Humanitarian Giant in Gyn Ob

Wheeless taught surgeons around the world.


Clifford Roberts “Bob” Wheeless Jr., a leader in the field of gynecology and obstetrics, author, and humanitarian, died on July 10, 2023.

Wheeless was instrumental in developing laparoscopy as a technique for gynecologic diagnosis and surgical sterilization, pushing the boundaries of medical advancements. His impact is widely recognized through his authorship of the acclaimed Atlas of Pelvic Surgery, which remains a valuable resource in the field. Additionally, he authored numerous textbook chapters and published over 60 peer-reviewed articles. As a devoted educator, he taught pelvic and gynecologic surgery to surgeons all over the world.

“He exemplified the values of discipline and determination, transcending humble beginnings to become a world-renowned leader in his field,” says Andrew Satin, director of the Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

During his tenure at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Wheeless played a pivotal role in the Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (now known as Jhpiego).

Beyond Johns Hopkins, he served as director of gynecology and obstetrics at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA and Emory University in Atlanta.

Wheeless’ focus on making a meaningful impact led him to serve as the medical director for the nonprofit International Organization for the Development of Women. For several years, he repaired obstetric fistulas throughout Africa and Asia, improving the lives of countless women.