Texas-born Frederick Allison Davis, MD, the Department’s first professor and Chair, originally graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1909. He then completed his residency at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and his postdoctoral training at Harvard, Pennsylvania and in London and Vienna. He led the Department until 1954. In the early years of his tenure, the EENT/Plastics service offered two-year residencies. When the Plastic Surgery program separated and joined the Department of Surgery in 1935, the EENT service extended the residency to three years.
During those 29 years as Chair, he also developed a busy clinical practice (Davis, Neff and Duehr), published scientific articles (including his timeless paper on direct ophthalmoscopy), established Ophthalmic Pathology as part of the service, trained his successor and partner Peter A. Duehr (1932), married Edith Swenson, and fathered two daughters and two ophthalmologist sons, Frederick J. (Jeff) and Matthew D. (Dinny) Davis.
Dr. Duehr once marveled at Dr. Davis’s leadership by stating, “…he did some fine research (mainly concerning hereditary eye diseases and improved techniques of cataract surgery) while practicing and teaching. I don’t know how he found time to do it, particularly without benefit of funding and with the help of only a part-time technician.”