Progress Medal 2000 is awarded to
Robert D. Jeffs
On July 1, 1975 Robert Douglas Jeffs became the first Professor of Pediatric Urology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. In many senses, pediatric urology had its infancy at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In many senses, pediatric urology had its infancy at Johns Hopkins with Hugh Hampton Young's descriptions of posterior urethral valves and the disorders of hermaphroditism. However, at Hopkins the field lay fallow for many years until Bob Jeffs arrived. Let me share an anecdote about his appointment. In 1974 I arrived at Hopkins to be the third Director of the Brady urological Institute, succeeding William Wallace Scott. Having spent a year of residency in pediatric surgery at Boston Children's' Hospital, I was convinced that Hopkins needed a first-rate world -class pediatric urologist to develop a program. This was my first endeavor as chairman.
Bob Jeffs was D. Innes Williams' first North American fellow at the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Following completion of that training he returned to Toronto and over the next two decades Bob developed the largest pediatric urological service in North America. In this setting he pioneered functional staged reconstruction of bladder Exstrophy. The large clinical load and Bob's dedication to patient care prevented him from publishing as broadly as he might have. When I wrote to Bob I learned that he was looking for greener pastures where he might have more opportunity to publish his wealth of clinical experience. Clearly he was the man for the job.
The task that remained for me was somewhat daunting. I had to convince the Advisory Board of the School of Medicine of Johns Hopkins that Hopkins needed to create a new field of pediatric urology and that Bob Jeffs was the right man. There I was, at age 36, trying to convince the assembled group of medical school department chairman that they should approve this appointment. In typical fashion, one of the department chairman (an expert in renal pathology and an Englishman as well) wondered why we had not considered D. Innes Williams for this position. When I told him that I had written to Mr. Williams he immediately want to know the contents of that letter the letter went like this "My Dear Patrick: I am so pleased that Hopkins at last has realized the need to develop an outstanding program in pediatric urology. The finest candidate for the position would be Robert Jeffs. However, Patrick, I sincerely doubt that he would ever consider coming to Baltimore". After the laughter subsided, Bob Jeffs was unanimously appointed the first Professor of Pediatric urology at Johns Hopkins and over the next 20 years lived up to our wildest expectations.
Bob developed a strong clinical service and established Johns Hopkins as a center for reconstructive pediatric urology. Patients came from all over the world for reconstruction of bladder Exstrophy and from the surrounding neighborhoods for advice on enuresis. Bob believed that the pediatric service should cover all areas in great depth. The appointment at Hopkins gave him more time to publish his lifetime experience and over the next 20 years he contributed 150 exciting clinical publications to the literature. He also developed an outstanding pediatric fellowship training 11 pediatric urologists, 6 off whom are chiefs of pediatric urology, including his own successor, John Gearhart, and John Docket's successor, Douglas Canning. At Hopkins we look on Bob Jeffs as the Hugh Young of pediatric urology. His expertise and impact were similar and we are grateful for all that he did for the field on our behalf.
A tribute by Patrick C. Walsh, MD