Tribute to Carolyn Reed MD

Lauren Hooker
March 28, 2018
Carolyn Reed MD

Trailblazer for Women in Surgery: A Tribute to Carolyn Reed, M.D.

Carolyn E. Reed, M.D., was born on March 4, 1950 in Farmington, Maine. She graduated with honors from the University of Maine in 1972 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received her M.D. degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1977. She trained in general medicine and cardiothoracic surgery at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Reed joined the Medical University of South Carolina as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery in 1985. She was the first woman faculty member in the MUSC Department of Surgery. She was subsequently promoted to Associate Professor in 1989 and full Professor with Tenure in 1997. 

During her career at MUSC, Dr. Reed held numerous roles, particularly in the development of the Hollings Cancer Center. She served as Associate Director for Clinical Affairs (1998-2000), Director of the Hollings Cancer Center (2000- 2004), and Deputy Director of Clinical Affairs (2004-2012). Dr. Reed was a nationally and internationally recognized thoracic surgeon and oncologist with an expertise in lung and esophageal cancer. At the time of her death in 2012, Dr. Reed was the Alice Ruth Folk Endowed Chair of Clinical Oncology. 

Dr. Reed was known for her commitment to medical education as well as her advocacy for research. She held multiple research grants from the National Institutes of Health and other organizations. She served as an investigator in numerous cancer-related clinical trials. She authored over 100 peer reviewed publications, 20 book chapters and was the Editor of the text General Thoracic Surgery (7th Edition), which is widely known as the “bible” for general thoracic surgery. In addition, she made over 120 scientific presentations at thoracic surgical meetings around the world. 

As an outspoken advocate for women in surgery, specifically in the specialty of thoracic surgery, Dr. Reed served as a mentor and advisor for numerous medical students, residents, and women faculty at MUSC and across the nation. In 1987, she received the Student Teaching Award and was subsequently nominated four times for the Golden Apple Award for teaching. 

At the 2013 Society of Thoracic Surgeons meeting, Dr. Reed was posthumously awarded the Socrates Award by the Thoracic Surgery Residents Association in recognition of her many contributions to thoracic surgery education. 

Dr. Reed was a member of many prestigious surgical organizations and held a number of leadership positions in these organizations, including President of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, the first woman to ever serve as president of a major thoracic surgical organization. Dr. Reed served on the Council of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the oldest thoracic surgical organization in the world. She served as a Governor in the American College of Surgeons and as Vice Chair of the Thoracic Surgery Residency Review Committee. 

Dr. Reed played numerous important roles in the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS), the largest organization of thoracic surgeons in the United States.  

She served on the Executive Council, the Program Committee, and a five-year term as Treasurer. At its annual meeting in January 2013, Dr. Reed was elected posthumously as President of the STS, a decision that had been made long before her death. She was the first woman to be elected President of the STS. She was also posthumously awarded the Society of Thoracic Surgeons Distinguished Service Award. She served on the Boards of the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education and the Joint Council for Thoracic Surgery Education. She was the first woman to ever be elected to the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and was subsequently elected as Chairman (2005-2006), again the first woman to serve as leader of this organization. 

Dr. Reed died on November 16, 2012 from pancreatic cancer.

References: Fred A. Crawford, Jr., M.D. (October 2013). Carolyn Elaine Reed, M.D. March 4, 1950–November 16, 2012. The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 96(4), 1517

About the Author

Lauren Hooker

Keywords: Cardiothoracic Surgery, News, SurgeOn