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John Staige Davis

John Staige Davis


Davis, a pioneer in the field of plastic surgery and longtime surgeon at Johns Hopkins, was born in Norfolk, Virginia. He attended Yale University in the Sheffield Scientific School, receiving his undergraduate degree in 1895, and his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1899. From 1899 to 1900, Davis served as resident house officer at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, then served a three-year residency at Union Protestant Infirmary, which later became Union Memorial Hospital.

Until World War I, he was in private practice and had affiliations with The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Union Protestant Infirmary, Woman’s Medical College, and the Robert Garrett Children’s Hospital. When he became more specialized in the field of plastic surgery, he was appointed assistant visiting surgeon in plastic surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, along with becoming an associate professor of surgery in charge of plastic surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Davis served as a captain in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army during World War I, where he made important contributions to the emerging field of plastic surgery. He wrote the first textbook on the subject, Plastic Surgery: Its Principles and Practice, which was first published in 1917. After the war, Davis returned to Baltimore, and in 1928, was appointed visiting surgeon in plastic surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. During this time he also served on the executive committee of visiting staff at Union Memorial Hospital.

When the U.S. entered World War II, Davis was appointed by the Surgeon General of the U.S. Army as a member of a committee to organize plastic surgery units for the Army Medical Corps. He also helped at Walter Reed General Hospital, along with other army hospitals in the area.

From 1941 until early 1946, Davis held the title Surgeon in Charge at Johns Hopkins. He also was appointed surgeon of the outpatient department. Davis is widely considered the first surgeon to devote his career to the study and advancement of plastic surgery.

Throughout his lifetime, Davis belonged to many organizations, including the American Medical Association; the American Surgical Association, serving as its vice president in 1937; the Southern Surgical Association, serving as its president in 1940; the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a founding member who served as chairman until shortly before his death; the Military Order of the World War; the Sons of the American Revolution; the Maryland Club; and the Yale Club of New York.

On March 10, 1971, the John Staige Davis Society of the Plastic Surgeons of Maryland was founded in his honor, with one of Davis’ sons as a founding member.

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