Pioneered Use of Intraveneous Feeding Technology

A medical science pioneer, Stanley Dudrick was innovative in the development of intravenous hyperalimentation, the technique of feeding a person intravenously—through their blood stream— that bypasses the normal process of eating and digestion. His work at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1960s revolutionized post-operative patient care, earning him accolades and worldwide recognition for his accomplishment and research. Dr. Dudrick passed away in January 2020.

The Journal of the American Medical Association characterized his efforts as “one of the four most significant accomplishments in the history of modern surgery.” The others were: discovery and development of asepsis and antisepsis, antibiotic therapy, and anesthesia.

Dudrick’s intravenous feeding system, known as Total Parenteral Nutrition, also has been recognized as one of the three most important advances in surgery, along with open-heart operations and organ transplantation. In receiving the Jacobson Innovation Award from the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Dudrick was cited as a “major contributor to science, medicine and education for the initial research and ongoing contributions to the field of nutritional support for surgical patients.”

Born in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, on April 9, 1935, Dudrick received his bachelor of science in biology with honors in 1957 from Franklin & Marshall College. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa honor fraternity and was awarded the Williamson Medal as the outstanding member of his graduating class.

His medical degree was conferred by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1961, followed by a rotating internship and residency training in general surgery at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where he served as chief resident in surgery under Dr. Jonathan Rhoads until 1967. After his training, he joined the faculty at Penn and within five years ascended in rank from instructor to professor of surgery at his alma mater.

In the ensuing years, Dudrick would serve hospitals and universities around the country, including the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, where in 1972 he was first professor and, later, founding chairman of the Department of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, and chair of the department of surgery at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut.

When asked by an F&M writer a few years ago about the motivation behind his innovative work with intravenous feeding, Dudrick spoke simply, but eloquently. “I wanted to make my patients better,” he said.

  • Stanley Dudrick '57 Stanley Dudrick '57 Image Credit: Office of Communications

Learn more about Stanley:

Celebrating a Medical Pioneer (F&M Magazine feature)

Icons in Surgery: Stanley J. Dudrick (YouTube video, 31 minutes)