Dr. Wulkan Appointed New Chief of Pediatric Surgery, Dr. Ricketts Remains on Faculty

July 2010

Completing 30 years as the founding chief of the division of pediatric surgery, Dr. Richard Ricketts has decided to leave the position, though he will remain on the Emory Surgery faculty and continue his clinical and academic activities as well as such research endeavors as being Emory's surgical co-principal investigator of the Pediatric Oncology Group. Dr. Mark Wulkan will be the new chief.

Among Dr. Ricketts' various achievements during his tenure was direction of the effort to establish an accredited pediatric surgery fellowship at Emory. Working primarily with Dr. Kurt Heiss and Dr. Paul Parker, Dr. Ricketts managed several years of preparation for the ACGME and RRC's intensive review process. Approval was received from the agencies in 1996.

Dr. Ricketts was also an advocate of pediatric minimally invasive surgery early in its development. Even though pediatric minimally invasive procedures had been proven to be as safe and efficacious as open methods by the late nineties, they were still not routinely available at all of the nation's children's hospitals in the early years of the present decade. To advance Emory's capabilities in this area, Dr. Ricketts recruited Dr. Wulkan in 1998 to both enhance the minimally invasive skills of the other surgeons in the division and to direct pediatric laparoscopy at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. Dr. Wulkan had gained extensive minimally invasive surgery experience during his general surgery residency at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and had trained with Dr. Keith Georgeson, one of the pioneers of pediatric minimally invasive surgery, during his pediatric surgery residency at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

In 2003 Dr. Wulkan initiated the Minimally Invasive Surgical Center at Egleston. Since then the service has grown into one of the most high-volume pediatric minimally invasive programs in the country. In 2007 he performed the first Lap-Band procedure to be done at Egleston to treat adolescent obesity and in 2009 was one of the first surgeons in Georgia to perform single-site incision surgery on pediatric patients for such routine procedures as appendectomy, removal of the spleen, and stomach surgery.