publication date: Oct. 5, 2018

An Appreciation

Philip DiSaia, former head of Gynecologic Oncology Group, dies at 81

By Krishnansu Tewari

The grandson of Italian immigrants, Philip John DiSaia was born on Aug. 14, 1937 in Providence, Rhode Island. He earned his Bachelor’s in Science at Brown University and his MD at Tufts University.

Upon the advice of his mentor in medical school, DiSaia obtained two years of general surgery training, followed by residency in obstetrics & gynecology at Yale University where he met Edward Quilligan, creator of the fetal heart rate monitor.

During residency, DiSaia published the paper that first brought to light the teratogenic effects of warfarin on the human fetus.

He next fulfilled his commitment to serve in the U.S. Navy and then successfully competed for a grant through the American Cancer Society, which funded his fellowship in gynecologic oncology under the tutelage of Felix Noah Rutledge at MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston.

During this period, he would form long-lasting bonds with his co-fellow, William Creasman. In 1976, DiSaia was recruited following a national search for a chair for the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of California, Irvine.

Accompanied by Quilligan, DiSaia sought to establish a traditional academic department at UC Irvine and would ultimately distinguish the Department of Ob/Gyn as one of the preeminent institutions dedicated to women’s health.

In addition to a nationally recognized residency program and robust volunteer clinical faculty comprised of community ob/gyns, the department flourished under his leadership with the establishment of four clinically directed and research-driven Divisions in Gynecologic Oncology, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, and Urogynecology.

Embedded in each … Continue reading Philip DiSaia, former head of Gynecologic Oncology Group, dies at 81

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