ECU News Services

youtube twitter facebook rss feed

ECU surgeon receives UNC's highest faculty honor

Dr. Walter J. Pories Jr. Photo by Cliff Hollis
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (May 11, 2001)   —   Dr. Walter J. Pories Jr., professor of surgery and biochemistry at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, received the O. Max Gardner Award May 11 from the Board of Governors of the 16-campus University of North Carolina. Pories was honored for his research and findings on the nutritional needs of children and the elderly, as well as his discoveries concerning morbid obesity and its relevance to adult-onset diabetes.

The Gardner Award, given annually since 1949, was established by the will of North Carolina Gov. Oliver Max Gardner to recognize faculty who have "made the greater contributions to the welfare of the human race." It is the only award for which all faculty members of the 16 UNC campuses are eligible. Recipients are nominated by their chancellors and selected by the Board of Governors. The 2001 award carries a $10,000 cash prize and was presented by UNC Board of Governors Chairman Benjamin S. Ruffin, UNC President Molly Corbett Broad, and Gardner Award Committee Chairman Robert F. Warwick of Wilmington.

Pories joined the ECU medical faculty in 1977 and served as founding chairman of the Department of Surgery until 1996. Well-known for his clinical and research findings using gastric bypass surgery to treat diabetes mellitus, he was the first to demonstrate that the surgery cures the disease. The procedure has been dubbed the Greenville Gastric Bypass in recognition of his work.

A 1952 graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Pories received his medical degree with honor from the University of Rochester. His contributions to science began early in his career with the accidental discovery that zinc was an essential element in animal nutrition. Today, his findings about the important role zinc plays in human health are reflected in every mineral and vitamin preparation, in infant formulas, in liquid nutritional supplements for the elderly and in prenatal vitamins formulated to prevent birth defects.

Pories also had tremendous impact on the training of future surgeons. At ECU, he has received the Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of Teaching Award and an Excellence in Teaching Award as the best clinical teacher in the School of Medicine. In 1997, he earned the Honored Surgeon Award from the N.C. Chapter of the American College. At the national level, he helped develop the first National Curriculum for the Residency in Surgery. He also has been honored with the Frederic Douglass Stubbs Award of the National Medical Society for "Outstanding Contributions to the Training of Black Surgeons," and received the Association for Surgical Education National Teaching Award.

Currently vice president of the N.C. Medical Board, Pories also serves on the National Institute of Health's National Task Force on Prevention and Treatment of Obesity and the N.C. Physicians Advisory Group. In 1994, he founded the Eastern Carolina Health Care Organization, which developed the Pitt Community Care Plan, a pilot program that provides health care to Medicaid recipients in eastern North Carolina. In addition, he is editor-in-chief of Current Surgery and serves on the editorial board of several other medical journals, including Obesity Surgery, Journal of Cancer Education and Obesity Research.

In letters supporting Pories' nomination for the Gardner Award, colleagues described him as "the perfect humanitarian" and praise "the multiple ways he has helped to improve the health of the people in North Carolina." A fellow professor in the ECU medical school commended Pories for working "tirelessly in the most humble and unassuming manner to improve problems which he has the vision to identify and tackle. He has tackled some of our most difficult surgical, medical and societal problems and has been successful in these efforts."

For more information contact the Office of News and Information at (252) 744-2481 or Joni Worthington, UNC General Admi


Contact: Jeannine Manning Hutson | 252-744-2481