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Dean Dewitt Lewis

Dean Dewitt Lewis
Date: 1931
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 40 x 30.5 in.
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Dean Dewitt Lewis


Lewis, a former chief surgeon for The Johns Hopkins Hospital, was born in Kewanee, Illinois. He received his A.B. from Lake Forest University in 1895 and his M.D. from the University of Chicago’s Rush Medical College in 1899. After completing an internship at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, Lewis became an assistant and then associate in anatomy at the University of Chicago.

Lewis helped to establish the Archives of Surgery as a forum for young surgeons and was the journal’s first editor from 1920 to 1940. His own research covered several different areas, including the pituitary gland, nerve anastomosis, and acromegaly. His method of joining severed nerves by means of a “cable” transplant was considered to be particularly innovative.

Like many of his medical school colleagues, Lewis served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War I. He was chief of the surgical service of Evacuation Hospital Number 5 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his work with the American Expeditionary Forces in France.
In 1925, Lewis was recruited to become the surgeon-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and professor of surgery in the School of Medicine. He held these posts until 1939, when he retired because of ill health.

Although he had no previous affiliation with Johns Hopkins before his appointment in surgery, Lewis played an important role in fostering the beginnings of an alumni association for School of Medicine graduates and former hospital housestaff. Lewis organized the Johns Hopkins Surgical Society, which in 1940 merged with the Johns Hopkins Medical Association and has become the largest and most loyal alumni organizations of its kind -- the Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association.