For immediate release: May 15, 2007
GALVESTON, Texas - Pediatric radiology wouldn't be the same if Dr. Leonard E. Swischuk had chosen a different field. Chairman of the Department of Radiology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Swischuk is the recipient of four gold medals in the past 12 months honoring his contributions to pediatric radiology, including the Gold Medal for Distinguished Service from the American Roentgen Ray Society, which he'll receive this month.
Over a career spanning 40 years, Swischuk has written six books, including two textbooks used throughout the world, contributed chapters to 18 books, published 239 peer-reviewed articles and, since 1986, has written a quarterly column on radiology for Pediatric Emergency Care.
In addition to the medal from the ARRS, Swischuk received gold medals from the Texas Radiological Society (April, 2006), the Brazilian College of Radiology at the Latin American Society of Pediatric Radiology (October) and the Society of Pediatric Radiology (April).
A fixture at UTMB since 1970, some of Swischuk's contributions to radiology flew in the face of conventional wisdom, particularly his textbook Radiology of the Newborn and Young Infant. Published in 1973, the book met with resistance because it challenged the orthodoxies of John Caffey, a pioneering radiologist who died in 1978.
"I moved beyond them," he says. One of his innovations came when he found that X-rays can show "the difference between viral and bacterial lung infections in children." This breakthrough allowed pediatricians to cut back on the overuse of antibiotics.
In a letter from the Society for Pediatric Radiology announcing the gold medal he received from them, the organization praised his "textbooks ... teaching, and [his] ability to challenge the status quo to advance scientific knowledge in our field." The letter concludes by saying "You have been an inspiration and role model for so many of us."
Swischuk was attracted to pediatric radiology during his residency in Oklahoma, which began in 1963. But that's not because the field was a hotbed of forward thinking. "Pediatric radiology was a dull specialty," he says. "But I quickly realized there was room for new thinking."
Swischuk found kindred spirits when he moved to UTMB in 1970. "There was room and support to fly free," he said.
Though he will soon step down as departmental chair, Swischuk vows, "I'll never retire. I'll always keep looking after kids and creating new knowledge."
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
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