History of the Division

Division History: Chief

Dr. Simon Fredricks (late ‘70’s)
Dr. William Riley (1979-85)
Dr. Donald Parks (1985-2013)
Dr. Richard Andrassy (2013-2020)
Dr. Matthew Greives (2020 – Present)

The Dunn Burn Unit

1979: Founded by Dr. James Smith and Dr. David Bessinger

  • Institute for Thermal Injuries
  • 12 rooms in Robertson

1983: Dr. Parks named director
1986: Dunn Foundation established Dr. Thomas D. Cronin Chair

  • Dr. Parks named first recipient
  • Steven Dunn was a patient of Dr. Cronin

Dr. Parks developed program with Dunn Foundation to open the John S. Dunn Sr. Burn Center

Opened in 2003 in Jones Pavilion

Only certified Burn Center in Houston

1986: Founded Camp Janus

  • Pediatric Burn Camp

The Residency Program

1978 3 full time faculty
1 residents per year x 2 years
1984 2 residents per year x 2 years
2013 6 full time faculty
Expanded to 3 year program
2021 10 full time faculty
2022 Integrated + Independent Program

History of the Plastic Surgery Division at UTHealth

Researched and compiled by Michael Talanker (McGovern Class of 2024)
Partly Adapted from Skilled Hands by William Henry Keller & Heather Green Wooten

Like the Department of Surgery as a whole, the McGovern Medical School Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is rooted in the school’s rich history of pioneering surgical excellence as well as programs in trauma care, pediatric surgery, and other disciplines. The Division has played a key role in helping propel McGovern from a young medical school in 1969 to one of the largest medical schools in the US, and the largest in Texas.

In the late 1970s, the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Division was established as a small service in the medical school. Dr. Simon Fredricks (1926-2018), the founder of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, served as its first chief. In 1977, the Life Flight® initiative spearheaded by Dr. James “Red” Duke put Hermann Hospital (the school’s partner hospital, now Memorial Hermann) in the spotlight of burns and trauma care after it saved lives during the Texaco Refinery explosion. Shortly after, in 1978, the program took its first, two-year independent plastic surgery fellow.

Dr. William Riley took over as Division Chair in 1979. In the same year, Dr. James Smith and Dr. David Beesinger created the foundations of a burn center in Hermann Hospital: “The Institute for Thermal Injuries.” This was, in reality, a sign in front of twelve patient rooms cordoned off in the Robertson Pavilion of Hermann. In 1985, Dr. Donald H. Parks was recruited as the new division chief by then Department Chair Dr. Frank Moody. Moody enlisted Parks to both form a comprehensive burn center and augment the Plastics Division to work in closer partnership with trauma. During these earlier years, up to three plastic surgery faculty focused specifically on trauma and burn reconstruction, and thus were instrumental in the growing nationwide recognition of trauma care at the medical school.

Steve Dunn, the head of the John S. Dunn Foundation, would work with Dr. Parks to upgrade the Institute for Thermal Injuries into a comprehensive burn center. Steve Dunn himself suffered severe burns and was treated by Dr. Thomas D. Cronin, a Houston surgeon who had also performed the first breast augmentation and was a former president of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. This would lead Dunn to establish the Dr. Thomas D. Cronin Chair of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 1986, naming Dr. Parks as its first recipient. Eventually, the partnership led to the creation of the Dunn Burn Center in the Jones Pavilion. Using funds from a variety of sources, Dr. Parks would also organize Camp Janus, an entirely free weekend recreational camp for children who have suffered from burns. The Dunn Burns Center was directed by Parks and the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery for over twenty years and remains today as the only comprehensive burn center in Houston. Dr. Parks remained the Division Director until his retirement in 2013.

The Division evolved further when the Department of Pediatrics was formed in 2007. Bolstered by new pediatric-focused technology, the department recruited surgeons across specialties, namely in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. John F. Teichgraeber was recruited by Dr. Parks to head the section of Pediatric Plastic Surgery. The Texas Cleft-Craniofacial team had been established in the 1950s at the Dental School and remains one of the oldest and largest cleft teams in the state of Texas. “Dr. T” was instrumental in moving the Texas Cleft-Craniofacial Team from the UT School of Dentistry to the medical school in 2007 where it remains today. Dr. T served as the director of the cleft team from 2007 until his retirement in 2019. Upon his retirement, grateful family, friends, colleagues, and patients established the John F. Teichgraeber Educational Endowment to fund research and educational activities related to pediatric plastic surgery for the division.

Dr. Richard Andrassy served as the interim Chief of the Division from 2013 until 2020, when Dr. Matthew Greives was selected to lead the division in expanding its educational and clinical footprint. With diverse talent from around the country, the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Division has evolved from its focus on burns and trauma reconstruction into a highly multidisciplinary service. Across the medical school’s affiliated sites, faculty, fellows, and residents perform a variety of cases with an emphasis on post-traumatic reconstruction, microvascular/free-flap surgery, maxillofacial, cranio-facial, gender affirmation, hand, and aesthetic surgery. The independent residency program has expanded to 8 full-time faculty members, accepting two residents per year. In 2022, the Division is proud to add a new six-year integrated plastic and reconstructive surgery residency to its long-standing three-year independent program.