History of Urology at UofL

Historical Images of UofL HospitalA History of Urology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine written in part by Elizabeth A. Amin, MD, Professor, Department of Radiology.

The Louisville Medical Institute, founded in 1837, was the forerunner to the University of Louisville School of Medicine.  2012 marked the 175th anniversary of the original institution.  Clearly the history of the University of Louisville Medical School predates by many decades the development of Urology as a surgical specialty.  Nevertheless, urologic procedures were being performed in the department of surgery and by illustrious faculty from the earliest days.

Dr. Samuel D. Gross

Samuel D. Gross MD, (July 8, 1806 - May 6, 1884) was Professor of Surgery at the Louisville Medical Institute from 1840-1856.bsp; Dr. Gross was a native of Easton, Pennsylvania and was one of the earliest graduates of the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, graduating in 1828 among a class of 27 students.  Dr. Gross’s earliest interest was in anatomy and in 1833 after a short stint in private practice in Easton PA Dr. Gross relocated to the Medical College of Ohio in Cincinnati as demonstrator in anatomy.  Shortly thereafter he was appointed Chief of Pathological Anatomy at that institution.  For the next several years his scholarly work added considerably to the body of scientific knowledge in the field.  His original observations culminated in the publication, in 1839, of his landmark treatise, Elements of Pathologic Anatomy.  Thus on arrival in Louisville Dr. Gross had already received recognition within the medical/scientific community.

Perhaps less well remembered is Dr. Gross’s Practical Treatise on the Diseases, Injuries, and Malformations of the Urinary Bladder, the Prostate Gland, and the Urethra.  This was initially published in 1851 with a second edition in 1855 while Dr. Gross was Professor of Surgery in Louisville.

Page 482 Volume II of The American Urological Association Centennial History 1902-2002 cites Dr. Gross’s Report on Kentucky Surgery to the State Association in 1853.  He enumerated almost 400 lithotomies performed by four Kentucky surgeons including himself.  The report detailed more bladder stone operations than had been reported in any other state at that time.  The History posits that the location of Kentucky and Tennessee within the limestone belt of the country had, perhaps, a strong influence on calculus production.

Dr. Gross left the University of Louisville in 1856, returning to his Alma Mater, Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.  At this time there was no recognized specialty in urologic surgery.  However, toward the end of the 19th century there was growing recognition within the medical community nationwide that the treatment of genito-urinary diseases could constitute a specialty in itself.  In 1902 the American Urologic Association was founded and, again in the Centennial History of that organization, it is noted that 69 physicians in the southern states claimed to specialize, not necessarily exclusively, in the surgical management of diseases of the genito-urinary tract.

Dr. W. Irvin Abell Sr.

One of the first members of the AUA was Dr. W. Irvin Abell Sr. of Louisville KY.  He became a member in 1906, Dr. Abell was a native of Kentucky having been born in Lebanon in 1876 and educated at St Augustine’s Catholic School in Lebanon.  He received a master of arts (sic) degree from St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s KY in 1894 and three years later was graduated from the (then) Louisville Medical College with his MD degree.  In 1908 he became professor of surgery at the University of Louisville, a position he maintained until his retirement in June 1947.  Dr. Abell became a trustee of the university of Louisville and was an ardent advocate for medical students.  During his illustrious career he was awarded several honorary degrees and in 1947 he became an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in London.  He was a member of multiple professional societies and from 1938-39 was President of the American Medical Association

Dr. Abell practiced general surgery however he had a significant interest in diseases of the genito-urinary system and this latter constituted a significant portion of his clinical practice as well as his teaching obligation.  He authored a number of papers on the topic.

Throughout his tenure at the University of Louisville Dr. Abell was a visiting surgeon at St Joseph’s infirmary and SS Mary & Elizabeth Hospital.  He had offices in the Brown Building where, later in life, he was joined by his two sons, Dr. Irvin Abell Jr. and Dr. Spalding Abell.

Dr. Abell Sr. passed away in August 1949 while fishing at Camp Kaintuck on the Pickerel River in Ontario, Canada.

Dr. E. Owsley Grant

The first person appointed to the University of Louisville Faculty as a full-time urologic surgeon was Dr. E. Owsley Grant.  Dr. Grant was born in Louisville December 9, 1887. His father was a general surgeon in private practice.  Dr. Grant obtained his AB degree from Centre College, Danville KY in 1907 and his MD degree from Johns-Hopkins University in 1911.  He studied at the Allgemeine Krankenhaus in Munich for one year and then completed an internship at Lakeside hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1914 Dr. Grant returned to Louisville and was appointed to the U of L faculty as assistant in surgery.  His subsequent faculty appointments are listed as:  Assistant in Urology 1917, Adjunct in Urology 1921, Assistant Clinical Professor 1923, and Clinical Professor and Head of Urology 1929.

In conjunction with his academic appointment Dr. Grant was on the medical staff of Louisville General Hospital (now University of Louisville Hospital) and Norton Memorial Infirmary (now part of Norton Healthcare).  There was no residency program in Urology during Dr. Grant’s tenure at U of L but preceptorships were offered and many of the community surgeons took advantage of these positions, working with Dr. Grant in his clinical practice and co-authoring a number of peer-reviewed articles with him.

Dr. Grant himself authored more than 65 articles between 1921 and 1947 - the year of his untimely death.  In January 1947 Dr. Grant achieved national acclaim for his performance of the first retro-pubic prostatectomy performed in the United States.  Unfortunately for his family, colleagues and the University of Louisville Dr. Grant died a few months later, at the age of 60, from the complications of an elective surgical procedure.

Dr. Grant was a member of the American Medical Association, the American Urological Association: the Southern Medical Association, the Southern Surgical Association.  He was a founder member of the American Board of Urology (incorporated in 1935) and a lifetime member of the Johns Hopkins Alumnae Medical Society.  He held the rank of Lt. Col. Army Medical Corp for his service in WWI

Dr. Robert Lich Jr.

At the time of Dr. Grant’s death Dr. Robert Lich Jr. was Associate Professor of Surgery, Division of Urology at the University of Louisville.  Following Dr. Grant’s death Dr. Lich became the Chief of Urology and in 1948 achieved the rank of Professor of Surgery (Urology).

Dr. Lich was a native of Nebraska, born in Sutton on February 8 1909.  He received his BS degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1931 subsequently completing a one year fellowship in Bacteriology at that same institution.

In 1936 Dr. Lich received his MD degree from long Island College of Medicine, Brooklyn NY.  He interned in general surgery at the Norton Memorial Hospital in Louisville KY from 1936-37 and then commenced his Urology training under Dr. Grant at the University of Louisville.  Concurrent with his urology training Dr. Lich pursued his MS degree, achieved in 1942.  His master’s thesis was on the topic of renal dysfunction in prostatism.  Following his service as Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy from 1942-1946, Dr. Lich returned to the University of Louisville as Associate Professor of Surgery (Urology) continuing his association - albeit for a very brief period of time - with his mentor, Dr. Grant.

Dr. Lich subsequently directed the Urology service and the Urology training program at the University of Louisville until his retirement in 1973.  He authored 145 peer - reviewed articles, many of them innovative in their approach to pediatric and adult urologic problems.  His own scientific approach to clinical practice strongly influenced many of the early residents in the Urology training program.  Dr. Lonnie Howerton was one such resident who, following completion of his training in Urology went on to specialize in Pediatric Urology at the then Children’s Hospital (now Kosair Children’s Hospital.)  Drs. Lich and Howerton co-authored articles on the management of congenital urologic problems including a new method of distal ureteral re-implantation for uretero-vesical reflux.  Their 1961 publication of this new technique was widely hailed amongst their peers and carries the name of the Lich re-implantation technique.

Dr. Lich served twice as President of the American Board of Urology (1967 & 1975) and was one of the longest serving Board members (1958-1976).  In 1951 he had been elected to membership in the American Association of Genito-Urinary Surgeons in recognition of his prolific, scholarly publications.  He was also a member of many other professional societies most notably the American Medical Association, American Urological Association, American College of Surgeons, Kentucky Medical, Association, Kentucky Surgical Society, Cincinnati Urological Society and Société Internationale d’Urologie.

Dr. Lich’s influence upon and respect for his own trainees led to a very close involvement of the private practice urologists in the training of subsequent generations of incoming residents.  That relationship flourished to the benefit of all.

Dr. Lich retired from the University of Louisville in 1973.  He enjoyed a healthful and productive retirement until his death on December 22 1987 as a result of pneumonia following colon resection for colon cancer.

Dr. Mohammad Amin

In 1966 Dr. Mohammad Amin started his residency in Urology at the University of Louisville.  Dr. Amin graduated from King Edward Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan in 1963.  He completed the required year of internship at the Mayo Hospital, Lahore followed by a year of internship at Plainview Hospital in New Jersey and 1 year as a general surgery resident at U of L (Norton Memorial Infirmary) prior to joining the Urology program.  On completion of his training he joined the Faculty as Assistant Professor of Surgery (Urology).  He became residency program director and Chief, Section of Urology in 1974.  Dr. Amin achieved the rank of Professor of Surgery (Urology) in 1980 and remained Chief, Section of Urology until 1995.

As with all his predecessors Dr. Amin maintained a close relationship with clinical colleagues and former residents who in turn contributed to the training of incoming residents.  The training program thus expanded into the Jewish and Norton Hospitals.

Dr. Amin published numerous peer reviewed articles, book chapters, editorials and special articles.  He was the recipient of many research grants. In 1977 Dr. Amin and Dr. Howerton published an article in the Journal of Urology titled: Terminal Loop Cutaneous Ureterostomy: An Experimental Study and its Clinical Application.  A subsequent report in the Transactions of the American Association of Genito-Urinary Surgeons identified the use of this procedure as a method of urinary drainage in renal transplantation. They were the first to use this procedure successfully in a pediatric transplant recipient.

In the 1970s Dr. Amin and his residents were a core component of the renal transplant team at the University of Louisville.  They worked in conjunction with vascular surgeons, notably Dr. Alan Lansing and this team approach continued until the arrival in the Department of Surgery of the first specialty rained transplant surgeon.

Dr. Amin was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of numerous other professional societies including, the American Urologic Association, the Kentucky Urological Association, the American Medical Association, and the Société Internationale d’Urologie.

Following Dr. Amin’s retirement from his position as Chief of Urology in 1995 Dr. James I Harty was appointed acting chief.  Dr. Amin remained on staff at University Hospital until 2001 and at the VA Medical Center until his retirement in December 2013.

Dr. James I. Harty

Dr. Harty was a longtime associate of Dr. Amin having joined the division of Urology in 1977.  Dr. Harty graduated (medical school) from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Dublin) in 1969.  He completed a general internship at St. Laurence’s Hospital in Dublin and subsequently a general surgery residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.  In 1973 Dr. Harty became a resident in Urology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.  He spent one year as a research fellow in Urology at the Brady Institute and completed the (residency) program in 1977.  That year he joined the faculty at the University of Louisville School of Medicine as Assistant Professor of Surgery (Urology.)  In 1978 Dr. Harty was appointed Associate in Oncology at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.  He became Professor of Surgery (Urology) in 1989.

Dr. Harty published numerous articles, and book chapters and was the recipient of several grants from the National Cancer Institute, the Price Research Center and the University of Louisville.  He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.  In addition, he held membership in several professional societies including: South Eastern Cancer Research Association, Society of University Urologists, Kentucky Urological Society, and Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Society.

Dr. Harty held the position of acting chief, Division of Urology, from 1995 - 2001.  During that time there was a move to make Urology a Department within the Medical School.  This endeavor was fraught with difficulty and ultimately Drs. Harty, Amin and other faculty resigned their positions.  The residents were successfully relocated to other programs and coverage of the clinical urologic services at the University were undertaken by the private practice Urology groups.

Sources: Samuel D Gross MD: 1) WIKIPEDIA, 2) Archives of the Thomas Jefferson School of Medicine which houses a complete listing of Dr. Gross’s publications. Irvin Abell Sr. MD: 1) University of Louisville Historical Archive which includes a complete listing of Dr. Abell’s publications, 2) Obituary. E. Owsley Grant MD: 1) University of Louisville Historical Archive which includes a complete listing of Dr. Grant’s Publications, 2) Obituary.  Robert Lich MD: 1) List of Publications, 2) Curriculum Vitae, 3) Robert Lich, Jr., MD "Innovator in Pediatric and Adult Urology" by Brian Benway and Bruce Slaughenhoupt, Journal of Urology, Vol 177, 845-848, March 2007 Mohammad Amin MD: 1) Personal communication, 2) Curriculum Vitae, 3) List of Publications. James I. Harty MD: 1) Personal communication, 2) Curriculum Vitae, 3) List of Publications.