Throughout his esteemed career in neuroradiology, Franz J. “Jay” Wippold II, MD, who retired in 2017 and is now professor emeritus of radiology at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR), has held the role of mentor in highest regard.
“I was raised with the notion that we are here as stewards,” he says. “We are all given certain gifts and talents, and we are expected to use them not just for ourselves, but for others.”
As reflected by his multiple teaching awards, his Washington University School of Medicine Distinguished Clinician Award and the deep respect of his colleagues, Wippold generously shared his talents and nurtured those of students and faculty during his three-plus decades at MIR, and particularly during his 17 years as chief of the neuroradiology section.
“As chief, Dr. Wippold worked tirelessly to create a world-class academic section with state-of-the-art imaging facilities, outstanding neuroradiologists to deliver the highest quality care to patients, and talented academic neuroradiologists to advance the field,” says Katie D. Vo, MD, professor of radiology, who succeeded Wippold as section chief. “I feel very fortunate to have inherited the section from Dr. Wippold.”
Above: While assigned to Walter Reed, Wippold reviews scans during a field deployment to investigate a U.S. Army airplane crash.
The Early Years
Wippold is quick to give credit to the mentors in his own life who encouraged his passion for medicine and guided his career path, starting when he was in grade school in South St. Louis County. “Relatives would give me preserved frogs and dissecting kits,” he remembers. Family friends who were physicians invited him to shadow them in their practices. And when neurology piqued his interest at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, the chairman of the neurology department took him under his wing. Shortly after Wippold arrived at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on an Armed Services Health Professions Scholarship, CT scans were introduced to clinical practice. It changed the trajectory of his career from clinical neurology to neuroradiology.
“Here was this brand-new technique that was amazing,” Wippold remembers. “The puzzle of clinical neurology, of trying to solve where a lesion is, was miraculously revealed with this CAT scan device. After much soul searching, I decided to switch from neurology to neuroradiology for my residency.
“There were only one or two neuroradiologists in the entire U.S. Army at the time, so I received carte blanche to pursue it.”
That pursuit led him to a fellowship in neuroradiology at MIR, where Mokhtar H. Gado, MD, and Fred J. “Ted” Hodges III, MD, served as his role models. “I respected them so much, not just for their mental accomplishments and academic prowess,” Wippold says, “but also their humanity, their understanding of human nature and the ethos of taking care of patients.” He felt honored to become their colleague when he joined MIR’s full-time faculty in 1989.
In 2000, he followed in the footsteps of his mentors Gado and Hodges when he was appointed section chief. Among the many milestones during his tenure, Wippold forged a lasting partnership with his colleagues in neurology and neurosurgery during their joint efforts to develop the first accredited endovascular neuroradiology program in the U.S. In concert with his work on the American Society of Neuroradiology’s education committee, Wippold instituted an ambitious neuroradiology training curriculum at MIR.
“I tried to instill in the residents not just what to think, but how to think,” he says. “How to look at patterns, establish differential diagnoses and approach findings.”
Through his involvement in the Center for Bioethics and Culture of Missouri — for which he served a term as president — Wippold expanded his role of teacher and mentor into areas beyond what was on the film. “Dr. Wippold made a tremendous effort to remind the institutions — both MIR and the Washington University School of Medicine — of their ethical responsibilities by speaking and inviting others to speak about significant moral issues of the day and of our lives,” says Christopher J. Moran, MD, professor of radiology and of neurological surgery. “Through his moral courage, he reminded all of us of our oaths to care for people.”
And as he staffed up the neuroradiology section from three to nearly a dozen members, Wippold recruited individuals he was confident could take the department to the next level.
“I am so proud of the people who came in on my watch,” he says. “They are not just smart and talented, but they are thoughtful, caring, wonderful people. They are my best legacy of the neuroradiology section.”
Above: Franz J. “Jay” Wippold II, MD, after receiving his medal as one of six inaugural Evens Society Honorees at the MIR alumni gala in 2018.
Above: Wippold with fellow Distinguished Teachers at MIR’s 2014 End of the Year Dinner.
Above: Wippold Alongside R. Gilbert Jost, MD (left), and Benjamin Lee, MD (center), to celebrate Lee’s retirement.