Stanley J. Dudrick, M.D., F.A.C.S., a world-renowned medical pioneer, and the Robert S. Anderson endowed chairperson and founding medical director of the physician assistant program at Misericordia University, passed away on Jan. 18 at his home in New Hampshire after an illness. He was 84.
Known as the "father of intravenous feeding," Dr. Dudrick developed total parenteral nutrition or TPN, while he was serving as a surgical resident at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital from 1961-66. The technique, which allows people who cannot eat to be fed through a tube that bypasses their intestines, is credited with saving the lives of millions of acutely ill people, according to the American College of Surgeons.
"Stan Dudrick was internationally known as a physician who changed the lives of countless people through his pioneering work,'' Misericordia University President Thomas J. Botzman said. "Moreover, he was a lifelong teacher of others as he sought to share his excitement and enthusiasm for bettering the lives of others. He was an incredible friend to all at Misericordia University and will fondly be remembered as a humble physician from Nanticoke who changed the world to be a better place. We send our prayers to his wife, Terri, and his family.''
"With the passing of Dr. Dudrick, medicine has lost one of its most inspirational leaders,'' American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN) President Lingtak-Neander Chan, PharmD., B.C.N.S.P., said about the first president and founder of ASPEN. "Dr. Dudrick will be remembered as a healer and visionary whose kindness has deeply touched many people, and whose achievements have changed the lives of many.''
During his career, Dr. Dudrick trained tens of thousands of medical students, thousands of surgeons, established a medical school in Texas, and also became internationally known as an expert in fistula surgery, complex re-operative surgery, intestinal failure, surgical metabolism and nutrition, and much more.
Many of his medical colleagues from around the world acknowledged his contributions to medicine and humankind. His development of intravenous feeding is recognized as one of the four most significant accomplishments in the history of the development of modern surgery and one of the three most important advancements in surgery during the past century along with open heart surgery and organ transplantation.
ASPEN, which he established with 34 other health care professionals in 1975 as an interdisciplinary association for the purpose of providing optimal nutrition to all people, presented him with the organization's inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. In 2016, Medscape named him one of the 50 most influential physicians in history, ranking him 42nd among his historical peers in medicine. The American College of Surgeons named him a "Hero in Surgery" in 2014, one of only four people to receive the distinction.
Many other national and international medical societies and related affiliations have honored him for his contributions to medicine. Among his many illustrious honors, the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition established the annual Stanley J. Dudrick Research Scholar Award in 1985. St. Mary's Hospital, a Yale associated teaching hospital, named its Department of Surgery after him in 2009. The American Surgical Association bestowed its highest honor in 2009 by awarding him the Medallion for Scientific Achievement for Distinguished Service to Surgery. In 2011, Dr. Dudrick received the Legends of Neonatology Award and the Nathan Smith, MD Distinguished Service Award from the New England Surgical Society for his scientific and clinical contributions.
A hospital in Skawina, Poland was named the Stanley J. Dudrick Hospital in 2012. The City of Nanticoke and local state legislators celebrated Dr. Dudrick Day in his hometown on July 19, 2017, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his invention of TPN. They presented him with a street sign and historical marker honoring his accomplishments.
In a 2012 interview, Dr. Dudrick reflected on his remarkable career and the work that remains to improve medical care and training of future health care professionals. "I am humbled by how much more needs to be done,'' he said for an article that appeared in the Misericordia University Research Brochure, 2011-12. "I get frustrated at times by the attitude among many of my fellow human beings who question why I am still pushing. What you did was great; wasn't that enough?
"They have a hard time understanding that I am not happy enough with the way things are. I would like to see health care and education continue to progress and advance. What drives me is the philosophy of Benjamin Franklin, which is to work every day to discover and produce new, useful knowledge. I'm addicted to the basic concept of producing new knowledge overall, but especially if we can make it useful and relevant to maximally improve the human condition.
"That is the fundamental reason that I am here at Misericordia – investing in educating and training our future leaders who will take us to the next level of excellence in serving humanity," Dr. Dudrick concluded.
Dr. Dudrick graduated cum laude with his Bachelor of Science degree in biology with honors from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. His medical degree was conferred by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. After his residency training, he joined the faculty at Penn and ascended in rank from instructor to professor of surgery in five years. In 1972, he was recruited to Houston as the first professor and founding chairperson of the Department of Surgery at the new University of Texas Medical School, and chief of surgical services at Hermann Hospital/The University Hospital.
He has also served as chair of the Department of Surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital, and surgeon to the hospital, director of the Residency Training Program in General Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Dudrick later was appointed surgeon-in-chief of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease and director of the Hermann Nutrition and Human Performance Center, the Nutritional Support Service and the Nutritional Science Center at Hermann Hospital.
Dr. Dudrick began serving as associate chair of the Department of Surgery and director of the Program in Surgery at St. Mary's Hospital, and as a professor of surgery at Yale University School of Medicine in 1994. One year later, he became director of Graduate Medical Education at Saint Mary's Hospital. Dr. Dudrick also served two years as chair of the Department of Surgery and director of Surgical Education for the newly integrated Bridgeport Hospital/Yale New Haven Health System.
In addition, he was professor of surgery at Geisinger Commonwealth Medical College in Scranton; chairman emeritus in the Department of Surgery and director emeritus of Program in Surgery at Saint Mary's Hospital, and professor emeritus of surgery at Yale University School of Medicine.
Dr. Dudrick also authored or co-authored more than 2,500 scientific reference citations in Current Contents; served on more than 15 editorial boards of scientific journals and professional publications; presented more than 120 honors and awards, and produced several books, including the American College of Surgeons Manual of Surgical Nutrition, which he served as co-editor.