William W. Shingleton, MD

2016 Master Surgeon

William W. Shingleton, MD, was born in Stantonsburg, North Carolina, in 1917. He attended the University of North Carolina for three years and finished his final year of undergraduate work at Atlantic Christian College in Wilson, North Carolina, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1939. He received his medical degree (AOA) in 1943 from the Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University. He completed his postgraduate general surgery training at Duke University Medical Center in 1950, with two intervening years serving on active duty in the United States Army. He then joined the Duke faculty and quickly rose to the position of Chief of General Surgery, which he held until 1982.

During his time at Duke, Dr. Shingleton became recognized as a uniformly superb and admired surgeon. Technically, he was a master in the field of oncology, demonstrating unique insight into the conduct of complex cancer resections. He was also legendary for his compassion, warmth, and rapport with patients and colleagues alike. As one of the signers of the 1971 National Cancer Act, legislation passed by Congress that appropriated federal funds to build dedicated cancer centers nationwide, Dr. Shingleton was instrumental in developing surgical oncology into a recognized specialty at Duke and nationally. This act paved the way for the development of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Duke University, creating a mechanism for the inaugural grant from the National Cancer Institute that established the Duke Cancer Center as one of the original 12 cancer centers in the United States. Under his leadership, the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center quadrupled in size and was rated #1 by the National Cancer Advisory Board, placing it above the Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dana Farber (then Sydney), Mayo Clinic, and Yale University cancer centers.

Academically, Dr. Shingleton served on the board of numerous professional surgical societies and was recognized by the American Surgical Association and the Southern Surgical Association with the Arthur Shipley Award. He was a founding member of the Society of Surgical Oncology. He was named to the National Cancer Advisory Board twice, by Presidents Nixon and Ford. Dr. Shingleton’s expertise was recognized nationally and he became the Director of the American Cancer Society. He authored more than 85 peer-reviewed publications in high-impact journals and was recognized by the university and nationally, as a true academic leader and surgeon in the field of oncology. In 1987, the William W. Shingleton Cancer Research Professorship was created to support new cancer research initiatives. Dr. Shingleton obtained matching funds for the construction of the Morris Building, which served as the clinical structure for patients with malignant disorders. Dr. Shingleton rose to the rank of Professor of Surgery.

By virtue of his exceptional contributions to Duke Surgery, Dr. William W. Shingleton is recognized as a true Master Surgeon. This honor is bestowed to establish a living memory of an individual who has exemplified 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.