Department History

Aerial view of Marquam Hill

When the University of Oregon opened their medical school in Portland in 1887, Dr. William H. Saylor was appointed Professor of Diseases of the Genito-Urinary Organs. This was the first step in the evolution of what is now the Department of Urology. Doctor Saylor was an accomplished physician and had previously assisted in the organization of the Oregon State Medical Society. In 1879, he was appointed Corresponding Secretary; in 1883, its President, and in 1887 he began a five-year term on the Board of Censors.  From 1882-1883 he was Professor of Anatomy at Willamette University. In recognition of his abilities, he was appointed by Governor Moody Brigade to be Surgeon of the State Militia. Dr. Saylor was the medical director of the Oregon Department of the Grand Army of the Republic for two years and, in 1887, began as the Grand Medical Director of the Ancient Order of United Workmen for the jurisdiction of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

Dr. A.E. Mackay

In 1905, Dr. A.E. Mackay succeeded Dr. William H. Saylor and became known as the "Dean of Urologists" in the Pacific Northwest. Dr. A.E. Mackay arrived in Portland in 1889 when he was 26 years old, with more medical training than many in the Portland community had ever seen.  He obtained his early training and experience with Canadian instructors and through work on transcontinental ships. When he settled in Portland, he brought with him a novel tool- the first oil-immersion objective microscope in the Pacific Northwest. When invited to join the University of Oregon Medical School, he furthered the urologic capabilities of the medical school by introducing cystoscopes and establishing the first bacteriology laboratory.  In 1930, with Dr. Mackay at the helm, the Department of Urology was officially named, and in 1932, was absorbed as part of the Division of Surgery.

In 1937 Dr. J. Guy Strohn, a "cigar-chomping" soldier who climbed the Army ranks to Colonel, became the Chief of Urology. He obtained early practical experience as an intern in the Cook County Hospital in Chicago and after one year there, he relocated to Portland. In 1911, he was elected Secretary of the City and County Medical Society. He was commissioned to the Medical Reserve Corps by President Wilson as a lieutenant in 1916. On active duty, his job was to recruit men in the medical profession for the army. He organized the first volunteer army unit in Portland and served in both World Wars. During World War I, he served with distinction as Division Surgeon with Oregon's 91st Division, and he was the youngest Division Surgeon in the American Expeditionary Force. Upon his return to Portland, Dr. Strohm was elected President of the Medical Society in 1922, and President of the University Club in 1924. He did extensive charity work. He was decorated for overseas service by King Albert of Belgium, and he received the Croix de Guerre , a French Medal of Honor. In 1928, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor by a special act of Congress passed May 26, 1928.  During WWII he was the commander of the 46th General Hospital Unit , the volunteer unit for the University of Oregon Medical School, which served in both Africa and Europe.

Advanced clinical training in Urology began in 1937, when the first clinical fellow in Urology was appointed. The Urology Residency program as we know it today, however, was initiated in 1948 under the direction of Dr. Clarence Hodges, who was appointed the first full time chief of Urology. During medical school at the University of Chicago, he worked with Noble Laureate Charles Higgins on the treatment of prostate cancer with androgen deprivation therapy. Following schooling, he served as a flight surgeon in the US Army Air Corps during WWII and received the Air Medal for his service. After leaving the airforce, Dr. Hodges pursued extensive specialty training in urology at the University of Chicago, Ancker Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. During his thirty-one years practicing in Oregon, Dr. Hodges trained sixty-three urologists and expanded the Division of Urology’s scope to include treatments in urologic cancer, kidney transplantation and pediatric urology. In 1959, he and two other physicians, J.E. Dunphy and Joseph E. Murray (who would win the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1990), performed the first successful kidney transplant west of the Rocky Mountains at University Hospital in Portland. Hodges continued his research in prostate cancer and was awarded the Eugene Fuller Award in 1977 for this work. In 1981, he was elected into membership of the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. Two years later, he received the Barringer Medal from the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons. Dr. Hodges served as President for several urologic groups, including the Western Urologic Forum (1962), the Western Section of the American Urological Association (1974), the Clinical Society of Genitourinary Surgeons (1978-1979), and the Society of University Urologists (1979-1980). He also served as a Trustee on the American Board of Urology.

Dr. John Barry and the OHSU provider staff pose for a team photo

Dr. John Barry succeeded Dr. Hodges as chief of urology in 1979. He had come from Minnesota by way of New York and Okinawa where he had served as a medical officer in a combat support group in the U.S. Air Force for 3 years. After completion of his urology residency here, he became Chief of the Urology Section at the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center, and in 1976, succeeded Dr. Russell Lawson as director of the kidney transplant program at what is now OHSU.  He assisted in the development of the heart, pancreas and liver transplant programs, and he and two other surgeons performed the first pancreas transplant in Oregon in 1987. Dr. Barry helped set up the kidney transplant program at the King Faisal Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and, in June of 1981, he led the team that performed the first renal transplant at that hospital. Of note, one of Dr. Barry's most interesting cases during his long and successful career was a kidney transplant he performed on Khayam, a ten year old cheetah, who lived at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon.  During his 29 years as chief of urology, the subspecialty services within urology were developed along with many innovative surgical techniques.  Dr. Barry has been president of many urologic associations and societies. Notably, in 2008 Dr. Barry was honored to be elected the president of the American Urological Association.

Dr. Michael Conlin, endourologist and minimally invasive urologic surgeon, became interim chief of the Division of Urology in 2008 when Dr. Barry became the president of the American Urological Association. Then in 2009, Dr. Christopher Amling, urologic oncologist and an American Urological Association Gold Cystoscope Award Recipient, was recruited to become the Chief of Urology and serve on the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute leadership team. Dr. Amling, a native Oregonian and graduate of the University of Oregon and Oregon Health and Science University Medical Schools, brought with him robotic surgical expertise and years of leadership experience that he had gained in his service of the US Navy and at the University of Alabama where he had functioned as Chief of Urology. He transformed the Division of Urology into a Department of Urology in 2012. In 2013, Dr. Amling became the first John M. Barry Endowed Chair of Urology.