Cracchiolo Family Professorship in Surgery built upon the skills and compassion of a surgical team

cracchiolo family
Jim and Tina Cracchiolo (center) welcome the current appointee of the Cracchiolo Family Professorship in Surgery at UF; Tom Read, MD, (far left alongside his predecessor, Steven J. Hughes, MD (far right). Read’s clinical interests include colon cancer, diverticulitis, IBS and ulcerative colitis.

The Cracchiolo Family Professorship in Surgery at the University of Florida was created to recognize the outstanding care provided to Lena Testa, a sister of Sam Cracchiolo Sr., by Edward M. Copeland III, MD; Stephen B. Vogel, MD; and their surgical team.

The professorship is an offshoot of the larger foundation, which was originally founded by Annita and Sam Cracchiolo Sr. It has devoted itself to a variety of causes, including science, charity, literacy and other educational endeavors, said Jim Cracchiolo, son of the founders and a director of the foundation.

 “Dr. Vogel and Dr. Copeland had a tremendous focus on providing great patient care, and they were equally dedicated to building relationships with their patients,” Cracchiolo said. “It was this commitment to their patients that led my father to endow the professorship. Since its inception, our relationship with the UF Department of Surgery has been a continued source of fulfillment for us.”

Because the professorship focuses on supporting knowledge and innovation, visiting lecturers such as David R. Flum, MPH, MD, a board-certified general surgeon and the associate chair of the University of Washington’s Department of Surgery, routinely make an appearance to share their own work.

“When we train folks to be doctors, much of what we train them to do is not really based on evidence as much as it is on evidence and shared experiences,” Flum said. “Half of what you’re learning today will be wrong in five years. The only problem is you don’t know which half.”

Flum’s lecture centered on recognizing the inevitable change of the field – and the importance of incorporating strategies like trial randomization into research as a means of staying up to speed. Surgeons use evidence to inform practice and generate trials, Flum said. The “magic” of randomization is the key to surgeons understanding what is really true and build a common truth.

 “One of the reasons I value speaking to residents and faculty members comes from my own priority around the culture we’re building for young doctors,” Flum said. “You want a culture that gets these young doctors really excited about owning questions like, ‘Why are we doing this? How can we be better?’ and help them identify the tools to help them find the answers.”

For Jim and Tina Cracchiolo, the mentorship and educational aspect of the professorship one of the most important parts.

“In a way, we get to be a part of research and training in medicine,” Jim Cracchiolo said. “Seeing our contributions echoed in the work of future surgeons who go on to do great things is one of the most rewarding parts of our work with the department.”

After all, the current doctors set the groundwork for future students to follow.

“As surgeons, we are getting better all the time and committed to the process,” Flum said. “It’s important to stop and ask ourselves how we’re going to inspire the next generation to be unrelenting in their pursuit of the truth.”