Back to Timeline

The Lapides Era (1968–1983)

A New Era Brings Innovation and Change
Novel methods emerge in the management of urological conditions

Jack Lapides, MD

  • Chief, Section of Urology (1968–1983)

In 1968, Jack Lapides, MD, a native of Rochester, New York, became chief of the Section of Urology, a position he held until 1983. Trained by former chair Reed Nesbit, MD, Lapides proved to be one of the most influential figures in urology in the century. His contributions to basic and clinical research led to seminal changes in the treatment of many urological conditions, including the development of clean intermittent self-catheterization in the management of neurogenic bladder, an approach that ran counter to established medical practice at the time but proved to be one of the most important offerings to the field.

A prominent force in academic research and scholarship, Lapides is the author of 198 scientific papers and two textbooks on urology, including the Fundamentals of Urology published in 1976. He is also the author of 28 chapters in textbooks. Lapides’ contribution of clean intermittent self-catheterization was listed by the Journal of Urology as one of the 100 major urologic contributions of the 20th century.

I am very glad and proud to say that not only did I witness many firsts in the practice of urology, but I was also able to participate in many firsts, including the introduction of the intermittent catheterization program which was the brainchild of Jack Lapides. If Jack had not died, he probably would have received the Nobel Prize for that.

Ananias Diokno, MD

During his tenure, he received numerous honors and awards, including the prestigious Ramon Guiteras Award in 1987, and the Pediatric Urology Medal in 1989. Lapides also participated actively in national and international urologic societies.

He was a Rockefeller Research Associate in the U-M Department of Physiology from 1936-38 and completed his surgical and urologic training at the U-M, interrupted by military service as a flight surgeon in the Pacific Theater from 1941-46.

In 1983, under Lapides’ guidance, Carol Bennett, MD, an African American woman, completed her residency at U-M, making her the first female urologist trained at the Medical School. Bennett went on to help a patient achieve the first pregnancy in the United States from a paraplegic man with a semen sample produced by electroejaculation.

The Department of Urology has become one of the finest programs in the country. It has influenced standard of care and residency training for others across the country.

Carol Bennett, MD

In 1984, following a longstanding career as a surgeon, educator and researcher, Lapides retired from active faculty status. The U-M Regents honored him with the distinction of professor emeritus of surgery.

Also happening in the world in 1968

  • Lyndon Johnson was the 36th president of the United States.
  • Apollo 8, the second manned spaceflight mission flown in the United States, was launched for manned lunar orbit.
  • Civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., and U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated just two months apart.
  • Modern medicine saw advancements in cancer detection, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Also happening at Michigan Medicine

  • 1968: U-M physicians performed the first heart transplant in Michigan at University Hospital.
  • 1969: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital opens as U-M’s first separate children’s hospital.
  • 1972: U-M builds the James and Lynelle Perinatal Holden Hospital to care for premature and critically ill infants.
  • 1976: U-M establishes the W.K. Kellogg Eye Center, a 32-bed facility that provides patient care, education and research in eye diseases.