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Early History of the PSRC

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- Peter Randall,MD

One wonders how many really great ideas have been conceived while watching a swallow, or hiking in the high country, or resting at the top of a ski run. As near as I can determine - and it is not often that one can get back to the real beginning - the beginning must have been preceded by a need, frustration, and determination. However, the idea of the Plastic Surgery Research Council was probably conceived on the high seas. At least it was somewhere between Long Island Sound and Block Island, outward bound on the "Sally-R" of Manhasset. Robin Anderson and Milt Edgerton were co-skippers, with Tommy and Pat urging them on.

There was a growing feeling among the "younger" plastic surgeons of a need for a forum to discuss research which was not necessarily completed, but rather to discuss what they were doing with their problems, what their difficulties were, and what were some of their initial conclusions. It was thought that the "big societies" were jousting fields for the political giants, and it was felt that research was very much taking a back seat. The American College of Surgeons had started its Surgical Forum in 1949, and its Plastic Surgery Section under Joe Murray in 1953 (the thirty-sixth volume of the Surgical Forum was dedicated to Joe Murray in 1985).

Bob and Marge McCormack attended a subsequent meeting with Milt, Robin, et. al., in Baltimore, and at that time, the ladies were particularly concerned that the name should not be a "Society" or an "Association" or anything that would imply selection and "keeping out." Another meeting was held in Steve Lewis's room at the Coronado Beach Hotel in San Diego in 1954 at the time of the Board Exams and the Association Meeting. This group included Milt Edgerton, Steve Lewis, Joe Murray, Ray Brauer, Bob McCormack, Fred McCoy, and Dave Robinson. Louis T. Byars of St. Louis, and Brad Cannon of Boston also stopped by and added their encouragement. Bill Byars urged that they "keep it young" and Brad Cannon noted "you people who are doing the research should get together and start meeting at various Universities and have an honest-to-gosh discussion in the research field utilizing not only yourselves but the local talent at the various Universities."

Sixteen names were picked to be invited to an "Organizational Meeting" to be held in Baltimore in the fall of 1955. The word "picked" implies selecting a few from the many, whereas actually this was more a search for the "any" from the "few." Advice was sought from T.G. Blocker of Galveston, and he also was extremely supportive and enthusiastic, though cautioning that we should expect considerable opposition. He also urged that we "keep it young" and suggested the name "P.U.S." for "Plastic University Surgeons." However, the word "University" itself implied restriction and was ultimately discarded. The word "Council" was eventually (but not initially) chosen, and had literally been taken from the Indian usage of the word to indicate an open gathering of all those concerned. It has served this purpose well.