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George Melville Williams

George Melville Williams

1930 - 2020

Williams, a chief of transplantation and vascular surgery at Johns Hopkins, was born in Soochow, China, and lived on the campus of Soochow University, where his father was a professor of sociology and religion. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College in 1953 and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1957. After completing a surgical internship and two years of a surgical residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, Williams served as a surgeon in the U.S. Army, stationed in Tehran, Iran, from 1960 to 1962. He then returned to Massachusetts General to complete his residency.

To prepare for a career in transplantation, Williams spent a year at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He then joined the pioneering transplant team at the Medical College of Virginia (now Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center) as an instructor in surgery. He rose through the academic ranks to professor and director of surgical research.

In 1969, George Zuidema recruited Williams to the Department of Surgery at Johns Hopkins to develop a transplantation program. When the chief of vascular surgery left, Zuidema asked if Williams would also assume leadership of that division. Williams served as director of the transplant-vascular division at Johns Hopkins from 1972 to 1995, when he retired from transplantation to lead vascular surgery until 2000. He retired from active surgery in 2010 after thirty-seven years. His research interests included endothelial biology in transplanted organs and aortas; reperfusion injury, antibodies and rejection; and stem cells and liver regeneration.

Williams is a past president of the Halsted Society, the United Network of Organ Sharing, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, and The Living Legacy, a Baltimore organ recovery program. He was also president and one of the founding members of The Southern Association of Vascular Surgery.

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