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Surgical Pioneer Dr. Ira Kodner Honored with Achievement Award, New Ethics Education Fund

Surgical Pioneer Dr. Ira Kodner Honored with Achievement Award, New Ethics Education Fund

Ira J. Kodner, MD, a pioneer in colon and rectal surgery and prominent medical ethicist, is the recipient of the 2018 President’s Achievement Award given by The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.  In addition, an endowed fund has been established at the Foundation to honor Dr. Kodner and support education, research and advocacy in the field of surgical ethics.

The award and the fund were announced Dec. 12 at the Foundation’s annual event to honor clinical and faculty partners.

“Recipients of the President’s Achievement Award are among the finest, most accomplished physicians in the world. They advance medical knowledge and continuously improve our practices, while delivering care in a compassionate, respectful, and responsive way,” said Bob Cannon, president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and group president of BJC HealthCare.  “Dr. Ira J. Kodner epitomizes all of this award’s criteria, and then some.”

Dr. Kodner is an emeritus professor of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine and the founder and first chief of the section of colon and rectal surgery at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He held the Solon and Bettie Gershman Endowed Chair in Colon and Rectal Surgery for 28 years until retiring in 2013. Funding from the chair allowed Dr. Kodner to launch and carry out a number of innovative programs over the years.

Among them was the creation of a unique ethics education program within the Washington University Department of Surgery—a program that gave the school a national leadership position in the field. In order to accomplish this, Dr. Kodner commuted to the University of Chicago for a year to obtain credentials in clinical medical ethics. He then started the Washington University program in 2002.

To honor Dr. Kodner and his wife, and ensure the growth of ethics education and research, a group of donors worked with the Foundation to recently establish the Barbara and Ira J. Kodner MD Endowed Fund for Surgical Ethics.

“It’s always been my joy to do things that no one was else was doing,” Dr. Kodner said. “I am so touched by the award and the creation of the endowed fund. My work in ethics has been one of the glorious, productive parts of my career, and Barbara and I are honored that ethics education and research will continue in our names.”

Dr. Kodner has also held numerous leadership positions in national and community organizations and currently serves on the board of The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Gifts to the Foundation support Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, Siteman Cancer Center, Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College, BJC Home Care and Hospice, Evelyn’s House, and Washington University School of Medicine. To learn more or make a gift, visit


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