Member Spotlight

AACA Featured Member

John E. Skandalakis MD, PhD, FACS

1920 - 2009

Dr. John E. Skandalakis, an internationally renowned surgeon, is featured in our current Member Spotlight and recognized as one of the original 18 individuals who met in February 1983 to plan the founding of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists.  Dr. Skandalakis was handpicked by Dr. Ralph Ger and Dr. Ollie Beahrs as one of those original 18 members because they recognized him for his surgical competence, leadership ability and drive to achieve his goals.

John Skandalakis was born in 1920, in Sparta, Greece, the youngest son of the local district attorney.  As a young man, John became an underground resistance fighter during the Nazi occupation of Greece (1941–1945) during WW II.  The Allied defeat of the Nazis did not bring peace, however, as Greece was then torn by a Communist insurgency and civil war (1946 – 1949) in which John also fought.  Despite so many years of turmoil John graduated from medical school and was certified in general surgery by the University of Athens in 1950.  Also in 1950, he met and married Mimi Cutis of Mariette, Georgia, and then immigrated to the United States.  From 1951 to 1957 Dr. Skandalakis completed his surgical residency and fellowship programs at St Joseph’s Infirmary, Grady Memorial Hospital, and Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.  

Dr. John Skandalakis became a US citizen in 1956 and started teaching anatomy at Emory University.  John pursued his love for anatomy by earning a Ph.D. in Anatomy from Emory University in 1962.  Dr. Skanadalakis spent his entire academic career at Emory rising through the ranks from assistant to full professor of surgery and anatomy.  He was named the Chris Carlos Professor of Surgical Anatomy and Technique in 1977, a Distinguished Professor at Emory in 1980, founding Director of the Carlos and Davis Center for Surgical Anatomy and Technique in 1990, and received the Distinguished Medical Achievement Award from the Emory University School of Medicine in 1999.  Dr. Skandalakis was well known for his research publications advancing surgical techniques, service on numerous surgical editorial boards, and his 15 textbooks.  His most popular are: Embryology for Surgeons, Anatomical Complications in General Surgery, Surgical Anatomy and Technique: a Pocket Manual, and his two-volume Surgical Anatomy: the Embryologic and Anatomic Basis of Modern Surgery.

During his long career “Dr. Skan,” as his colleagues, patients, and students affectionately knew him, was recognized with numerous awards. As a young man the Greek government awarded him a memorial medal for his underground Resistance against the Nazis.  Later he was given the Phoenix medal for his efforts to improve the relationship between Greece and the United States.  In 1992, John was bestowed the title of “Immortal” by the Academy of Athens, a tradition that dates back to Plato’s school of philosophy (385 BC).  Among his many activities, perhaps John’s greatest passion was for teaching his medical students and residents.  He was always an enthusiastic supporter of advancing clinical anatomy for the benefit of his patients.  In recognition of his lifetime achievements in clinical anatomy and his strong role in the establishment and promotion of AACA among fellow surgeons Dr. Skandalakis was recognized as our Honored Member in 1998 by AACA at the national meeting in Lexington, KY.