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Dennis W. Vane, M.D., M.B.A., chief of the division of pediatric surgery at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and surgeon-in-chief of SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, has been named the inaugural holder of the J. Eugene Lewis Jr., M.D. Chair in Pediatric Surgery.

Funded by the Board of Governors of Cardinal Glennon’s Children’s Foundation, the chair is named for James Eugene Lewis Jr., M.D., who served as the chief of pediatric surgery from the time Cardinal Glennon opened in 1956 until his retirement in 1983.

“The honor of being the inaugural named chair is truly humbling, and the fact that this chair is named for an individual like Dr. Lewis makes this even more humbling and certainly the highest honor of my career,” Vane said.

“Dr. Lewis is one of the icons of pediatric surgery and the contributions he has made to our field are far too numerous to enumerate. The fact that I was even considered for this position and that Dr. Lewis is a part of the investiture ceremony is more than I can put into words.” 

Vane joined Saint Louis University and SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in August. The international reputation of the University and Cardinal Glennon and state-of-the-art surgical facilities were only part of the attraction, Vane said.

“What sets SLU and Cardinal Glennon apart from other institutions I have worked at and been associated with is the way these institutions live their missions. Never once since I arrived here has anyone even mentioned the economic status or insurance status of the children we serve,” Vane said.

“The attitude of everyone who works here is ‘how can we make this a better experience for the children that have to be here?’ This atmosphere is palpable and contagious and you can feel it when you walk in the door. I'm proud to be a part of that.”

As holder of an endowed chair, Vane is recognized as one of Saint Louis University’s finest scholars, who will spur his colleagues to conduct life-changing research and encourage students in their chosen careers, which influences them for life.

He praised the generosity of donors who support endowed chairs because they help secure the future of academic medicine.

“Positions like this allow individuals like me to concentrate on the areas of academic medicine that we love: taking care of children, no matter what their economic status; teaching the next generation of physicians; and furthering our knowledge through clinical and basic research,” Vane said.

“Positions like this also provide support so that we can mentor young faculty and help them develop their careers so that they can become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Before coming to SLU, Vane had been chairman of pediatric surgery at the University of Vermont and surgeon-in-chief at Vermont Children’s Hospital. He also served as associate professor of surgery and pediatrics at Indiana University.

A native of New York City, Vane earned his bachelor’s degree at Cornell University and his medical degree at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium. He completed his general surgical residency at Indiana University College of Medicine and his residency in pediatric surgery at the Ohio State University. He also received a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Vermont.

Vane is a nationally renowned pediatric surgeon who holds appointments as an officer or member of more than 20 international professional organizations. He has written more than 100 manuscripts and book chapters about experimental and clinical research for the care of children. He serves on the editorial boards of multiple peer-reviewed journals and has been recognized as an outstanding teacher and educator. His research interests include trauma care and emergency medical services for children.

Vane’s wife Jerrie is a practicing nurse, and they are the parents of two adult sons.         

The formal ceremony to invest Vane as the J. Eugene Lewis Jr., M.D. Chair in Pediatric Surgery was Tuesday, Nov. 18.

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