- Published Date:
Dear Howard University Community,
I am devastated to report that my colleague and dear friend, Dr. Lori Wilson, associate dean for faculty development and diversity, professor of surgery, and chief of surgical oncology at Howard University School of Medicine, has passed away this morning.
Dr. Wilson was a remarkable person. She was an innovator and trailblazer. She was an advocate and a servant-leader. And, for many years, she was a breast cancer survivor.
Not only was Dr. Wilson one of the most talented cancer surgeons I have ever encountered, she was the first woman to hold the surgical oncology division chief position at Howard University Hospital (HUH) and the first woman to be promoted to full professor in surgery at Howard University College of Medicine. She was also a cancer patient, having battled with breast cancer herself. I believe it was this personal experience with breast cancer that made her such a tremendous doctor and resource for women at Howard and in the Washington, D.C. community.
I first met Dr. Lori Lynn Wilson at orientation for our residency program. She was a two-time Georgetown University graduate who was born in Germany on a military base and called Portsmouth, Virginia home. She was very intelligent about a wide variety of topics and extremely contemporary. These characteristics would later be critical to her successful tenure as the program director. Through her involvement with the Howard University Cancer Center, Dr. Wilson participated in hundreds of community conversations. She would travel to church basements, senior centers, and local health fairs to talk to women about the risks of breast cancer and the critical importance of cancer screenings. Through her kindness and her knowledge, she was able to help countless women access preventive care and take the measures necessary to ensure their health and wellbeing.
Today, Howard University has endured a major and irreplaceable loss. There are few individuals who rival the service Dr. Wilson has rendered on behalf of the people in our community.
However, we are well positioned to withstand this loss because of the legacy of service Dr. Wilson has left behind. Due to her efforts, Howard is able to provide tremendous resources to patients in our community to prevent and treat breast cancer. Thanks to Dr. Wilson’s willingness to mentor and teach and advise, there are numerous medical students and surgeons today who are capable of carrying forward her work. We have set up a mammography program at Benning Road in Southeast D.C. We will rename that program in honor of Dr. Lori L. Wilson.
Undoubtedly, many in our community, myself included, are saddened by this devastating news. But by treating our patients with great care and by amplifying the humanity of all those we come into contact with, we will be upholding the memory and legacy of Dr. Wilson, a true daughter of Howard University. I find immense joy in having known her! I hope you all will too.
On behalf of our entire community, I am sending thoughts and prayers to Dr. Wilson’s family. May her memory bring them comfort during this difficult time.
Excellence in Truth and Service,
Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA
Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery