UF alum co-authors book on the history of radiology at Johns Hopkins
By MELANIE STAWICKI AZAM
After more than four decades at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s radiology department, Bob W. Gayler, M.D., has seen plenty of change.
From using plain film imaging in the early days to the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, the field of diagnostic radiology has dramatically advanced.
Now, Gayler, a 1963 UF College of Medicine graduate who has been on the faculty of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine since 1970, has documented many of those changes, the people involved, and how the field of radiology has evolved.
He and journalist Otha W. Linton co-authored a book, published in July 2011, that chronicles the history of the Johns Hopkins’ radiology department.
A signed copy, “Johns Hopkins Radiology 1896-2010,” was hand-delivered to Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine, during Gayler’s Sept. 2 visit to his alma mater.
Currently an associate professor of gastrointestinal radiology at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Gayler grew up in Palm Beach County. He was one of six children born to parents who had both dropped out of high school. His mother wanted him to go to medical school after his older brother, who had planned to become a doctor, was killed in World War II.
“I was a substitute for my older brother,” he said.
Gayler received a scholarship to Duke University, where he studied chemistry. He chose to return to Florida for his medical education, where UF had recently opened its medical school, graduating its first class in 1960.
“I was intrigued with getting back to Florida and the newness of Florida,” he said. “(And) It was very clear that (the dean) Dr. Harrell was focused on education.”
While at UF, he met radiology professor Gil Brogdon, M.D., who became his mentor and was the one who got him interested in radiology.
“I just kind of liked the aspects of dealing with the images and problem solving,” he said.
UF’s medical school had a young, energetic faculty recruited from around the country and the students were a small, close-knit group. Gayler and his classmates knew the college’s teachers and administrators well — he even recalled housesitting for a few of his professors.
Gainesville and campus was also smaller with less entertainment in the early 1960s. One favorite eatery downtown was, “The Ivy Room,” which had a good, inexpensive chicken dinner, he recalled.
“Archer Road was still two lanes when I was in medical school,” he said. “None of the hospital expansion was there.”
Like about half of his classmates, Gayler was married and his first child was born while he was a medical student. Luckily, living expenses were pretty affordable.
“The tuition was well under $1,000 a year,” Gayler said. “And we rented housing for about $40 a month.”
He completed a residency in radiology at Johns Hopkins then served two years in the public health service in New York, before joining the faculty of Johns Hopkins.
He found that he liked academics and found it more stimulating than going into private practice. Martin W. Donner, M.D. who chaired the radiology department at Johns Hopkins, was “like a combination uncle or older brother,” he said.
Gayler, who has served as interim chair for the radiology department, also is responsible for buying new equipment for the department.
“I get to deal with expensive toys,” he said with a smile.
From ultrasounds to MRIs, Gayler said he’s seen a lot of amazing innovations that have allowed radiologists to better examine their patients and improve their diagnoses.
“I still think MRIs are mindboggling,” he said. “An MRI is magic.”