LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.



LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S. the Charles R. Drew professor of Surgery, Howard University College of Medicine, is a surgeon, oncologist, medical educator, and leader in professional and civic organizations.

He was born on May 22, 1930, in Tallahassee, Florida and grew up in Quincy, Florida. At age eighteen, he was awarded the Bachelor of Science degree (summa cum laude), from Florida A&M College. In 1952 he received his M.D. degree from the Howard University College of Medicine, ranking first in his class. From 1952 through 1959 his medical training continued as an intern at Homer G. Phillips Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri, assistant resident in surgery at Freedmen's Hospital, and senior fellow in cancer surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He began his military career at the rank of Captain, serving as Chief of General Surgery at the United States Army Hospital in Munich, Germany. He joined the Howard University faculty in 1962. In addition to teaching, he has served as Acting Dean of the School of Medicine, and Chairman of the Department of Surgery, a position he held for twenty-
five years. In 1992, he was named the Charles R. Drew Professor, a position he currently holds. He is a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Gastroenterology. Dr. Leffall has served as Visiting Professor and Guest Lecturer at more than 200 medical institutions in the United States and abroad. He has authored or coauthored more than 130 articles and chapters. His professional life has been devoted to the study of cancer, particularly among African-Americans. In 1979 as national president of the American Cancer Society, he launched a program (the first of this type) that focused on the challenge of cancer in Black Americans with special attention to the increasing incidence and mortality of cancer in this group. Completing his forty-second year on the Howard University faculty, he has taught approximately 4,500 medical students and helped train nearly 250 general surgery residents.

He was the first African-American President of the American Cancer Society, Society of Surgical Oncology, Society of Surgical Chairmen, the Washington Academy of Surgery, and the American College of Surgeons. He has received ten honorary degrees, among them: Howard University, Florida A&M University, Georgetown University and Amherst College. In 1987 The Biennial LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. Award was established by the M.D. Anderson Hospital, the Tumor Institute, and the Intercultural Cancer Council, in Houston, Texas. This award recognizes Dr. Leffall’s contributions to cancer prevention, treatment, and education in minority and economically disadvantaged communities. In 1989, the citizens of Quincy, Florida named a street, a path, and the surgical wing in the Gadsden Memorial Hospital in his honor. The LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. Surgical Society was formed in March 1995; the Leffall Chair in Surgery was established in February 1996; and the Metropolitan Washington Chapter of the American College of Surgeons established the LaSalle D. Leffall, Jr. Prize in 1996. He was named Distinguished Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Dr. Leffall and his family established the Martha J. and LaSalle D. Leffall, Sr. Endowed Scholarship Fund and Endowed Professorship in Science at Florida A & M University in 1997 in honor of his mother and father. His memoirs entitled “Grace Notes—A Cancer Surgeon’s Odyssey,” will be published by the Howard University Press in 2004.

In addition to his professorship at Howard University; he is also currently chairman of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; the President’s Cancer Panel; the Board of Directors of the National Dialogue on Cancer. Dr. Leffall and his wife Ruthie have one son, LaSalle, III an honors graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Law and Business Schools. He is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Housing Partnership Foundation in Washington, D.C. Dr. Leffall is an avid supporter of jazz music. Because of his long-standing and close relationship with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, Dr. Leffall represents an important link with one of the most imposing figures in modern jazz.