Monday, July 13, 2009

Dr. Benson Wilcox: Surgeon, Scholar, and Benefactor

Dr. Benson Wilcox, a long-time friend and supporter of the UNC Health Sciences Library, and in particular, its Special Collections, is now featured in a donor profile on the library's web site. A North Carolina native and UNC alumnus, Dr. Wilcox is an avid bibliophile who over the years has donated over 1,400 volumes to the library as well as established an endowment fund for the acquisition of additional works for the collections. He is also Professor of Surgery and Emeritus Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery in the UNC School of Medicine and the author and editor of several books himself, including the Surgical Anatomy of the Heart, which has been translated into Japanese and Chinese.

The oldest book that Dr. Wilcox has donated to the library's collections is a 1526 edition of the Works of Hippocrates, and one of the most recent titles acquired through his endowment fund is Thomas Percival's seminal work, Medical Ethics; or, A Code of Institutes and Precepts, Adapted to the Professional Conduct of Physicians and Surgeons, published in 1803. Another endowment purchase, a papier-mâché heart designed by Dr. Louis Thomas Jérôme Auzoux (1797-1880) and fabricated circa 1870, was described in this blog's Valentine's greetings earlier this year.

Dr. Wilcox has also been honored by fellow UNC alumnus R.B. Fitch, who has created a trust that will ultimately endow the Benson R. Wilcox Distinguished Professorship in Cardiothoracic Surgery. Details of the gift are available on the Department of Surgery's web site and in the UNC Medical Bulletin (inside front cover, Spring 2009). This issue of the Bulletin, on pages 2-7, also contains an article entitled, "An Affair of the Heart . . . and Lungs: Twenty Years of Heart and Lung Transplant at UNC Hospitals," which recounts the remarkable and rapid growth of UNC's heart-lung transplant program. In 1988, Dr. Wilcox recruited Dr. Michael Mill, the present Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, to help establish the program.

Depicted below are the title pages from the Works of Hippocrates (1526) and Percival's Medical Ethics (1803), which are housed in HSL Special Collections as part of the Wilcox Collection.

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