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From sextuplet to surgeon: Dilley focuses on Hoosier health

From sextuplet to surgeon: Dilley focuses on Hoosier health

Nearly 26 years ago, Julian Dilley was the last of his five siblings—the first set of surviving sextuplets born in the United States—to go home after being born prematurely. Now, he’s the first person in his family to become a physician.

The Dilley Sextuplets sitting together as children

The Dilley Sextuplets sitting together as children

Growing up, the Dilley family was no different than any other Hoosier family. Well, except for a yearly interview with “Good Morning America” and occasional free trip to Disney World. Despite the buzz around their family, Keith and Becki Dilley kept their six children grounded—but with big dreams. For Julian, that meant pursuing a career as a physician.

“Medicine has always been a large part of my life,” Julian said. “My five siblings and I were born at 31 weeks and required special monitoring during our first few years of life. Although we always worked in a team, our parents always took the time to help us grow our individual interests.”

Early curiosity

Julian’s early interests drew him to become a budding scientist. He often studied insects and other living creatures outside his childhood Berne, Indiana home. His scientific curiosity continues to weave its way through Julian’s entire life. As an undergraduate student in the IUPUI School of Science, Julian researched pre-clinical models of alcohol use disorder under the mentorship of Janice C. Froelich, PhD at Indiana University School of Medicine. Later, as a medical student, Dilley worked on orthopaedics research projects with R. Michael Meneghini, MD.

“Patient care and research are both important to me,” Julian said. “It is fulfilling to see how research can impact clinical patient care. I’m thankful that Dr. Meneghini showed me how to balance clinical research with a high-volume surgical case load as an orthopaedic physician.”

Rural roots

This summer, Julian will begin his residency in orthopaedic surgery at IU School of Medicine. Even though he’ll be staying in Indianapolis for the next phase of training, Julian’s decision to choose this highly-competitive field connects him back to his rural Hoosier roots.

“My first exposure to orthopaedic surgery was as a child in my small Indiana town,” Julian said. “During this time, I saw the immediate and positive impact orthopaedic surgery had on farmers in my community. These medical interventions helped restore lives after devastating accidents with farming devices. I wanted to be able to give back to my community in a similar way.”

Helping Hoosiers

The Dilley sextuplets together as adults

The Dilley sextuplets together as adults

Julian said he feels prepared to meet the need for skilled physicians in Indiana and can’t think of a better place to continue his training than IU School of Medicine—in a program that allows him to continue developing his skills both in patient care and research.

“I am very happy to be matched at IU School of Medicine for the orthopaedic surgery research track residency,” Julian said. “The faculty at IU are very invested in the education of their residents, and the residents were great to work with while I was a medical student. I am most excited to help more patients while expanding my knowledge of orthopaedic surgery. I am also excited to utilize my research skill set during the residency program’s year of embedded research training.”

After years of hard work paying off, Julian still accredits much of his success to his family—all seven of them. He looks forward to spending more time with them in the coming weeks before beginning his intense residency “boot camp” training in July.

Author

Whitney Walker

A self-described (but confirmed by everyone who knows her) nerd, Whitney coordinates communications for faculty, staff and medical student education. When Whitney's not searching for great IU School of Medicine stories or wrangling the MD student newsletter, she's likely out searching for a cool new coffee shop or doting over her 25 (and counting) houseplants. Contact Whitney at wmwalker@iu.edu.