It was said that he even considered a career as a concert pianist before a calling to a medical career won out! In 1995, and having effectively acclimated to the active leisure of retirement, he secured a position as a visiting scholar at the University of Cambridge. During his time in Cambridge, he undertook research on what would become a book-length study titled, Erasmus: Paradigm of Renaissance Humanism. Since its institution in 2010, the Friesen Lecture continues to attract a number of influential scholars in the history of surgery, including:

2010 - Shelley McKellar
, "The Man Who Had Three Hearts: Cardiac Transplantation, Artificial Hearts, and the Allure of Organ Replacement in the 1960s America"
2011 - Carin Berkowitz, "The Surgeon's Knowing Hand: Teaching Systems of Anatomy in Britain, 1750-1830" 
2012 - Peter Kernahan, "Standardization and the Surgeon: Lessons from the Past" 
2013 - Thomas Schlich, "'Roads Not Taken': Alternative Innovation in Surgery" 
2014 - Wen Shen, "Dissecting the Surgeon: The History and Evolution of the Surgical Personality" 
2015 - Behrooz Akbarnia, "Historical Evolution of the Scoliosis Research Society and Spinal Deformity Care" 
2016 - Justin Barr, "Surgical Repair of Arteries in War and Peace, 1880-1960"
2017 - Jean-Philippe Gendron, "Cancer, Peptic Ulcer and Obesity. Shifting Rationales in Gastric Surgery: 1880 - 1980."
2018 - Domenico Bertoloni Meli, "Between Surgery and Art: Fabricius Hildanus, Frederik Ruysch,  and the Representation of Bone Lesions"

KU School of Medicine

University of Kansas Medical Center
History and Philosophy of Medicine

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