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Visiting professor brings expertise to IU School of Medicine


Frank Papay, MD, brought his expertise to Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Surgery to present for its Grand Rounds as a visiting professor for the John J. Coleman lecture.

Papay is the chair of the Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His plastic surgery work was featured in a National Geographic article “The Story of a Face.” As of August 2018, only 40 face transplants have been performed worldwide—here in the U.S., Papay is credited for being one of the first surgeons to perform a near-total face transplant.

During his visit, he spoke of his experiences with facial transplants, touting the incredible amount of medical staff and specialists who are all involved with such a complicated procedure. Papay also conducted a lab with IU School of Medicine plastic surgery residents, walking them through the process of a facial removal.

Dr. Frank Papay demonstrates surgical face removal to IU School of Medicine residents

“Today we showed them the anatomic approach for a face transplant, the crucial steps, and what the danger points are throughout the face transplant,” Papay said.

During the lab, Papay quizzed the residents on aspects of anatomy, something he said is crucial for all young doctors to know.

“It’s a multitude of anatomical lessons. I was quizzing them just on simple anatomy of the head, neck and how they’re crucial to understanding the relationship of anatomy when you’re doing something as complex as a face transplant or something as simple as an orbital fracture,” explained Papay.Indiana University School of Medicine plastic surgery residents participate in a lab led by Dr. Frank Papay.

The experience was something unique to residents, as they got to have a hands-on experience with one of the leading experts in the field of facial transplants in the U.S.

It’s cool to be able to see Dr. Papay come to our program and show us what he’s learned over the past couple of decades,” said Scott Loewenstein, MD, a Department of Surgery resident. “Especially in a one-on-one, hands-on setting, that’s not something you  get every day.”

For other residents, Papay’s visit gave them an up-close chance to observe all the different facets of an operation as complex as a facial transplant.

Dr. Frank Papay demonstrates surgical face removal to IU School of Medicine residents

“It was taking all of these previous approaches to different problems and putting them all together,” said Julia Cook, MD, a resident with the Department of Surgery. “I thought that was really interesting and very helpful. It puts everything in a nice, very comprehensive perspective.”

As he finished his lab, Papay offered some final advice for all the young doctors in attendance.

“Go to the anatomy lab as often as possible,” Papay said. “As Malcolm Gladwell says, it takes 10,000 hours, so start on your 10,000 hours.”

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.

Marco Gutierrez

Communication Coordinator

Marco Gutierrez is a communications coordinator for the Indiana University School of Medicine, where he supports the Department of Surgery and the Office of Strategic Communications. Before joining the Office of Strategic Communications, Marco worked for...