ALMANAC BETWEEN ISSUES January 3, 2002
Dr. Jonathan E. Rhoads, HUP Surgery
Dr. Jonathan E. Rhoads, an internationally known surgeon who pioneered the development of intravenous nutrition, died January 3 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He was 94 and had worked at the hospital for almost 70 years starting as a junior doctor in 1932 and progressing to become Chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1959 to 1972. He remained active on the faculty of the Penn Medical School up to his final hospitalization.
Dr. Rhoads was one of the most prominent surgeons of his generation. He edited a leading textbook in the field that was first published in 1957 and went through four editions. He pursued an active laboratory research program through most of his career that focused particularly on nutrition in surgical patients. His work culminated with the development of an intravenous nutrient mixture that was demonstrated for the first time to be capable of supporting normal growth in young animals and in children with severe bowel disease who received no food by mouth. This approach, known as total parenteral nutrition, is now widely used to support patients who are unable to eat. Dr. Rhoads and his younger colleague, Stanley Dudrick, received the Goldberger Award from the American Medical Association for this work.
Dr. Rhoads was recognized for his work in cancer surgery and was active with the American Cancer Society, serving as its President in 1969-70 and for two decades as Editor of its medical journal, Cancer. He was appointed by President Nixon to the National Cancer Advisory Board which he chaired from 1972 to 1979. He had a knack for moving issues through boards and committees, which together with his indefatigable work habit led him to leadership positions in several of the major U.S. and international surgical associations including the American College of Surgeons, the International Federation of Surgical Colleges, and the International Surgical Group. He served terms as President of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and as President of the American Philosophical Society, for which he co-chaired the 250th Anniversary of its founding by Benjamin Franklin. He was also a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Rhoads was a close colleague and friend of Dr. I. S. Ravdin who preceded him as Chairman of Surgery at Penn and whom he credited for helping launch his career. When Dr. Ravdin had appendicitis, he selected Dr. Rhoads, then a junior member of the faculty, to do the operation and thereafter referred patients to Dr. Rhoads as his personal choice for a surgeon. These referrals assisted Dr. Rhoads in building a large surgical practice that led to many personal contacts enabling him to be very effective on behalf of numerous voluntary agencies that he served, first in Philadelphia and later at the national level.
Dr. Rhoads was the son of a Quaker physician who practiced in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. His father was active in Quaker affairs and Dr. Rhoads attended Quaker schools including Haverford College before earning his MD at Johns Hopkins. He developed a life-long
interest in education and served for many years on the committees in charge of Germantown Friends School, and Westtown School and on the Boards of Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College. He served for nine years as Chairman of the Board of Managers at Haverford. In 1956 Dr. Rhoads was appointed as Provost of the University of Pennsylvania a position that he held for three years while continuing to practice surgery. He also served on the Philadelphia School Board under Mayor Tate. His work was recognized through the conferral of ten honorary degrees, several from the institutions he served as well as others including Yale, Duke, and Georgetown Universities.
Dr. Rhoads married Teresa Folin, the daughter of a well-known Harvard biochemist, in 1936, but was widowed in 1987. He is survived by their six children, Margaret Kendon, Jonathan Jr., George, Edward, Philip, and Charles, by 12 grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and by his second wife, Katharine Evans Goddard Rhoads.
Services will be held at Germantown Friends Meeting, 47 W. Coulter Street, Philadelphia PA 19144 on Saturday, January 12 at 2 p.m..