Member Spotlight

AACA Featured Member

Ralph Ger (1921-2012).MRCS and FRCS 1953; MB BCh Capetown 1942;
FRCS Edin 1953; FCS South Africa 1954; MD and FACS.

More than anyone else, Dr. Ralph Ger, a surgeon and clinical anatomist, was responsible for the founding of the AACA. Our organization arose from the concern in the late 1970’s of surgeons and anatomy educators in Great Britain and the United States that continuing changes in the instruction of anatomy were affecting medical students and their eventual ability to practice medicine adequately. In answer to the challenge the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1977 established the British Association of Clinical Anatomists (BACA). Ralph Ger attended a meeting of BACA in 1982 where he was inspired to form a similar organization in the United States. Dr. Ger called a meeting of his American colleagues in early 1983, and the wheels were set in motion to establish the AACA. (For more on the founding of AACA click here.)   Dr. Ralph Ger remained instrumental in the growth of AACA and a strong proponent of clinical anatomy education throughout his professional life.

Ralph Ger was born in South Africa and was graduated from the University of Cape Town Medical School in 1942. Directly upon graduation, Dr. Ger entered the South African Army Medical Corps where he served for the duration of World War II. After the war Dr. Ger traveled to Great Britain for additional surgical training and earned Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, (FRCS, England) and FRCS (Scotland). He returned to South Africa and became a faculty member at the University of Cape Town Medical School and attending surgeon at several of its hospitals.  

The next chapter of Ralph Ger’s life began in 1966 when he rejected apartheid policies in South Africa and emigrated to the United States. He accepted a faculty position in Surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and rose to the rank of full professor. Dr. Ger continued his successful career when in 1986 he moved to take over the Chair of Surgery at Winthrop University Hospital and as Professor of Surgery at SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine on Long Island. He made major contributions in the study and use of muscle and myocutaneous flaps in general surgery, the treatment of hernias, colonic surgery, and early clinical work with lasers. After his retirement, Dr. Ger continued his relationship with anatomy at Einstein as a visiting professor until his final years.

Throughout his career, Dr. Ger was a strong proponent of clinical anatomy education, especially after he helped to establish AACA. In its early years, Dr. Ger worked to insure the success of AACA by serving as one of its first cadre of officers and by helping to create Clinical Anatomy, the official journal of AACA, and serving as one of its first co-editors. Ralph Ger was recognized for his contributions numerous times by AACA at its national meetings, and he continued to support AACA and attend its annual meeting until shortly before his death in 2012 at the age of 91. (For additional information on Dr. Ger click here.)