History

Our training program dates to the origins of pediatric surgery in North America. Dr. William E. Ladd was appointed Surgeon in Chief at the Children’s Hospital in Boston in 1927 and went on to establish our training program.  During the 1930s and 1940s Dr. Ladd trained the leaders of the next generation of pediatric surgeons until his retirement in 1945. He favored trainees who were partially or fully trained general surgeons before coming to his service. A genealogy of pediatric surgeons was compiled in 1997 which showed a direct line of descent from Ladd to 75% of all accredited pediatric surgeons and 73% of pediatric surgery residency directors. As a pioneer in pediatric surgery he made seminal contributions to a wide variety of ailments including malrotation with midgut volvulus, intussusception, pyloric stenosis, biliary atresia, Wilms tumor, exstrophy of the bladder and cleft lip/palate. He is widely credited with being the father of pediatric surgery in North America, a distinction granted for more than his numerous surgical accomplishments. His lasting legacy is his dedication to surgical education.

One of his best known pupils was Dr. Robert E. Gross. As the chief surgical resident at Children’s Hospital in August of 1938, he became the first surgeon to successfully ligate a patent ductus arteriosus. He went on to develop treatments for coarctation of the aorta, vascular rings and tracheomalacia. Together with Dr. Ladd he wrote the premier textbook for our specialty.

After an illustrious career he was succeeded by giants in our field including M. Judah Folkman, W. Hardy Hendren, Moritz Ziegler and Robert Shamberger. Each successive chief is widely known for their accomplishments as well as the legacy of their trainees.