Trauma surgeon named to new U professorship

Eric Cherland

Dr. John Weigelt, chief of staff at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, was recently named to a new professorship that will bring $500,000 to strengthen trauma surgery education at the University.
The Dr. John F. Perry Professorship in Trauma Surgery is an endowment funded by grants from the Regions Hospital Foundation and the Minnesota Medical Foundation. Weigelt has been named to determine how the money will be used.
“It is an endowment to support educational goals of the professorship,” Weigelt said. “In this case, the focus is on trauma surgery.” The funds can be used for research or training; how the money will be spent has yet to be determined.
Weigelt, who serves as one of three vice chairmen at the University’s Department of Surgery, came to the University in July 1992 after serving at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as professor of surgery and chairman of the Trauma and Surgical Center.
Weigelt has earned international recognition in the field of trauma surgery. He received the Owen H. Wangensteen Award for Excellence in Teaching during his first year at the University.
In 1991, Weigelt and Dr. Mark Raymond Wallace teamed up via satellite to save the life an American soldier who was wounded during a SCUD missile attack. In 1995, the two created the Weigelt-Wallace Award to recognize exceptional cases of patient care throughout the world.
The professorship honors Perry, chief of surgery at St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center (now called Regions Hospital) from 1962 until just prior to his death from cancer in 1990. Perry earned his doctorate from the University in 1958 and served as a professor for many years.
Perry was an innovator in emergency room trauma procedure. He started the nationally acclaimed Regions Hospital Burn Unit.
Perry also pioneered an emergency operating room modeled after the M.A.S.H. units in the Korean War. The concept enabled surgeons to assess the extent of internal injuries to multi-trauma patients. Many of the techniques he developed have since become standard emergency room procedure.
Regions Hospital has established itself as a “level one” trauma center, the highest rating of excellence, thanks to the efforts of Perry and Weigelt.
Weigelt was brought to the area by St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center and the University to further Perry’s ideas. The two knew each other through national contacts and met several times at trauma meetings.