UF surgeon receives award from the American College of Surgeons

One of UF Health’s longest-serving trauma surgeons received the Raymond H. Alexander Award from the Florida chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

Lawrence Lottenberg, M.D., an associate professor of surgery and anesthesiology, was the founding trauma surgeon at UF Health Shands Hospital’s Level 1 trauma center in December 2003 and served as president of the Florida chapter of the American College of Surgeons for two years. During this time, he led a major leadership transition within the chapter, guided the chapter through tough legislative challenges and was instrumental in establishing the Florida Surgical Care Initiative, a quality improvement program for the practice of surgery statewide.

He was also chair of the Florida Committee on Trauma for six years and still serves as a senior advisory member of the committee’s leadership team. Before coming to UF, Lottenberg was a leader in trauma surgery at Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Fla., for 26 years.

In the late 1990s, Lottenberg also developed a trauma-specific program for handheld computers that facilitated patient billing and allowed providers to make notes. The technology, which is no longer available, was called PocketChart Trauma.

The Florida chapter of the American College of Surgeons gives the Raymond H. Alexander Award annually in honor of the late UF surgeon who served at UF Health’s Gainesville and Jacksonville sites. Alexander founded the trauma care program at UF Health Jacksonville, the state’s first Level 1 trauma center, in the 1980s. According to the organization, the purpose of the award is to “recognize outstanding dedication and service to the medical profession in the field of surgery as exemplified by the devoted and unselfish life of Dr. Ray Alexander.” The chapter gave two Raymond H. Alexander Awards this year, for the first time since the award’s inception. John Armstrong, M.D., Florida’s current surgeon general and secretary of the Florida Department of Health, was the other recipient.

Lottenberg was an early adopter of health information technology and was a leader in convincing other surgeons that it was the wave of the future when, at the time, it was still in its infancy, said John Rioux, M.D., secretary-treasurer with the Florida chapter of the American College of Surgeons.

“Early in his career, he became a leader in Florida’s trauma system and after his recruitment to the University of Florida in Gainesville, the voids in our state’s trauma coverage quickly closed due in large part to his efforts,” Rioux said.

Lottenberg said that the award makes him think about those who contributed in shaping his career.

“All of the mentors that I’ve had in my career deserve the award as well, going way, way back to when I was a medical student and a surgery resident in the ’70s,” Lottenberg said. “Here at UF Health, Dr. Copeland has done a lot of mentoring for me, and I also feel truly indebted to Dr. Behrns for his support of me and the trauma center over the years.”

Edward M. Copeland, M.D., a distinguished professor of surgery at UF, was once chair of the department of surgery. Kevin E. Behrns, M.D., is the current chair and the Edward R. Woodward professor of surgery.

“To be honored in the memory of Ray Alexander is probably, for me, the highest academic award that I’ve ever had and probably will ever have in my career,” Lottenberg said.