ALLAN DANA CALLOW, M.D., Ph.D.
1916 – 2015
Dr. Allan D. Callow passed away peacefully in San Francisco, Ca. at 99-four months short of his 100th birthday. Allan served his specialty of vascular surgery, his university-Tufts, and his country in an exceptional manner-emblematic of "the greatest generation". Over his 90+ year career he transitioned from a talented pioneer in the treatment of cerebrovascular disease to an internationally-recognized vascular biologist, who was still productive into his 90s. Allan was born in Somerville, Mass. on April 9, 1916 and graduated from nearby Tufts College, where he was a member of the track team and elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Alan met his future wife, Eleanor Magee at Tufts, where both were active in the theater at Tufts. They were married in 1942 and for 45 years, until Eleanor passed away. An artist she had taught for many years in the Weston Schools and the high school arts award is named after her. They have three children, Beverly Ann, Susan, and Dana as well as five grandchildren. After receiving his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1942, Allan interned the next year on the Harvard Surgical Service at Boston City Hospital 1942-1943. Influenced by his family's generations in maritime activities, he joined the Navy as a medical officer and served in the Pacific theatre, where he participated in seven "storm" landings on islands, such as Iwo Jima and Tarawa. He would later recount his experiences in his book, The Man on the Ground: who really wins our wars? which he authored in his 90s. Allan vividly describes the fierce battles by our Marines securing these vital islands, which are portrayed visually in the current HBO series, The Pacific. His battle surgeon experience with vascular trauma and his frustration about the lack of solutions for arterial injures at that time, which eventuated in amputation, would influence him to devote his career to the field of vascular disease. As he said in his address at the Allan D. Callow Young Investigators Award in 2014, he learned another life-shaping lesson in the jungles of the Pacific "being shot at—teaches you: 1) to discard the trivial, and 2) that you can remain effective even when scared stiff" -good advice for young vascular surgeons. After the war Allan continued on in the Naval Reserve for over three decades and for his dedication and contributions he was promoted to Rear Admiral and awarded the Legion of Merit.
Following the war Allan completed his surgical residency at New England Medical Center, Boston (now Tufts Medical Center), from 1947-1951 and as a special fellow in vascular diseases at the Mayo Clinic. He carried out early research on arterial anastomoses in canine models and was recruited by the first full-time Chair of Surgery, C. Stewart Welch, to join the young staff at the New England Medical Center. Allan would spend the next forty years at Tufts. As the first Chief of Vascular Surgery, Allan recognized the need for special post-graduate training in vascular disease and initiated one of the early vascular fellowships. Fellows remember fondly the lessons that Allan taught them beyond technique. David Rosenthal of Atlanta recounted "When we talked about surgery with our patients and their families, Dr. Callow would always sit on edge of bed and hold hands with the ladies, and place his hand on man's shoulder. I believe he did this genuinely and with great compassion and I did it with all my patients." Bill Mackey, the current Chair of Surgery at Tufts Medical Center, stated- "What made Allan Callow a great surgeon was his attention to detail. Every stitch had to be placed perfectly, and every patient, every patient's family members, and every referring physician were treated, as if they were members of his family. He was unfailingly precise, kind, and considerate."
Allan's major clinical focus was the treatment of carotid disease. His 1975 paper (Surgery. 1975;78:787-94) on selective shunting based on continuous EEG monitoring popularized this method to prevent cerebral ischemia during carotid endarterectomy. In 1989 he summarized his personal series of 619 patients undergoing 993 carotid endarterectomies, since 1970 in the paper, Long-term follow-up of surgically managed carotid bifurcation atherosclerosis: Justification for an aggressive approach (Ann Surg. 1989;210:308-15). Overall the crude annual stroke rate following carotid endarterectomy was 1.9% with a 2.2% perioperative stroke rate, while in asymptomatic patients both the crude annual stroke incidence of 1.4% and the perioperative stroke rate of 1.1% were low. The results from this personal case series were superior to non-operative therapy for asymptomatic patients with hemodynamically significant stenosis, which pre-dated the results from the ACAS trial. As secretary of the North American Chapter of the International Cardiovascular Society, Allan spent two months visiting various vascular centers around the world and was elected its' president in 1975 Two years later Allan was elected the fifth president of the New England Society for Vascular surgery. Touching all the bases of the vascular societies Allan assumed the presidency of the Society for Vascular Surgery and with Cal Ernst founded the Lifeline 501C3 Charitable Foundation, in Allan's words "to provide young investigators sufficient funding and length of funding".
While a busy clinician, Allan served on the Board of Trustees of Tufts University from 1971 to 1986 and its Chairman in the last several years. He was a member of the selection committee that was responsible for recruiting Jean Mayer to the presidency. Working with President Mayer they "shook up the place" and built Tufts into an internationally-recognized university.
Allan entered the next phase of his career-basic research in arterial wall biology, when in 1982 at the age of 66 he secured an NIH R01grant "Endothelial cell seeding of small vessel prostheses". The funded research provided a full year of laboratory research for our vascular fellows, which resulted in a series of papers on factors governing "arterial healing" in prosthetic grafts, using a primate model. The fellows learned to operate expeditiously, particularly on the carotids of the lightly anesthetized baboons. Because of his interest in vascular wall biology, Allan attended the American Heart Association meeting in Miami, where he met Una Ryan Ph.D., OBE, at that time a noted cell biologist at the Medical School in Miami. Allan and Una married in 1989 and in 1990 they moved to St. Louis to work together, where Allan became Professor of Surgery in the vascular division, and Una, the Research Professor of Surgery, Medicine and Cell Biology, both at the Washington University School of Medicine. An example of the productive work from this laboratory won the Resident Research Award from the ICVS, and demonstrated the important role of the v3 integrin in SMC migration in vitro and in neointimal hyperplasia in vivo. (J VASC SURG 1994;19:125-34).
Allan returned to Boston in 1995 as Research professor in surgery Boston University Medical Center, when Una joined AVANT Immunotherapeutics Inc. as a Vice President and Chief Scientific Researcher and would become President at AVANT and began serving as CEO and President of Celldex Therapeutics. In 2013 they moved to San Francisco, where Allan passed away and is survived by his wife of 26 years, Una, and his San Francisco family-Tamsin, Amy Derek, Scully, Tabitha, Audrey, and Henry as well as his Boston family-Dana, Beverly Ann, and Susan; five grandchildren: Allan Dana III, Bradford, and Elizabeth Magee (Dana) and Shannon Eleanor and Stephanie Dianne (Susan).
THOMAS F. O'DONNELL, JR., M.D.