Ed Ray, M.D., founding chair of the Division of Pulmonary Disease
When Alpha A. “Berry” Fowler, M.D., arrived on the MCV Campus in the mid-70s, Ed Ray, M.D., was just stepping down from his more than 20-year tenure as the founding chair of the Division of Pulmonary Disease. Ray, a specialist in tuberculosis, stayed on faculty and became a mentor to the younger Fowler, who had just earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and had come up to Richmond for internal medicine residency training.
Today, Fowler sits in the Pulmonary Disease Division’s chairman seat that Ray once held. “He was the first pulmonologist here and was a legend,” says Fowler. “He was an inspiration and one of the reasons I chose pulmonary medicine as a specialty.”
Ray was one of MCV’s first bronchoscopists. He was known across Virginia for his use of the Jackson rigid bronchoscope to examine patients’ airways for foreign objects, bleeding or inflammation. Over the years, Ray assembled an unusual collection of objects retrieved from patients’ airways, including a peach pit and a compass, coins from the late 1940s, buttons and even a belt buckle.
The use of the rigid bronchoscope which Ray pioneered at MCV fell out of favor for the most part in the 1960s when the flexible fiberoptic bronchoscope was introduced into clinical medicine.
“What is old is new again,” says Fowler. “Dr. Ed Ray was one of the first physicians in Virginia to use the rigid endoscope. However, today, decades later, the rigid bronchoscope is being used once again. Pulmonologists at MCV employ rigid bronchoscopy, performing at least two or three procedures each week.” Importantly, if Ray were practicing today, he’d be referred to as an interventional pulmonologist, based upon the tools he used and the techniques he pioneered at MCV.
During a tour of the MCV Campus, the Class of 1976’s Gaylord Ray and Wes Shepherd, M.D., H’03, director of interventional pulmonology, look through the collection of objects Ray’s father had retrieved from patients’ airways during his tenure as the founding chair of the Division of Pulmonary Disease.
Ray’s contributions were recently remembered when his son, Gaylord Ray, of the School of Medicine’s Class of 1976, returned to the MCV Campus. He met with Fowler and other Pulmonary Division faculty when he toured the division facilities, the operating room, the Medical Respiratory Intensive Care Unit and the simulation center where medical students and pulmonary trainees gain procedural experience. He says he was impressed with what he saw of the strides the division has made under Fowler’s direction. “The department is in good hands, and my father would be quite proud to see the training, but, in particular, the quality of the division.”
He learned from the director of interventional pulmonology, Ray “Wes” Shepherd, M.D., H’03, that the division’s interventional pulmonology program marked a milestone when it accepted its first fellow in July 2011. There are only 12 interventional pulmonology fellowship programs in the United States, each taking just one fellow per year. And, just this past year, the Interventional Pulmonology Service reached another milestone, performing over 1,000 interventional procedures.
Over lunch, Gaylord Ray shared stories about his father with division faculty members and with his son Chris, who was also on hand. Chris followed in his family’s footsteps onto the MCV Campus and is now president of the medical school’s Class of 2015. “It was important to me to have my son Chris attend the lunch. I see many of my father’s qualities coming out in him, particularly the compassion and thoughtfulness.”
Gaylord W. Ray, M’76, H’79, with his son Christopher C. Ray, president of the medical school’s Class of 2015. They are holding the 1897 diploma awarded to Gaylord’s grandfather, A. Chambers Ray, by the University College of Medicine, a predecessor to MCV. Gaylord Ray’s late father, Ed Ray, is also connected to the medical school: he completed his housestaff training in 1944 and went on to be named the founding chair of the Division of Pulmonary Disease.
Now retired from his practice as an emergency medicine physician, Gaylord Ray has chosen to honor his father’s contributions by establishing an endowed fund that will benefit the Interventional Pulmonology Service. Fowler hopes former trainees of Ed Ray may increase the fund through their own gifts honoring the influence he had on their careers.
“The Interventional Pulmonology Service greatly appreciates Dr. Ray’s desire to honor the legacy of his father,” said Shepherd. “I hope that the attributes that Dr. Ray admired in his father live on today in our interventional pulmonology program.”
Shepherd also appreciated hearing Ray’s stories from the 1950s and 60s. “I have already told several of my rigid bronchoscopy partners about Dr. Gaylord Ray’s childhood experience assisting our first pulmonary chair!”