Medicine
3:39 pm
Mon April 18, 2011

UM surgeon resigns from post after controversial editorial

Dr. Lazar Greenfield, an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan, resigned as president-elect of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) after writing a controversial editorial in a February issue of  Surgery News. Greenfield also served as the lead editor for ACS' content in the publication - a post he has also resigned.

The editorial suggested that semen has a mood-enhancing effect on women. It concluded, "so there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates."

The entire February issue of Surgery News was retracted by ACS after receiving complaints.

You can find Dr. Greenfield's editorial as originally posted on Retraction Watch.

Sexism in Surgery

Pauline Chen, M.D. wrote a piece on The New York Times blog "Well."

Chen posted reactions from some members of the American College of Surgeons to Greenfield's editorial:

“I was aghast,” said Dr. Colleen Brophy, a professor of surgery at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, and a member of the organization for over 20 years. Dr. Brophy, who served as chairwoman of its surgical research committee, publicly resigned from the College on Thursday. “I’ve gone back and reviewed the science, and it’s erroneous,” she said. “But I’m resigning from the college not so much because of the editorial but because of the leadership’s response to it.”

Chen writes that sexism, in-part, keeps some women from entering the field of surgery.

Some of Greenfield's colleagues came to his defense saying in their experience, Greenfield has gone out of his way to recruit more women to surgery.

Chen spoke with a colleague of Greenfield's at the University of Michigan, Dr. Diane Simeone. Simeone is a co-author on a rencent article in the Annals of Surgery titled Is There Still a Glass Ceiling for Women in Academic Surgery?

Simeone said bias is there, but she didn't see it from Greenfield:

"There still is a lot of gender bias in surgery, and I have seen it myself on multiple fronts,” she said. “That was never evident from Dr. Greenfield. I think it’s important to know that this is one event and to weigh it against a long career where he has always been completely above board and a role model for supporting women in surgery."

Dr. Lazar Greenfield is the inventor of the Greenfield filter, a medical device that stops blood clots from forming in the lungs.