Walter A. Pories Oral History Interview, July 30, 2020

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Summary

Creator:
Duke University. Medical Center. Department of Surgery. and Duke University. Medical Center. Department of Medicine.
Abstract:
Dr. Walter J. Pories, MD, Professor of Surgery, Biochemistry and Kinesiology at East Carolina University is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and received his MD with Honor at the University of Rochester where he also completed his surgical training in general and cardio-thoracic surgery. He served on the faculties of the University of Rochester, Case Western Reserve and East Carolina University where he served as the founding Chairman of Surgery for 19 years. He is currently the Director of the Bariatric Surgery Research Group. This collection contains 1 oral history interview conducted on July 30, 2020 by Taylor Patterson as part of the Dr. David Sabiston Oral History Project. In the interview, Pories discusses his early life; education; decision to enter the medical profession; his career; how Sabiston helped him recruit for the Department of Surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University (ECU) when it first started; Sabiston's contributions to the field of surgery through his skill as a surgeon, training surgeons, and his leadership in the American College of Surgeons; and other memories of Sabiston and his wife, Aggie.
Extent:
1 Interview (1 transcript) and 10.8 MB
Collection ID:
OH.PORIESW

Background

Scope and content:

Includes 1 oral history interview with Dr. Walter J. Pories conducted on July 30, 2020 by Taylor Patterson as part of the Dr. David Sabiston Oral History Project.

In the July 30, 2020 interview, Pories discusses his early life; education; decision to enter the medical profession; his career; how Sabiston helped him recruit for the Department of Surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University (ECU) when it first started; Sabiston's contributions to the field of surgery through his skill as a surgeon, training surgeons, and his leadership in the American College of Surgeons; and other memories of Sabiston and his wife, Aggie.

Biographical / historical:

Dr. Walter J. Pories, MD, earned his BA at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he was also a member and treasurer of the Mu Epsilon Chapter of Beta Theta Pi. He received his MD with Honor at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, where he also completed his surgical training in general and cardio-thoracic surgery. Upon graduation from medical school, he joined the USAF for 12 years of service, rendering primary care and obstetrics in France and serving as a part-time fellow in head and neck surgery at the University of Nancy in Lorraine, France. Following his internship, he returned to the University of Rochester to complete is surgical training and serve a year as a biochemist in the Manhattan Project.

After residency and certification in general and cardio-thoracic surgery, he was named Chief of Surgery at Wright Patterson AFB for five years of the Vietnam War. In 1967, after 12 years as a career military officer, he returned to Rochester as Assistant Professor in an active practice of vascular and head and neck cancer surgery. During those two years, he founded and directed the cancer center at the University. In 1969, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to become the Vice-Chair of the Department of Surgery at the Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital where he founded and directed that city's cancer center. In 1977, he became the founding Chair of the Department of Surgery of East Carolina University (ECU) (1977-1990) where he maintained a busy surgical practice with a focus on pediatric, thoracic, and bariatric surgery. After stepping down as Chair, he was Director of the Metabolic Surgery Research Group at ECU. In 1978, he joined the Army reserves and served as the Commander of the 3274th USA Hospital. He retired from the US Army with the rank of Colonel after 24 years of service.

In 1980, he developed the current version of the gastric bypass and was the first to document that the operation produced durable weight loss and the full remission of type 2 diabetes in 83%, even after 9.2 years with a reduction of mortality by 735. To improve the national outcomes from bariatric surgery, he founded the Surgical Review Corporation that developed the international Bariatric Surgery Centers of Excellence Program, as well as developing the BOLD database that led to a reduction of the 90 day mortality in the US from about 10% to 0.3%. He was also the first to develop a postgraduate curriculum for graduate surgical education, published through four editions.

His research interests have been in nutrition, pediatric, and bariatric surgery, which have led to his discovery that zinc is an essential element and required for wound healing, the development of animal feeds and the addition of trace elements to parenteral and alimentary formulations. He was the first to describe wound suction and the cisterna chyli/vena cava anastomosis. He was also the first to describe the full and durable remission of type 2 diabetes following the gastric bypass. His current research interest is the molecular explanation why type 2 diabetes clears within a matter of days following bariatric surgery His group has had uninterrupted funding from the NIH for over three decades.

He served as President of the Society for Environmental Health and Geochemistry, the Association of Program Directors in Surgery, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, as the 2nd Vice President of the American College of Surgeons, and Vice President of the Southern Surgical Association, as well as editor-in- chief and associate editor of several journals. He is the recipient of a number of research honors, including the Goldwater Award in Nutrition, the McGovern Award, the O.Max Joyner Award among others. He retired from the US Army after 24 years of service with a Legion of Merit and a Presidential Citation for his Unit's performance as Regimental Commander in the first Gulf War.

Pories is married to Dr. Mary Ann Rose, Professor at the ECU College of Nursing, and they have six children. The couple lives on a farm with cattle, goats, soybeans, deer, dogs, cats, and even a small family of bears in the "low grounds" next to the Tar River. His hobbies include cooking, cartooning and watercolors.

Acquisition information:
Accession A2021.018 (transferred by Mary-Russell Roberson, February 2021)
Processing information:

Processed by Lucy Waldrop: February 2021

Arrangement:
Organized into the following series: Interview, July 30, 2020.
Rules or conventions:
DACS

Contents

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Restrictions:

None.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Walter J. Pories Oral History Interview, Duke University Medical Center Archives.