Walter J. Pories ’52, MD, professor in the department of surgery at Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University was selected as a 2012–13 recipient of the annual East Carolina University Lifetime Achievement for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award.
He joined ECU in 1977 as chair of the department of surgery at the university’s medical school, which had just begun its four-year program. While here, he modified a type of weight-loss surgery into the “Greenville Gastric Bypass” and showed conclusively that not only does it result in durable weight loss but also causes a long-term remission of type 2 diabetes in patients who have diabetes and undergo the surgery.
A biology/chemistry major at Wesleyan with a strong humanities background, he earned his medical degree at the University of Rochester.
Among other honors, Pories is the 2001 recipient of O. Max Gardner Award, the highest honor given by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. Pories retired from operating at age 70 but still follows up with former patients and has continued with research related to his Greenville Gastric Bypass and diabetes.
When asked to name “two or three highlights” of his career for ECU Today, he replied:
“Seeing a patient get better. That’s an incredible reward. You operate on a baby with a congenital defect, and you come back three or four hours later and the baby is hungry and wants something to drink. That’s amazing.
“Making a difference with students. There is great joy in restoring a student’s confidence, in broadening his outlook, in validating her capabilities to manage difficult concepts. Teaching is such a privilege.
“Making a difference in society. You get a whole lot more back than you give. When my mentor, Dr. (William) Strain (at the University of Rochester) and I discovered that zinc was an essential element for animals and man, we showed that two cents worth of zinc added to a ton of feed increased feed efficiency by 20 percent, brought broilers to market in six rather than 10 weeks and accelerated first egg laying by 45 days, we made a difference in food production around the world. That’s very rewarding and made the effort of testing that thesis very worthwhile.”