Distinguished Former Professor in Surgery and Pediatrics Receives Lifetime Award

Arnold Leonard, MD, PhD, a retired professor with the Departments of Surgery and Pediatrics, will receive the Gold-Headed Cane Award for his lifelong contributions to children’s health. Leonard has deep ties to the University of Minnesota Medical School and has been at the forefront of his field for surgical procedures, research and innovation.

He graduated from the Medical School in 1955 and received his PhD in 1963. Leonard worked in the operating room during the world’s first successful open-heart surgery, and after completion of his residency in general surgery, he was specifically chosen by his mentor Owen Wangensteen, MD, PhD, to seek specialty training in pediatric surgery.

Over multiple decades, Leonard’s contributions to medicine have been numerous and significant. He conducted the first thoracoscopic surgical procedure at the Medical School and led the way for the development of advanced laparoscopic and thoracoscopic techniques.

Leonard worked closely with the Division of Pediatric Oncology at the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics and the Children’s Oncology Group to understand the role of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in the treatment of metastatic Wilm’s tumor, thus contributing to thousands of lives saved throughout the world. He also implemented a novel method to correct chest deformities; Pectus Excavatum and Pectus Carinatum. Leonard has performed over 1,500 of such repairs and is considered to be one of the world’s experts. In addition, surgical protocols that he developed concerning the treatment of children with cystic fibrosis are now employed nationwide.

The Arnold S. Leonard Cancer Research Fund has given nearly $1.5M to the University of Minnesota to advance research and educational activities in microbial-based cancer therapy.

Leonard has given over 60 national and international talks and authored more than 260 peer-reviewed publications. He has remained active in the medical community and continues to raise funds for the Saltzman lab at the University of Minnesota while attending weekly lab meetings with doctors, scientists and volunteers who work on cutting-edge cancer research. He even still teaches class in four different subjects and is involved in a number of philanthropic organizations.

The Gold-Headed Cane Award is recognized as a symbol of excellence among physicians. Leonard will receive the award at the annual Department of Pediatrics Legacy Luncheon. The event will take place at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10 in the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital Wilf Family Auditorium.

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