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Death of Dr. Jonathan Rhoads,
A Preeminent Penn Paragon

Dr. Jonathan E. Rhoads, professor of surgery, provost emeritus and an internationally known surgeon who pioneered the development of intravenous nutrition, died January 3 at HUP at the age of 94. Dr. Rhoads had been a patient in the hospital pavilion that bears his name. He was 94 and had worked at the hospital for almost 70 years having arrived at HUP for his internship in 1932. "In the time since then, he became one of Philadelphia's most distinguished citizens, renowned as a researcher, scholar, and leader in medicine, academe, and civic affairs," said Dean Arthur H. Rubenstein. He become chairman of the Department of Surgery from 1959 to 1972. He remained active on the faculty of the School of Medicine up to his final hospitalization for gastric cancer.

"Jonathan Evans Rhoads, M.D., was one of Philadelphia's most distinguished citizens, renowned as a researcher, scholar, and medical leader. Over the years, he served the University of Pennsylvania both as provost and as chairman of the Department of Surgery. He was respected and beloved by his students, colleagues and patients and will be sorely missed by all of us at Penn," said President Judith Rodin.

Dr. Rhoads was one of the most prominent surgeons of his generation. He edited a leading text book 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," recalled his son, George. 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. Larry Kaiser, the current Chairman of Surgery, described Dr. Rhoads as "a true icon of American surgery."

Dr. Rhoads was the son of a Quaker physician who practiced in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Dr. Rhoads attended Quaker schools including Haverford College before earning his M.D. 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, 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.

Dr. Rhoads was the recipient of the medallion of the Surgeon General of the U.S., the American Medical Association's Sheen Award for Scientific Accomplishment, the Prix de la Societe Internationale de Chirurgie, the National Cancer Institute Medal, and the American Cancer Society National Award. He received the 34th annual Cosmos Club Award for "outstanding national leadership in surgical medicine."

At a surprise 71st birthday celebration, his colleagues honored him through an endowed professorship in his name in surgical sciences.

"Dr. Rhoads was a paragon who strove to embody our three-part mission of excellence in education, research, and patient care. Despite his vast erudition and his achievements as a researcher and surgeon, Dr. Rhoads was very accessible, and in his later years he could often be seen at campus events or navigating with his walker along the corridors of HUP," said Dean Rubenstein.

Dr. Rhoads married Teresa Folin in 1936, but was widowed in 1987. He is survived by his wife, Katharine Evans Goddard Rhoads; his six children from his first marriage, Margaret Kendon, Jonathan Jr., George, Edward, Philip, and Charles; 12 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at Germantown Friends Meeting, 47 W. Coulter Street, Philadelphia, on Saturday, January 12, at 2 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to any of the following:

The Jonathan E. Rhoads Endowment for Friends Children in Friends Schools
1515 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102

The Department of Surgery at HUP
3400 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

The American Philosophical Society
104 S. 5th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3387

The Department of Surgery plans a celebration of the life of Dr. Rhoads and will provide details when plans are complete.

Dr. Rhoads at the entrance of the $69 million pavilion named for him in 1994.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 17, January 8, 2002


January 8, 2002
Volume 48 Number 17

Dr. Jonathan E. Rhoads, provost emeritus and pioneering professor of surgery, leaves a legacy after a life-long career at Penn. Services will be held on January 12.
Dr. Alvin Rubinstein, professor of political science, died December 18 after teaching here for 44 years.
President Judith Rodin welcomes back the Penn community and encourages participation in the MLK celebrations and community service projects.
Penn and other organizations founded by Benjamin Franklin participate in the fourth annual celebration of his life on January 17.
Dr. Susan Fuhrman will be recommended to the Trustees for reappointment as dean of the Graduate School of Education.
Out with FinMIS and in with BEN Financials as Penn rings in the new year as a successful upgrade to a new, web-based purchasing environment is complete.
Procards no longer permitted for purchases from suppliers who are in the new Penn Marketplace; BEN Buys is the new system for placing orders.
Postdoctoral Stipend levels for FY03 are no longer based on NIH guidelines.
The Sexual Harassment Policy is published OF RECORD to familiarize the University community with the resources available for resolving complaints.
Blood Drives this month target faculty, staff and students.
Doctoral students and postdoc fellows interested in pursuing the academic job market are invited to the sixth annual series beginning January 18.
Corrections to the Faculty/Staff Directory are due January 23 so they can be included in the upcoming addendum.
The Penn's Way campaign announces the winners of the week four and week five raffles. Week six winners and the grand prize winner will be in next week.