Campus veteran Whitten to lead department

By Russell Rian

Dr. Charles Whitten, professor of anesthesiology and pain management, has been appointed chairman of the department.

Dr. Charles Whitten

“What I bring to the job is 28 years of experience on this campus getting to know all the ins and outs of the institution. I’m like the guy who started out in the mailroom of a large organization and becomes CEO. I know every piece of a very large, complex puzzle,” said Dr. Whitten, who has served as interim chair since 2007 in addition to being the department’s vice chairman of educational affairs. “That global knowledge really helps in managing a large multi-institutional department such as ours.”

On any given night, the department has more than a dozen call teams in one subspecialty or another working at different locations, including anesthetizing locations at UT Southwestern University Hospitals, Parkland Memorial Hospital, Children’s Medical Center Dallas, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and the Dallas VA Medical Center.

The department plays a major role in coverage of acute and chronic pain services, as well as services in the intensive care units at all of these hospitals.

“Demand for the department’s clinical expertise has been exploding rapidly as more and more subspecialties take on therapies that require some level of anesthesia support outside the operating room as well as inside,” said Dr. Whitten, who holds the M.T. “Pepper” Jenkins Professorship in Anesthesiology.

Dr. Rod Rohrich, chairman of plastic surgery, who headed the search committee and holds the Crystal Charity Ball Distinguished Chair in Plastic Surgery and the Betty and Warren Woodward Chair in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, said: “Dr. Whitten has the trust and confidence of his faculty, the administration and surgical leaders at UT Southwestern. We look forward to Dr. Whitten expanding the level of excellence for his department.”

Dr. Whitten earned his medical degree from UT Southwestern in 1984 and completed his internship and fellowship at Baylor University Medical Center and his residency at
UT Southwestern. He joined the department as a clinical instructor of anesthesiology in 1988, advancing to professor on the clinical scholar track in 1999. He was granted tenure in 2005. He has served as head of cardiovascular/thoracic anesthesiology and of anesthesiology services at Parkland, and as program director for the core residency.

Dr. Alfred Gilman, executive vice president for academic affairs, provost and dean of
UT Southwestern Medical School, said: “Dr. Whitten is a superb teacher and physician and an extremely fine individual. The department is in skilled and thoughtful hands.”