CSAT History and Development

Dr. John Skandalakis

Dr. John Skandalakis, 1920-2009

John Skandalakis, MD, PhD, founded the Thalia and Michael Carlos Center for Surgical Anatomy and Technique at Emory University in 1984 and the Alfred A. Davis Research Center for Surgical Anatomy and Technique in 1990. A former Greek resistance fighter during WW II and veteran of the 1946-1949 Greek Civil War, Dr. Skandalakis immigrated to the U.S. in 1951 after receiving his MD and doctorate in surgery at the University of Athens. He completed his fellowship and residency at Grady Memorial Hospital, St. Joseph's Infirmary, and Piedmont Hospital, and began teaching anatomy at Emory while serving as the director of surgical education at Piedmont. He was named the Chris Carlos Distinguished Professor of Surgical Anatomy and Technique in 1977.

Dr. Skandalakis was a passionate advocate of medical and surgical trainees and practicing surgeons understanding the critical role surgical anatomy played in the operating room, a belief he encapsulated by stressing "know anatomy, no complications" in "Reflections on Dissection: Leave No Student Behind," published in the January 2008 edition of The American Surgeon. To fulfill this imperative, the centers sponsored two elective courses, "Topics in Clinical Anatomy" and "Surgical Anatomy, Embryology, & Operative Techniques"; conducted and published detailed research; and amassed a vast bibliography of influential publications, many of which were first-time commentaries of particular anatomic topics. Three of Dr. Skandalakis' most notable books were Embryology for Surgeons, Anatomical Complications in General Surgery, and Surgical Anatomy and Technique: A Pocket Manual, all of which were translated into numerous languages and are still referenced.

The highly refined and studiously accurate style of the medical illustrations that often accompanied CSAT's texts from the 1980s through the early 2000s

The highly refined and studiously accurate style of the medical illustrations that often accompanied CSAT's texts from the 1980s through the early 2000s

In August 2009, Dr. Skandalakis died of leukemia, ending an illustrious career that inculcated a thorough knowledge of surgical anatomy in thousands of Emory-based medical students and residents and physicians around the globe. A period of transition followed, during which Barbara Pettitt, MD, helmed the "Surgical Anatomy, Embryology, & Operative Techniques" course, centers-associated publications continued appearing in the surgical literature, and the search for a new director began. In 2012, Keith Delman, MD, was appointed to the directorship as well as the Carlos Professor of Surgical Anatomy and Technique. Additionally, the separate clinical and research centers were unified under the umbrella of the Thalia and Michael Carlos and Alfred A. Davis Center for Surgical Anatomy and Technique (CSAT).

Dr. Delman possessed the requisite passion for education and recognition of the importance of anatomy that were required to assume and renew the enterprise Dr. Skandalakis cultivated from the Carlos and Davis families' generous donations. His national commitment to surgical education for postgrads, medical students, and CME trainees has been exercised by his memberships on the executive council of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery and the editorial board of the Surgical Council on Resident Education (SCORE) Portal; his position as course director for the annual melanoma conferences of the Winship Cancer Institute; and his co-chairing of an ACS/APDS/ASE sub-committee concerned with establishing a 4th year med student modular curriculum for students entering a surgical specialty. Using the experience he's gained in these endeavors, Dr. Delman plans on adapting CSAT's original purpose to contemporary communication advancements.

Dr. Keith Delman

Dr. Keith Delman

One of Dr. Delman's first initiatives was to relocate CSAT's offices at 1462 Clifton Road, NE, to the academic clinical corridor clustered around The Emory Clinic. With the blessing of then-Department of Surgery chair Dr. Christian Larsen, now dean of the Emory University School of Medicine, CSAT made a June 2013 move into the renovated H-Wing of Emory University Hospital, which had been transformed into the Office of Surgical Education, a centralized and high-tech space dedicated to serving surgical residents and medical students. In the refurbished space, CSAT is now part of an educational nerve center that includes a simulation lab with 24-hour access, an OR table, video-recording capabilities, various work stations, chief resident offices, two touch-screen monitors for directed education, a classroom with a large, interactive digital projection screen, a common area and kitchen, and two resident call-rooms equipped with showers.

CSAT medical illustrator Andy Matlock working on 3D animations for a future app

CSAT medical illustrator Andy Matlock working on 3D animations for a future app

CSAT is now embarked on various projects that are leveraging the technology of the 21st century to maintain Dr. Skandalakis' legacy, which is exemplified in the photo to the right of CSAT medical illustrator Andy Matlock working on 3D animations for a future app. "While Dr. Skandalakis' media emphasis was on disseminating knowledge through print and books, we are focusing on internet-based media and handheld devices for doing the same," says Dr. Delman. "It is my hope to capitalize on the exceptional teaching that occurs at Emory and distribute to a larger, global audience."

In 2014, CSAT was awarded accreditation as a Comprehensive Education Institute (CEI) of the American College of Surgeons Accredited Education Institutes (ACS-AEI) program. ACS-AEI promotes patient safety by advocating simulation training to cultivate skills in academic surgical programs, supporting the development of new education methods and emerging technologies, identifying best practices, and facilitating research and collaboration among its member centers.

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