Ralph Randal Bollinger, MD

2016 Master Surgeon

Ralph Randal “Randy” Bollinger, MD, was born in Dearborn, Mich., on October 3, 1944. He graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a Bachelor of Science in biology. During college, he spent a year in the department of biology at Universität Tübingen, in Tübingen, Baden-Württemburg, Germany, where he performed research in the laboratory of Professor Karl Grell. Dr. Bollinger then went to Tulane Medical School in 1966, where he was was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha honor society and earned a Master of Science in biochemistry. His interests in immunology and organ transplantation were nurtured by Dr. John C. McDonald, the surgical director of transplantation at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

Recognizing Dr. Bollinger’s immense potential, Dr. David Sabiston, Jr., Chair of Surgery at Duke University, hired him as a categorical general surgery resident in 1970. His residency was interrupted by two years of service to his country in the United States Air Force, after which he returned to Duke to complete the General Surgery Residency Training Program. Despite the rigorous clinical training, Dr. Bollinger was able to complete the requirements for Doctor of Philosophy in Immunology in the laboratory of Drs. D. Bernard Amos and David W. Scott. He was appointed to the surgery faculty in 1980 and was appointed Chief of Transplantation in 1983.

Dr. Bollinger spent his entire professional career at Duke. A superb, patient, and detail-oriented technical surgeon, he became known as much for his character and compassion as his surgical expertise and research accomplishments. His ability to maintain a pleasant and calm demeanor during challenging operations and despite long sleepless nights was renowned. He was instrumental in the development of liver and pancreas transplantation, participating in the first liver transplant at Duke, and pioneering the technical, immunological and logistical complexities of these burgeoning operations. He developed a national reputation in transplantation, serving as councilor of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, president of the South-Eastern Organ Procurement Foundation (the nation’s first organ procurement body), and ultimately president of the United Network for Organ Sharing. As a researcher, Dr. Bollinger directed a transplant immunology laboratory in which he mentored numerous future transplant thought leaders. Dr. Bollinger won virtually every teaching award offered by Duke Medical School, including the Golden Apple (1984 and 1989), Distinguished Teacher Award (1989), and the David C. Sabiston, Jr. Teaching Award (1987). He authored over 150 peer-reviewed publications in highimpact journals. Always giving of himself, Dr. Bollinger served as Chief of the Division of General Surgery, and on the university’s Academic Council. Inexhaustibly energetic, he earned a Master of Business Administration from the Fuqua School of Business and maintained a robust clinical practice in the surgical management of inflammatory bowel disease. Dr. Bollinger reached the ranks of Professor of Surgery and Professor of Immunology.

By virtue of his exceptional contributions to Duke Surgery, Dr. Ralph Randal “Randy” Bollinger is recognized as a true Master Surgeon. This honor is bestowed to establish a living memory of an individual who has embodied the ideals of Duke Surgery, with the expectation that reflection on this illustrious career will serve as a guidepost for those aspiring to a life in the art and science of surgery.