Skillful in the operating room and masterful in the classroom, Gershon Efron was an award-winning teacher of several generations of surgical residents both at Johns Hopkins and Sinai Hospital, where he was chief of surgery from 1977 to 1998.
Efron, who died on June 8 of respiratory failure at the age of 91, also inspired his three sons to become surgeons.
Jonathan Efron (faculty, 2009–present) is senior vice president of the Office of Johns Hopkins Physicians and head of colorectal surgery. David Efron (HS, 1994–2003; faculty, 2005–present) was until recently director of trauma and chief of acute care surgery in Johns Hopkins’ Department of Surgery. Philip Efron is medical director of the University of Florida’s Health Shands Hospital’s surgical ICUs and respiratory therapy, and co-directs the medical school’s laboratory of inflammation biology and surgical science.
Gershon Efron was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where his father was the only Orthodox Jewish rabbi. He earned his medical degree at the University of Cape Town, receiving the university’s gold medal in zoology and also working in the laboratory of Christiaan Barnard, who later performed the world’s first successful human heart transplant.
Following a fellowship at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, Efron moved to New York in 1965 to become a professor of surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as well as chief of surgery at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. He was then recruited to become head of surgery at Sinai, which had a long, close association with Johns Hopkins.
In 1990, Efron collaborated with John Cameron ’62, then director of Johns Hopkins’ Department of Surgery, to integrate the two hospitals’ surgical training programs. For the next 15 years, Johns Hopkins residents, medical students and other health profession students rotated regularly within Sinai’s surgery department.