A family legacy

Francis Moore Jr

Moore hopes to inspire others to follow him into careers in endocrine surgery

Francis “Chip” D. Moore, Jr., M.D., was almost an architect, or, more likely, a city planner.

But during the administration of President Richard M. Nixon in the 1970s, the “Great Society” funding for city planning programs dried up. Moore was working toward in his undergraduate degree, and he needed to find something else to do.

“I’d done quite a bit of science, and was essentially pre-med,” said Moore, a professor in the UF College of Medicine and a renowned endocrine surgeon in UF Health’s department of surgery. “And as far as surgery went, I had some legacy in that.”

Moore’s father, Francis Moore, M.D., was a surgical giant, who had appeared on the cover of Time magazine as a pioneer in numerous surgical procedures. When the younger Moore entered medical school and started taking care of patients, he found he liked the episodic aspect of patient care that characterizes surgery.

“It’s rarely lengthy longitudinal care,” Moore said. “I’m able to be a part of many different people’s journeys to a better quality of life.”

Although Moore has become an expert in endocrine surgery over the years, he spent his first five years of practice purely as a general abdominal surgeon. He started to blend in endocrine surgery after that, and the rest is history.

Among his many memorable cases—some celebrities, some extremely complex—a few stand out, he said.

One of them, a 30-year-old naval officer with advanced thyroid cancer, was given four months to live. With the help of Moore’s expertise, he lived for another three years.

“The Navy didn’t even pause his service,” Moore said.

Thyroid surgery was for decades one of the most common surgeries, before iodine began being added to table salt nationwide in 1924. The thyroid gland uses iodine to produce thyroid hormones, which aid in tissue repair, regulate metabolism and promote growth and development.

The problem was the worst in the Midwest, where some of the great clinics of the country were founded, Moore said.

Brothers William and Charles Mayo who, along with their physician father William, founded the Mayo clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, were famed as thyroid surgeons. So, too, was George W. Crile, the founder of the Cleveland Clinic. Frank Lahey of the Lahey Clinic in Boston performed over 20,000 thyroid surgeries himself.

Although endocrine surgery fellowships have existed only for the past decade, Moore is confident in the specialty’s growing attraction to surgical trainees. Ideally, he’d like to get a point where trainees seek to make this niche a career.

“I really look forward to building a program of complex endocrine surgery at UF Health,” Moore said. “It’s something I’d like to train the residents on, and an area that tends to have very detailed and exacting surgeries.”

Before he came to UF Health in February, Moore also directed a research program in Boston devoted to the basic science of injury.

One of his lab’s most surprising discoveries was the role of an individual’s inflammatory response to injury, like a second-degree burn.

“For these injuries, the wounds are exacerbated severely by your body’s own inflammatory response,” Moore said. “If you can block that [response], which we did with scalds on human skin in murine models, you don’t get a typical burn wound. In fact, there may not even be any redness.”

Moore’s impressions of UF Health thus far acknowledge its emphasis on multidisciplinary care.

“My colleagues and other faculty I’ve worked with are very collaborative,” Moore said. “This is a state that’s generally friendly, but this is health system is something outstanding.”

“Generally friendly” is right. In Boston, Moore said, he and his wife would take daily strolls with their collie around the city. Most passersby tended to avert their eyes and keep walking, avoiding small talk and unnecessary interactions.

But in Gainesville? Everyone stops and says hi—to Moore, his wife, and the collie.