Chester Woodburn, MD


What is your hometown?

Des Moines, IA

What is your official title?

Plastic and facial reconstructive surgeon

How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

I did my undergraduate at Iowa State – my grandfather was doctor in Boone and my other grandfather was a Ph.D. in Biology in Washington, DC and a biologist for the U.S. government. He discovered a hybrid blueberry, was on the Death Valley expedition and also went with Admiral Perry on an expedition to Alaska. His grandmother was the first woman to graduate from the College of Architecture at Cornell University. His father was an architect in Des Moines.I was in ROTC during the war when I was accepted to Medicine. I received draft notice and got excused because of my MD acceptance. My Internship was at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Charleston, SC. I came back and went to Cleveland Clinic for residency (Iowa was full) for two years, then found vacancy at Iowa and came immediately back to Iowa.

Dr. Robert Updegraff's (40BA, 43MD, 52R-Otolaryngology) parents lived across the street from my grandparents in Boone, Iowa and they were in the same department. Then I did a six week training in plastic surgery at Manhattan Hospital in New York – performed the first stapetectomy.

What interested you to pursue a career in medicine and medical education?

I loved helping people and I loved being surrounded by people that have done procedures. Please highlight your major career achievements, awards, discoveries, etc. One part of my practice (1952 and 1953) was during the Polio epidemic where I worked closely with patients in Des Moines that were in Iron Lungs suffering from bronchial paralysis. I did tracheotomies and was very hands-on; I always wondered how I escaped contracting the disease.

In 1961 I went to the 7th Congress of Otolaryngology Conference in France and was a guest speaker, and then again in Japan to present a paper.

Is there a teacher, mentor or UI Carver College of Medicine faculty member who has helped shape your education?

We all respected Dean "Lyerly" who ran the department and was very well respected.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa for your education and medical training?

I was born and raised in Iowa, my parents lived here, this was just home.

What are some of your outside interests?

I have 4 children who graduated from The University of Iowa, 2 grandchildren who are medicine alumni and one of them is doing a fellowship in Nephrology.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's medical students?

They have great access to all the fields, but need to do what appeals to them, go into that specialty.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017