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Seymour Schwartz (1928 – 2020), founding editor of definitive surgery textbook

by Linnea Crowther

Seymour Schwartz was the founding editor of an influential and essential medical textbook, “Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery.”

Influential surgeon

Schwartz was affiliated with the University of Rochester for decades, having completed his internship there in 1950 and gone on to practice at the university’s Strong Memorial Hospital. In 1969, he was one of six editors of the new textbook “Principles of Surgery,” and his fellow editors named him editor in chief. He went on to helm the textbook’s next seven editions, and it was later named “Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery” in his honor. The text remains an essential part of surgical students’ education. Schwartz was also the longtime editor of the journal “Contemporary Surgery” and the “Yearbook of Surgery.” He was a mentor to generations of medical students, and he patented an electrical nerve stimulator to treat high blood pressure. In 2017, Schwartz was named an Icon of Surgery by the American College of Surgeons.

Notable quote

“Lifelong learning is essential… because the facts in fact change. I had once sent a paper in on treating blunt trauma to the spleen with blood in the abdomen by waiting. I said ‘every patient did not have to be operated.’ [The] paper was rejected. Now that’s how they treat one third of the patients.” —from a 2019 interview with McGraw-Hill Medical

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Tributes to Seymour Schwartz

Full obituary: The New York Times

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