As a medical student in the 1960s, Gary Cunningham, M.D., loved internal medicine, surgery, and all things medical. He found the perfect fit as an obstetrician.
“Obstetrics is a mixture of all of these, and caring for women with myriad complications is challenging and rewarding intellectually and clinically,” said Dr. Cunningham, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
After five decades in practice, teaching and learning are what he loves most.
“I love teaching residents and Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellows in the care of the obstetrical patient with medical and surgical complications, as well as those with obstetrical complications. I am a lifelong learner, and there is not a day that goes by when I don’t learn something new from caring for Parkland patients,” he said.
In honor of his achievements, Dr. Cunningham has received the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Luella Klein Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an obstetrician and gynecologist who has dedicated his or her life in a significant way to women’s health.
“The award is especially meaningful because it comes from my peers, and it reaffirms in my mind that I have made a contribution to our specialty of obstetrics and gynecology and the care of all women,” Dr. Cunningham said. “While I’m immensely proud of the award, it would not be possible without the help and support of incredibly dedicated residents, fellows, and faculty with whom I’ve worked over the past 50 years. And it would be impossible to accomplish the clinical successes without the contribution of hardworking and extremely committed nurses and other hospital personnel.”
A 1968 graduate of Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Dr. Cunningham completed his internship at Confederate Memorial Center in Shreveport and his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Louisiana State University Charity Hospital at New Orleans. He arrived at UT Southwestern in 1972 as a postdoctoral research fellow and joined the faculty in 1973. He was an attending physician at Parkland Memorial Hospital before becoming Chief of Obstetrics in 1981. He served as UTSW Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1983 to 2004 and as Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Parkland from 1982 to 2006.
A world-recognized authority on the hematological and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, he was the chief author/editor of the Williams Obstetrics textbook from the 18th through the 25th editions. Looking back over his career achievements, Dr. Cunningham is most proud of the ongoing work of the UT Southwestern team and programs at Parkland.
“Working over the years with a host of talented and dedicated people, we have continued to serve the indigent women in the Dallas area for Ob/Gyn care through Parkland Hospital. Our program has trained hundreds of Ob/Gyn residents and fellows who are now community practitioners – many in Dallas – and providing expert care for women in gynecology, obstetrics, gynecological oncology, family planning, and pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery,” he said.
“Our Department was so pleased to learn that Dr. Cunningham was selected to receive this prestigious honor,” said Steven Bloom, M.D., Associate Dean for Clinical Sciences and former Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Through his bedside teaching, his authorship of major textbooks and scientific papers, and his mentorship, Dr. Cunningham has made so many of us – both at UT Southwestern and beyond – better physicians.”