Letter from the Chair

Gilbert R. Upchurch Jr., MD, Edward M. Copeland III and Ann & Ira Horowitz Department Chair of the University of Florida Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Department of Surgery

With a new year underway and our team continuing to grow and excel, I find myself reflecting on the ways in which the department accomplished exceptional feats amid the backdrop of the continued pandemic. 

Each of these incredible achievements — from patient experiences that push the boundaries of what is possible with medical care to research that paves the way for clinical miracles — was performed despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic. Vaccination remains an important tool in our fight against COVID-19, and I encourage anyone who hasn’t received a COVID-19 vaccination to seek out upcoming vaccination opportunities. The data is overwhelming in support of the observation that if one actually gets COVID, the vaccine protects an individual from dying.   

As health care professionals during a historic pandemic, we have witnessed some of the most challenging—and rewarding—firsts in our careers.

I would like to emphasize how proud I am to be part of a team that has displayed resilience in the face of unprecedented duress time and time again. I have seen you all go above and beyond—not only as surgeons and researchers, but as colleagues and friends to one another.

Random acts of kindness have become the norm. I am reminded of a quote by Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz in the Pacific during World War II in which he stated that “uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

The work we do, whether it is caring for patients, training the next generation of talented surgeons, or performing research that moves the needle forward, is bigger than us and likely will transcend our lifetime. It is this mindset that has allowed us to lead, as evidenced by our rise to No. 1 Children’s Hospital in Florida, several specialties ranked highest in the state, and, most recently, being a department of surgery in a top five public university according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 Best Colleges Rankings.

To get a closer look at some of our most memorable moments in the department over the past few months, please enjoy this issue of The Stitch. 

As always, Go Gators!