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In Memoriam: Stanley Dudrick, MD

January 22, 2020

It is with deep sadness that the Department of Surgery shares news of the passing of Professor Emeritus Stanley J. Dudrick, MD. Dr. Dudrick’s pioneering research in the efficacy of intravenous feeding has transformed modern surgery, and—since 1968—continues to save the lives of millions of acutely ill children and adults.

He was the first president and founder of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), a clinical research and education organization that has grown to 6,500 since Dr. Dudrick established the association in 1975.

“Dr. Dudrick questioned conventional wisdom, and inspired an odyssey of discovery that fundamentally changed our understanding of the nutritional needs of critically ill patients. His story speaks to power of curiosity to change the world,” said Department of Surgery Chair, Dr. Nita Ahuja.

Dr. Dudrick’s distinguished academic career spanned more than 40 years, including his selection as chair of the Department of Surgery at Saint Mary’s Hospital, a Yale teaching hospital; and at Bridgeport Hospital/Yale New Haven Health System. He also served as professor of surgery (gastrointestinal) at Yale School of Medicine; and adjunct clinical professor of surgery of Quinnipiac College, Bridgeport Hospital/Yale New Haven Health System.

“Dr. Dudrick was an advocate for resident education. He always had an anecdote from his own experience as a resident, showing how his lessons were real. He lived liked us and succeeded, showing us that we could do it too,” said professor of surgery (vascular), Dr. Alan Dardik.

In 2007, Dr. Dudrick was named chair emeritus, Department of Surgery and director emeritus of the Program in Surgery at Saint Mary’s Hospital and at Yale. He remained active for many years.

“More than anything he was a loving family man ... and enjoyed his simple rural lifestyle as he was brought up in,” said Walter E. Longo, division chief of Colon and Rectal Surgery.

Dr. Dudrick's story speaks to power of curiosity to change the world.

Nita Ahuja, MD, Department of Surgery Chair

A native of Pennsylvania, Dr. Dudrick graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a B.S. degree in biology with honors in 1957. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1961; completed his internship and residency there, and soon joined the faculty, rising in rank from instructor to professor of surgery within five years.

He served as the founding chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. He returned to chair the department of surgery at University of Pennsylvania, before joining the Yale community.

ASPEN cites a 2006 interview with Dr. Dudrick, during which he said: “I hope that I would be remembered as somebody who truly, greatly appreciates the privilege of having spent a wonderful life with wonderful parents, family, teachers, mentors, colleagues, residents, fellows, students, staff, friends, and patients, who have contributed so much to enrich my life and to allow me to feel that I might have achieved some of my own goals and aspirations and whatever the purpose or purposes were of my creator.”

Dr. Dudrick died on January 19, 2020. He was 84.

The American College of Surgeons Connecticut Chapter has published memorial service details.

Submitted by Cecelia Smith on January 23, 2020