J. Regan Thomas (KNFP 7), Chair of the Otolaryngology Department, University of Illinois-Chicago.
This article originally appeared in the January 2009 issue of the KFLA Newsletter.
Dr. Regan Thomas is one of the country’s foremost specialists in the area of cosmetic and reconstructive surgical procedures of the face, head, and neck. As the endowed chair of the University of Illinois’s Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, he is pursuing his passion of medical education and training young physicians in both national and international settings.
Selected in 2008 by his peers as among the 50 Best Doctors in America, Regan’s distinguished career has led him to serve in numerous leadership positions in his field. Among the professional organizations he has presided over are the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Academy of Otolaryngology. He is also an officer of IMPAC, the Illinois State Medical Society Political Action Committee, playing a role in the legislative process in support of the medical profession.
”A lot of the skills that we began to appreciate and hone in our Kellogg Fellowships have been useful to me,” he says, reflecting on his call to lead.
Regan also credits his Kellogg Fellowship for his pursuit of international teaching opportunities. He has been to countries on every continent to perform surgery and to share knowledge with other physicians.
”My colleagues often ask me how I can take so much time away from my day-to-day activities,” he says. ”I feel that with my international work I’m making a broader impact, and am gaining many new friends.”
The feedback Regan gets from individuals across the globe who have learned from him and are able to improve patients’ outcomes is largely what drives him in his professional pursuits.
”When people write and tell me that they’re using the techniques I showed them for facial reconstruction in India or Mexico, that’s a real measure of success,” he says.
Twelve years ago, Regan and his wife established a recognition award, the Davalos International Teaching Fund. Named for its first recipient, Dr. Efrain Davalos, of Morelia, Mexico, the award is given every four years to a non-American teacher in this specialty who is making a great impact worldwide. Regan first met Dr. Davalos on a trip to Mexico during his Kellogg Fellowship and he became a mentor to Regan while he was a young physician.
Regan has also just launched the Now Hear This Foundation to raise funds to help in the research of and treatment for hearing loss. Actress Marlee Matlin is co-chair of the foundation’s board.
Summing up his approach for making a difference, Regan says, ”The Kellogg Fellowship helped reinforce in us the need and desire to go beyond our own specific activities and branch out. I’m very proud to be able to make a difference in what I think of as Kellogg’s philosophical approach, to use one’s own skills to help affect change in the community.”